“Our young Filipino artists want to welcome the Pope with an image that doesn’t gloss over the hardships and the plight of the Filipino people.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A 30-foot tapestry-painting depicting Pope Francis in solidarity with the marginalized sectors of society was unveiled by young artists on Thursday, Jan. 15 hours before he arrived.
“Our young Filipino artists want to welcome the Pope with an image that doesn’t gloss over the hardships and the plight of the Filipino people,” said Einstein Recedes, spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP).
Artists from youth groups Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA), UgatLahi Artist Collective, Kamanyang, and Alay Sining “spent a week of nonstop painting to finish the artwork.”
The tapestry-painting is one of the highlights of the week-long “Youth Camp for Pope Francis.” It was unveiled after an ecumenical service at the Liwasang Bonifacio dubbed as “Pagsambang Bayan ng Maralita” also on Thursday.
In the painting, Pope Francis is flanked by a farm laborer and a contractual worker on the left, and on the right, a young woman, and a member of the indigenous group. The young woman’s image was based on Lorena Barros, student leader and founder of the women’s group Makibaka, who was killed during the Martial Law era.
Recedes said the painting sends the message that the Pontiff and the Catholic Church “is one with the people.”
“This is exactly what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel – that God is living with and through the people,” he added.
On Wednesday, Jan. 14, different youth and students group splashed white, yellow, red and blue colored powder along España Boulevard as opening salvo of the week-long Youth Camp.
“The Filipino youth would like to welcome Pope Francis with warmest regards. He is truly an inspiration, especially for youth groups that advocate social change,” Recedes said.
The Christian youth leader said they opted to use colored throwing powder to highlight the festive nature of the Pope’s apostolic visit. “We are literally throwing our hands in the air as the hour of the Pope’s arrival draws near. The nation must indeed celebrate, for here is a Pope who champions the poor. Here is a leader that recognizes the roots of inequality. Here is a Pope who is truly an ally of the marginalized and the oppressed,” Recedes added.
Meanwhile, progressive youth group Anakbayan offered an “alternative itinerary” or a list of things Pope Francis can do to “totally rock his visit in the Philippines:”
1) Put to shame the corrupt, pro-pork government. “We’d tell him to ditch the Malacanang visit but since it’s a state visit and he’s obliged to do so, he can ‘make the most out of it’ and deliver a scathing speech against corruption and pork barrel.”
2) Walk with the poor in Payatas. “Urban poor groups are preparing a ‘pagpag’ feast. Pagpag is food picked from restaurant leftovers— the Manila poor’s typical daily meal.”
3) Go to Hacienda Luisita. “A visit to the President’s Hacienda to meet farmworkers will surely send a strong message for land reform and social justice.”
4) Ride the MRT. “Pope Francis, son of a railway employee, a commuter who took the train and the bus when he was a bishop, and a critic of capitalism would surely stand against the recent MRT / LRT fare hikes.”
5) Go to a mall to meet the contractual workers. “Pope Francis also called for ‘just wage.’ He would surely be indignant of the state of contractual workers and workers in general in the country.”
6) Call to stop tuition hikes in UST. “Catholic schools are among the biggest private schools in the country, and also among those with high tuition rates and campus fees. It would be a good idea for them to lead in scrapping school fees and tuition rates.”
7) Bless the sick in Fabella and other public hospitals. “With the sorry state of the nation’s public hospitals, and the push to privatize health service under Aquino, the sick would need someone to speak up for a pro-people health system.”
8) Meet with People Surge. “For sure, the Aquino government has made arrangements to cover-up the real situation of the victims along with its criminal accountability in the disaster response epic fail. The Pope can meet directly with families of the victims and know firsthand their real situation. People Surge is the alliance of victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “
9) Take a selfie with political detainees and call for their release. “Political detainees have also been fasting to send their message to the Pope.”
10) Broker the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “The NDFP has welcomed the Pope and has recently sent positive messages regarding the resumption of peace talks.”
“Whether he does these or not, for sure, the Pope will surprise us with his message of hope, solidarity and struggle for change. His visit should be a call to Catholics and all Filipinos to be more active in the fight for meaningful social change in the Philippine,” the group said in a statement.