Postwords and postscripts abound in the broadcast and print media to recapture the surface and symbolic significances of His Holiness Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines. Like what one experiences after having drunk a fairly large amount of liquid spirits in a barrio fiesta celebration, the Filipino nation still goes through a kind of “spiritual hang-over” from the rare impact brought about by the encounter with the endeared Pontiff. But of course the impact is one of a kind. It seeps into one’s interiority quite profoundly one can only manifest it in a hard-to-describe kind of joy that chokes one’s throat or reddens the eyes of one who succeeds in holding back his tears.​

The tears shed by the millions who joined the day-today events during those five “wow” days, if collected and consolidated, could have flooded Malacanang grounds, its residents evacuated quickly in emergency disaster rescue operation. But in spite of everything that the masses have hitherto undergone under the incumbent government, they couldn’t have wished or wanted it that way. Their consolidated tears of joy and consolation had better be highlighted as an expression of “poetic justice” or “poetic indignation”, or whatever it may be fittingly called, against a political leadership that has miserably failed them—failed them to the infinite depths of their righteous expectation. ​

Yes, and the good Pope Francis would synthesize it with ”You should learn how to cry”. In a very far away past and for a very different reason and situation, a Shakespearean character would enunciate it in an oratorically dramatic fashion—“If you have tears, prefer to shed them now!”

​And not quite remotely, in early 1970, political activists in Cebu City would do their own battles for societal reforms under the folds of a radical youth organization called CRY (Consolidation for Reforms for the Youth), with reference and reverence to the Cry of Pugadlawin by the Katipuneros led by Gat Andres Bonifacio. These youths along with their counterparts in other parts of the country have long ago—long before the Martial law era of Marcos—learned to cry, albeit not always with tears. Often with slogans jelled into the quintessential “Serve the People” and “Commune with the Masses”. And truly and sincerely they did. And they have since earned the label “communists”. ​

Pope Francis’ battlecry in this his historic visit to the Philippines “Mercy and Compassion” has been elucidated by a Jesuit priest as a ministry to deliver hope and consolation to the poor — “the poor”— the poor seems to be the main beneficiary of the Pope’s apostolic mission the whole wide world. And when asked what the word “compassion” signifies, the good Jesuit priest replied: “compassion” is the essential significance of what the Pope referred to as the 3 languages of mind, heart and hands working in harmony. Compassion, therefore, entails the act of sharing with the poor people’s woes. . .their miserable plight . . . their suffering. . .their hopes. . .their dreams. It entails the need to be one with them — “to commune” with the people, chiefly the poor.

​Well, this captures one’s interest. This is infinitely interesting! The political activists who came to being and proliferated in the 1960s towards the 1970s because of the social injustice and other iniquities that had rooted in the prevailing realities in society have since put to practice this injunction of the Pope. Out of mercy and compassion, they went to the masses of the people, and communed with them sincerely—selflessly adopting a life of being one with the poor masses of the people. Dropping out from their studies, they shunned the comforts of student city life and stripped themselves of whatever luxurious lifestyle some of them could afford and went incognito to the countryside to wage revolutionary struggle against the oppressive Status Quo. They have hitherto ministered to the concrete and actual needs of the masses out of what their minds, hearts and hands are capable of providing. Verily, they have since bloomed wherever they happened to be planted.​

What Pope Francis manifested in his memorable visit in the country was a concrete and sincere gesture of communing with the poor masses of the people. His words and acts overflowed with a sincere desire to share with their sufferings and sentiments—their dream of relief from misery and impoverishment, their hunger and thirst for social justice, their feeling of neglect and deep deep longing for better conditions of existence. They felt this sincere concern and solicitude on the part of the Holy Pontiff in the very short time of their encounter with him. His act of sharing and communing with the people came like ripples of indescribable heartbeats in his smile, in his words and in his little gestures and actions. Over-all his whole charisma overflows with love and generosity that just overwhelms everyone.​

The Filipino people has reciprocally responded to the way the holy Pontiff touched their hearts in such spontaneous extraordinary outpouring of love and adoration and jubilant generosity ever accorded to a visiting dignitary. The cheers came from crowds of millions— not hundreds of thousands, but millions! One cannot characterize his surprise acts of spontaneously extending his hands to the children in the streets as a mere affective style of a leader or a person of his stature wanting to capture admiration or limelight. It is certainly not a politician’s act! ​

And this brings us to a need for a word of caution to the public, lest the politicians who have been similarly generous with their presences in the events would copy the Pope’s acts during their campaign sorties come election time next year. 2016 is election year and we know what these present-day secular Pharisees are capable of doing just to generate votes using all sorts of trickery and foolery—their stock of weaponry for perpetuating themselves in power.

For extended days Pope Francis will be an important conversation piece in every household. For a little while anecdotes and little stories will continue to be heard within the shacks and cottages of the poor in the slums, and even among the not-so-poor in subdivisions of the middle classes. And perhaps also in the mansions of the rich and very rich. But those who have been lucky to have a close face-to-face encounter with him, like the children and the youth with whom he loved to be with, especially those very fortunate ones who have felt his hugs or warm kiss on their foreheads—they will cherish those very brief moments which will long abide with them in all the days of their lives.​

But if there was one significant thing he missed in his journey, it was a much awaited and desired encounter with the Lumad (indigenous peoples) who went to Tacloban all the way from the hinterlands of Mindanao in order to intimate to the holy Pontiff their serious concern and grave problem. They have been long-time victims of discrimination and social injustice. They have been displaced from their ancestral lands which have been granted by the government to foreign corporations as mining and logging concessions At the same time, their areas are heavily militarized, and the soldiers serve as security forces of these foreign corporations operating in their lands.

The harsh realities of militarization have caused all forms of human rights violations by the soldiers. Many have been killed, kidnapped and tortured among the tribespeople. Their most fervent desire and prayer was to seek the Pope’s intercession and to express their solidarity with him as the supreme leader of the Catholic Church.​

For a little while, the celebrants of the ningas cogon ritual among the Filipinos will hopefully be suspended in favor of the wish that the Pontiff’s evangelizing words will translate into meaningful reforms among the leaders of the local clergy. It is of course too much to expect the Church to take the lead for radical social change, as much as it is a futile wish for an eventuality of conversion to happen among the State leadership such that a politics of genuine social transformation may be adopted. ​

Revolutionary political activism in spite of the Church leadership is still a very relevant phenomenon for the liberation of the country from poverty and underdevelopment.

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