LAST night, I watched at Netflix the movie “THE TWO POPES” featuring how Pope Benedict XVI renounced the papacy in the Vatican in Rome to POPE FRANCIS. No wonder when I fell asleep last night, I had a dream that a Jesuit Cardinal from Argentina named JORGE BERGOGLIO was president of the Philippines. Here’s that dream.
FEDERALISM — The Philippines has turned federal and is one of the federated states of the Vatican. And its regions have also gone federal — where the concentration of powers and resources are equitably dispersed and fairly allocated to the local government units. The name of the Philippine President in my dream is Jorge Bergoglio.
HONORABLES — He has cleaned up the bureaucracy from corruption. No allies cling nor hide behind his priestly garb. No one is spared, not even his own KKKs ( kaSeminaryo, kaPari, at KaJesuita). Tinges of irregularity, whether small or significant, real or contrived, are not swept away under the rug or peremptorily waved off. His officials take their name and honor seriously. Some take the honorable route of voluntarily dismounting to protect the presidency, ready to take the bullet. His officials are so well loved and held in high esteem that when they figure in some close call accidents, like plane mishaps, everyone thanks the Lord for their safety and not say: “sayang bakit yan lang sinapit”.
LOCALS GOVERN — Being federal, the regions govern their own areas with the least intervention from the national capital. The locals determine and chart their own future and destiny. Taxes are not all sent up to the national treasury and the concentration of power through patronage and “dog lapping” is gone.
IN PERIPHERIES —President Bergoglio spends time not so much in Malacanang nor in “imperial” Manila but in the“peripheries” like the calamity stricken areas, in the far-flung barangays. He attends to the long-suffering and abandoned victims of conflicts, the poor, the sick, the forgotten. Whenever he wishes to meet with his constituents, millions voluntarily attend, braving the elements. And there is no “hakot”.
BLAMING NO ONE — His words are compassionate and soothing, not carping or uncouth. He speaks from the heart and asks everyone to put Jesus in the center of everything. He assuages the sufferers by referring to Christ’s own Calvary and crucifixion. He does not look back looking for some fall guy. He blames no one. He reaches out to all — Muslims, Lumads and those of other faiths — for peace and unity.
NOT “GOD’s GIFT”— He sneaks out at night, not to cavort or “vroom” the streets but to visit and give solace to the street children, the orphans, the needy and the abandoned. He does not project himself as if he is “God’s gift to mankind” to do reforms. He exudes humility and godly grace. He protects the family and even the unborn. He does not conjure ways to undermine the sanctity of life.
SO HUMAN –He is so human just like you and me. His humanity shows he has a good sense of humor and breaks into some laughter – or even sheds tears — with his people. His inimitable smile brings cheers and solace even to those who went through some tragedy, like floods, storms, earthquakes, pandemics and other scourges of Mother Earth. He is always on the move despite his age and not prone to ensconce himself “moonying” in solitude. No he is not bratty. Nor does he carp or engage in dry humor about his hair when his bull cap is blown away or his priestly cape perturbed by the wind.
NIGHTMARE! —But ooooops. Suddenly I woke up to the real world and I lost that dream. I woke up from a good dream to a real nightmare today with people dying and suffering due to Covid19, the storms and the ensuing floods, the earthquakes. Mother Nature and the Heavens must be whacking all of humanity for all the transgressions man commits . I truly wish to continue dreaming some more about Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now called HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS.
“BACCAMANO” — In 2016 during the early start of the presidency of President Rody Duterte we went to Rome, Italy to re-start the stalled peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF. I was with the late Secretary Perfecto “Jun” Yasay, Jr. of the Department of Foreign Affairs and some of my OPAPP officials. While in Rome, a “baccamano” (Italian for “kissing of the hand” of the Pope) was arranged to deliver a personal letter of President Duterte addressed to POPE FRANCIS extending his warm greetings to His Holiness.
I’m sure many of you still remember that time when during the 2016 presidential elections when Pope Francis made that historic visit in Manila. Caught in bad traffic due to the Pope’s arrival, candidate Duterte uttered some words that became viral! No, that personal letter of President Duterte was not “in atonement” for that incident. It was just a warm greetings from a sitting Philippine president.)
That “baccamano” was one of my unforgettable moments. Let me recall. Together with my OPAPP officials was my daughter Jeliza Farrah ( “Ning” to friends) who was my executive assistant. The Philippine diplomatic mission in Rome was able to arrange that our group would be at the first row so only us would be able to kiss Pope Francis’ hand. After Secretary Yasay handed the president’s letter, I was the first one to do the traditional “baccamano”. Next to me was my daughter Ning who also kissed His Holiness hand. Suddenly, I heard her say, “so sorry, so sorry”. I opened my eyes and I saw her vigorously wiping the hand of the Pope. She had red lipstick so she smeared her lipstick and left telltale marks of her lips when she kissed the Pope’s hand. The Pope was smiling. But she looked so nervous and scared . I told her later: “Next time you kiss someone, don’t wear lipstick, okay?” Lol!
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