Archive for January, 2015

Pardon me if I tried hard to make the title sound as politically correct as possible. Hurting religious feelings in my country might have me end up in jail, you know. This entry by the way, to explain the redundancy, is all about my online posts about Pope Francis and his visit in the Philippines. I collated all of them and put it here.

I must say, I am blessed for having part of the two of the biggest events for the Catholic Church in a span of two weeks. A week before the Pope’s visit, I was lucky to witness the Translacion De Nazareno. I thought of putting balance to my ideas about the Creator, that I decided to watch the movie The Theory of Everything, in the hopes of having Stephen Hawking and his theories bring me back into my agnostic and pragmatic self.

And knowing who I am based on my previous posts (kindly refer to the articles: Atheism According to Red Tani : a Blunder of Biblical Proportions, and My Lenten Reflection , I couldn’t still fathom how The Pontiff made me do all these.

The failed trip to his mass at the Manila Cathedral forced me to just wait at the corner of Roxas Blvd. and Quirino Ave. for his motorcade; but I still failed to have a glimpse of him because he was on-board the enclosed van and not on the Pope Mobile due to the rain.

I waited there for more than an hour and I had an idea of how it feels to be in there, along with the crowd, media personnel and other photographers who are all excited to see just even his face for a brief moment as his motorcade passed by. It was thrilling, and fascinating at the same time.

A couple of days after, me and other volunteers got a special access to be as near as we can get for his concluding mass at the Quirino Grandstand. The experience is really different when you’re in there, versus the feeling that you have when you watch the Papal activities on TV. Both of which are solemn and holy, of course. To see Pope Francis that close is definitely priceless.

It is an awesome experience overall. This is one of the most memorable events in my life, a bucket list worthy of an event.

As Morgan Freeman said in the the movie Bruce Almighty “If you want to see a miracle, be the miracle.” Well, guys, Pope Francis has done it during his visit. I am really thankful to have been a part of this momentous event.

My Facebook Status: January 19  –  

“We Survived 15+ hours while at the concluding mass of ‪#‎PopeFrancisPH‬ at the Quirino Grandstand, I only had one single pack of Graham crackers and small shots of water to drink for my fuel – while having the most difficult time in my volunteering experience in finding the way around the Rizal Park to get in with the call time as early 3AM and having entered the are only at 630AM (and yeah, the mass started at around 3PM; and ushering thousands of overly eager pilgrims and guarding the Blessed Sacrament; and standing under the monsoon rains for more than 7 hours while at it. But if you ask me if it was all worth it? I’d answer YES in a heartbeat.”

And as I was reposting a GMA Network Online article, I added:

“I really have to give it to this guy. I only saw snippets of his homily in Tacloban. And then a few clips showing how the Taclobanons prepared for him. That is one big display of resilience and faith. Amidst the threatening strong winds and rains by Typhoon ‪#‎Amang‬, The Pope did not fail to give the Yolanda Survivors HOPE.

I hope he lands back safe to Manila.

And then some ninja sliced some onions nearby. ‪#‎PopeFrancisPH.”

And this, for a Manila Bulletin article online by Reina Reyes :

May he be the catalyst for our social healing. I hope my fellow Filipinos use this momentum to change how we behave as a nation. From the way that the Filipinos showed their discipline (as it appears on all news cameras, but being with them in the grandstand is entirely another story), to how both believers and non-believers of the Catholic Church showed respect, admiration, and fascination to The Pope. This religious euphoria may stay with us and leave once The Pope goes back to Vatican, but let’s not end it there.”

“I don’t believe in God, but I want to believe in Pope Francis. I want to believe that he is sincere and genuinely open to dialogue, reform, and accountability. I want to believe that he has the necessary political astuteness and goodwill to usher in structural and spiritual reform in the Curia, if not throughout the Church. I want to believe that it is possible to change a fossilized dysfunctional organizational culture in the course of a lifetime. Because then, maybe-just maybe-it can be done here, too.” – Reina Reyes, The Francis effect : An atheist takes a no-biased, non-deified look at the rockstar pontiff the Catholic Church is in love with.

Go check the videos and read the one I did below this first one:

#PapalVisit2015
#PopeFrancisPH

Visit more photos here at :

The Papal Visit 2015 Experience

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More pictures here: Traslacion De Nazareno 2015

 

I also want to share to you these amazing works by none other than Mr. Fung Yu:

http://www.360journals.com/360/Nazarene/2015/nazarene2015.html

And a commentary about Traslacion by Sir. Xiao Chua:

A lot of things may be said about this festival. Most of them I do not want to touch and discuss anymore.

One thing is for sure for me. The devotees of the Black Nazarene showed their force of faith. A combination of beauty in chaos, solemnity, resilience, that have spanned decades in practice.

What it did for me? It satisfied my curiosity. I went there not as a devout Catholic (for I am not a devout Catholic). I came there as an observer, and a fascinated one I was.

As much as I would want to give an explanation and my comment as to how this undoubtedly unique Filipino festival is being held, I can only give you pictures and let them answer your questions for me.

As what my colleague Berniemack Arellano, the man behind Habagat Central had put it, it had a “Gradual increase, a bursting climax at the Poon Nazareno, and then a sudden drop of energy towards solemnity, then cleaning up the mess. It is an interesting anthropological study to look at on the procession’s nature opposing that of Cebu’s solemn and lengthy foot and fluvial procession.”

It was surreal. We waited from 8am at the balcony of the National Museum, and people were already walking to and fro the Andas, incessantly. We were lucky enough to be allowed to have our station there as it offered the best vantage point that day. The Padre Burgos Street was so full of human activities. We had at least a couple of short snacks, one full lunch, and a few combined bottles and glasses of energy drink, coffee, water and soda before we saw the head of the Andas at around 1pm.

And then that beautiful chaotic moment came. You can’t help but have goosebumps, as people wave their white towels, clap their hands, shout their faith. Some devotees are climbing up the Andas with full fervor and determination to at least touch a part of the image, but some were even luckier to kiss the cross, or touch the face of the Jesus Nazareno.

When the Andas reached the part of the street where I was directly standing at, time seemed to have stopped. I was staring at the Andas, and it captivated me for an ample number of seconds before I realized that I am holding my camera and had to shoot photos.

True enough, as what the broadcasts have mentioned in the previous years, I saw how solemn the rear part of the Traslacion is compared to the very chaotic scene at the front where the rope pulling the Andas is being held by the devotees. For almost an hour, you will see what seems to be a complete disorder and confusion. Ocassionally you could hear the devotees shouting “Viva! Viva!” as if doing a warcry to rally their spirits whenever they get tired. And everytime the Hijos atop the Andas blow their whistle three times as their signal, a wave of devotees from the back run straight toward the Andas like a mini stampede to push it forward.

And then right after, when the Andas has already moved forth, you’ll see a few meters back from the Andas, the females, young and old, together with some elder males, and children who could not be in front due to their frail physical conditions, are praying together. And it was magical. The Andas will bring your adrenaline out, and then leave you there just like that and will make you wonder just how on earth did that kind of silence follow the rowdy crowd in front? Imagine watching a firework display that just goes out just when you are about hyped up and ready for the finale – but in a good, solemn way.

The entire Traslacion covered the streets from the Finance Rd, going straight to Padre Burgos, and it took almost two long hours before it reached the part of the City Hall. Kudos to the MMDA street sweepers for their good job of making sure that the streets where the Traslacion is passing through are kept clean after.

I always tell myself that I am an agnostic. Probably because that is what is convenient for me. But at that moment, when I was witnessing with my very own eyes the devotion of my fellow Filipinos, I told myself that this is the best time to go out of my comfort zone, feel the vibe and savor the moment where one’s strongest faith is displayed. A spiritual pat on the back, if you may.

Call it what you want. A miracle. Fanaticism. Display of faith. Craziness. For me, it was just surreal. I cannot judge the people who do the “Panata sa Nazareno”. Neither can I say that being in there made me a little bit more holy. But I have satiated my curiosity. And I think I’m good with that.

Some even say the event itself is over-hyped by the media? Now, that’s another story. You’ve got to experience it for yourself. 🙂

#Traslacion
#Nazareno2015
#HeritagePH