Seeing “LOLO KIKO”
Six million wet, cold and freezing people waited as the rains poured down to catch a glimpse their favorite Pope, “The People’s Pope,” Papa Francisco.
I was there feeling proud to be a journalist covering the event, with the great fortune of standing in front of the six million people and most of all to be closer to the Quirino Grandstand to witness the Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis and possibly get a chance to see the pope pass by right before my eyes. And I DID!!!
Hardly catching enough sleep, my team left from our place of stay at 3 AM so we could be as close as possible to the Pope. Rumor had it that people began to queue up the previous day at around 7 PM.
I began to contemplate the whole religious event with the stories from the Bible in the New Testament.
When we arrived at the park at 4 AM in the morning, I remember our director Fr Joey saying “you rarely see Filipinos rush and walk at this speed.” What a joy it must have been for every Filipino to get a glimpse of the Pope and to receive his blessings, the successor of Peter appointed by Jesus – just as the crowds in Jerusalem would gather, just to get a glimpse of Jesus, just to touch his cloak, to hear a few words. Jesus was always filled with ‘Mercy and Compassion’ when he saw people coming to him. And this was the theme of Pope Francis’ visit. The Pope was moved and touched by the Filipino people. Although, towards the end of the event he looked pretty much tired and drained out, he would still get excited and would put that huge smile on his face to greet the people and give them his blessings.
As I stood in front of the six million people, I began to think, “Look at us!! It’s been raining the whole day. And the young and the old, the sick and the lame are patiently waiting to see their Pope.” It reminded me of the passage in the Bible where Jesus was moved with pity when he saw the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. The Pope is our shepherd today. He was greatly affected by the disasters that had taken place in the Philippines. Hence, he decided to physically be among the people, to console them, to give them hope and courage and to let them know that Jesus suffered along with them. Seeing Jesus on the cross assures us that we are not alone no matter what happens. All we need to do is to put our trust in him and to let him know of our sufferings. Pope Francis could have easily said all this from Rome. But NO! This gesture tells us how closely he follows Christ and his ways.
Not always in their lifetime do people get a chance to take part in the Eucharist celebrated by the Pope, receive his blessings and get a chance to see him up close. For me personally it was as good as seeing Jesus, as Pope Francis represents Christ. It’s a feeling that cannot be expressed in words. “Lolo Kiko” (as he is lovingly called in the Philippines – ‘Grandfather Francisco’)! This day will always be treasured in my heart. I feel blessed and overwhelmed to get this opportunity to be in the Philippines for the Pope’s visit.