[This post marks the first of two-part special on the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines beginning next Thursday.]
THE APOSTOLIC VISIT of the His Holiness, Pope Francis in the Philippines is an exciting and honorable snippet of the nation’s history. This is the first pastoral journey to be recorded in the 21st century. For these five days, we could expect 5 million or more faithful to flock in Manila to see him in person, breaking our own record two decades ago.
How this announcement came to be? How did the development of the past visits come so far? How would the media prepare and respond to these five days? What parts of his trip will we able to be televised?
The announcement of the papal visit was made last July 7, 2014 through a letter from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). During that time, the theme song, We are All God’s Children, was already released, performed by Jamie Rivera with its corresponding action by the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community Youth. Three weeks later, the date of his visit was approved: from 15th to the 19th with one day (17th) reserved for the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda in Leyte, as the Holy Father intends to visit. The theme of his visit is “Mercy and Compassion,” based on the motto of his papacy and his astonishing acts of consciousness of the poor and the weak.
The past pastoral visits
On November 27-29, 1970, Pope Paul VI (beatified last October 19) was the first pontiff to set foot to the Philippines. He was able to survive an assassination attempt. During this stay, he inaugurated Radio Veritas (presently at 846 kHz). Sadly, only pictures were the evidence as TV camera films of that time were raided and charred by the military due to martial law two years after.
On February 17-22, 1981, exactly a month after the lifting of the 9-year martial law by former President Ferdinand Marcos, Pope Saint John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years, stepped on the nation’s soil. On his first visit, he beatified Lorenzo Ruiz (canonized six years later). He visited all the three island groups. Despite of the lift, the media outlets remain restricted while few rolls of film on the visit were survived. For now, researchers remain confounded if there are any official broadcasters.
Did you know that Pope St. John Paul II refused to stay in the Coconut Palace? He knew about the lavishness of the conjugal dictatorship and indebtedness of the nation.
On January 1995, as part of the 10th World Youth Day celebration, the Holy Father returned for the six-day international youth event in Manila. Before his pastoral return, the first phase of the Bojinka plot was foiled under the hands of Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Despite of the terrorist plot, the closing Mass was able to gather five million faithful, making it in the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering in Catholic history. GMA, despite of the Protestant ownership, was the official TV network and “Tell the World of His Love” was the recognizable tune; ABS-CBN only covered his arrival.
In summary, three visits are officially counted as official apostolic visits. However, there was a fourth attempt for the papal visit — in 2003, to be exact.
The supposed fourth papal visit
St. John Paul II truly loved the Philippines and wanted to go back for the Fourth World Meeting of Families. However, Parkinson’s disease hindered him to travel. On January 22-26, 2003, he delegated Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the then President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as the Papal legate. On that Sunday, January 26, the Holy Father was able to communicate through video conference at Quirino Grandstand from St. Peter’s Basilica. Again, only GMA was able to carry the broadcast rights to the said Meeting of the Families and the theme song, “Only Selfless Love,” was well associated. Two years later, JPII succumbed at the Papal Apartment, ending 26 years of his pontificate with billions witness on the mourning.
Now that we answered the first two questions, the other two remains. What preparations were taken of the six VHF TV networks and what slice of the itinerary will they take?
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata…
[Photos courtesy of: Esquire, CBCP, Alex Y. Vergara, Giansanti Giannin/Corbis Sygma]