A lot of people are so pessimistic about the Papal visit. Honestly, I still think it’s a little bit overrated. However, I realized that I must not forget that what it might be to me is not what it means to the other Filipinos who feel blessed by just knowing he is coming to visit our country.
I’ve attended Sunday masses lately and I noticed that by the end of each mass, there’s a special prayer intended to pray for peace and protection during the Papal visit. I noticed that people actually recite it with gusto and their faces even looked hopeful. Sometimes I even feel guilty because I really just regard it as a regular weekend, another day to catch up on laundry and writing.
As the days of the visit draw near, there’s also a lot of backlash about the visit…and its auxiliaries. I’m pretty sure any avid Facebook user has seen that painting depicting top Filipino celebrities in a “farm” with the Pope. I’ve also seen “greetings” by aspiring politicians who strategically place their names and faces in tarpaulins that “pray” to “bless” our country during the time of the visit. Then there are Pope Benedict XVI merchandise, special hotel and transport promos, and a lot of Pope trivia, among others.
What struck me most was that I came across a thread on Facebook where someone asked the members to list down the tangible and measurable benefits of the Papal visit. Surprisingly, a lot of members raised very good points. That thread actually caused me to look at the event with fresh eyes, and that’s how I appreciated some of its parts, and as usual, feel disgusted by some. Very good points for “benefits” were more income for the tourism industry, people catching up on their backlogs, and lesser crimes. I even joked that the vacations booked on this long weekend might rekindle dying romances. Of course, there were negative inputs as well. Several people said that this event will leave a lot of garbage, cause our politicians to capitalize on it and put on a show, and most of all, at the end of the day, our country will still face the same problems.
I agree, the Papal visit will not eradicate poverty, solve the loopholes in our educational system or magically increase our political maturity. However, none of these problems will also be solved by visits of international pop stars, computer games, mall-wide sales or whining. What can help, though, is a more discriminatory approach on which side to take once something gets sensationalized. Look at the Marian-Dingdong Wedding, the feast of the Nazarene and even your nightly teleseryes can be mentally obstructive once you let it get to you.
So here goes: if you don’t like the Papal Visit, turn off your TV, lay off the nega vibes and get back to your laundry pile.