eastwind journals 88 – A 3,000-KM TREK TO SEE THE POPE

eastwind journals 88
A 3,000-km Trek to See the Pope
By Bernie Lopez


This anecdote is dedicated to Pope Francis, who issued a call for the global elite to share with the poor. He dispatched the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the Philippines after the Bohol-Cebu earthquake, and has expressed interest to visit typhoon-ravaged Leyte. The statue, which holds in its crown the bullet that almost killed Pope John Paul II, was stranded during the earthquake in a small village. It’s current location is not known.


Pedro, 75, uses a bolo to break open his 30-year-old 50-kilo six-foot bamboo piggy bank. Like a Las Vegas one-arm-bandit that disgorges a $25,000 jackpot, the contents fall to the floor with a resounding crash, forming a small hill of glistening coins. He kneels on the floor and whispers, “Dear Lord, this is my day. Bless me.”




It takes him an hour and twelve trips to move the pile into a wheelbarrow using a spade, then wheels it outside into a wooden box on a carabao-driven sled. He is going to town to have it changed into paper money. He screams at the carabao at the top of his voice, “After 30 years, my day has come, Michelangelo. Move it.” Jolted, Michelangelo lunges forward.


After a 3,000 kilometer trek, Pedro is at the Sistine Chapel, staring at Michelangelo’s painting of Adam and God with fingers almost touching each other’s. He mimicks the fingers with his two hands. He salutes the painting and moves on. After an hour of moving around and casing the place, he sneaks into a large room where most of the people are elderlies in red. He approaches one.


PEDRO – Excuse me sir, are you a Cardinal?
CARDINAL – You are not allowed here, sir. Please get out.
PEDRO – I came all the way from the Philippines to see the Pope.
CARDINAL – You can’t just come in and see the Pope without an appointment or reference. That’s the rule here. Please go.
PEDRO – Not by rules alone does Man live, but by the longings of his heart.


Before the Cardinal can reply, Pedro is gone. He sees a second Cardinal and says the same story, and is equally spurned, then a third. After six Cardinals, he is ready to give up. All this while, the seventh Cardinal is eyeing him, and approaches.


CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – Looks like everyone has turned his back on you. Let me guess. You want to see the Pope, am I right?
PEDRO – I vowed I would see the Pope before I die. I saved for 30 years to get here. I have a message for him.
CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – I could bring the message to him for you.
PEDRO – No, only I can give it personally.
CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – (Impressed by Pedro’s stubbornness.) Follow me then.
They walk hurriedly through a labyrinth of halls and corridors. Cardinal Giuseppe whispers something to a Swiss guard, who leaves and comes back, allowing the two to come in.
CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – Your eminence, a visitor from the Philippines.
POPE – Friend of yours, Giuseppe?
CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – No, your eminence. Just met him minutes ago.
Pedro is filled with awe and reverence, his age-old dream realized. He lays prostrate on the floor in front of the Pope, forming a cross with his arms.
POPE – Speak up, old man.
PEDRO – (Rising.) My name is Pedro. I have a message from the Filipino people, your eminence. (Hands the Pope a piece of wrinkled paper. The Pope tries to read in vain, and gives it back to Pedro.)
POPE – Read it to me.
PEDRO – (Reads the note.) Your Eminence, the Pope. We, the Filipino people, wish to consecrate our nation through your eminence to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Signed … there are 6,045 signatures here, your eminence. (He takes out a thick wad of wrinkled papers from his bag.)
POPE – Who gave this to you?
PEDRO – Father Arian, our parish priest in Sinaet, Ilocos Sur. He gave it to me at his death bed. He said it was important I give it to you because the destiny of our nation depends on it. He knew that for 30 years, I have been saving to fulfill my dream of seeing the Vatican. He knew I would not fail.
POPE – How did he know?
PEDRO – He said he saw how strong my faith was. After the super-typhoon Yolanda, Father Arian became very sick and died, your eminence.
POPE – (To Cardinal Giuseppe). Giuseppe, tell the Curia I want this scheduled immediately. We will consecrate the Philippines to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to avert future disasters. (To Pedro.) Where are you staying?
PEDRO – The Filipino priests were kind enough to give me food and shelter, but they laughed at me, betting with each other that I would not be able to see you.
POPE – Did you make a bet?
PEDRO – All my money, your eminence, 20,000 pesos. (The Pope and Cardinal Giuseppe laugh aloud.)
POPE – Is gambling permitted in the Vatican, Giuseppe?
PEDRO – (Interrupting.) Someone passed a hat for me. The bet was just a pretext to help me.
POPE – The Lord is kind to you. I think He needs you badly, that’s why.
PEDRO – Anything for the Lord, even my life.
POPE – Pedro, I have a mission for you. Give your complete address to Cardinal Giuseppe here. Giuseppe, give Pedro here a large box of rosaries. Give him 5,000, and ship it to his address at once. This is what I want you to do, Pedro. Give out the rosaries to every Filipino you meet when you get home, and tell them it was blest by me personally. Tell them to pray the rosary to ask the Lord for forgiveness and to save the Philippines from another disaster. If the rosary recipient looks rich, tell him he must share his bounty with the poor. Get his name and contact information. If he is poor, tell him he will receive bounty from a rich man if he prays earnestly for it. Then give him the name and contact information of the rich man. Send one hundred poor men to every rich man.
CARDINAL GIUSEPPE – A beautiful plan, your eminence, in line with your call for the global elite to share with the poor.
PEDRO – Your eminence. Please bless me that I fulfill this mission.
POPE – (He blesses Pedro.) Not for me, but for Jesus.
PEDRO – Yes, for the Lord. Your eminence, one more thing. (He hands a small digital camera to Cardinal Giuseppe.) I need a picture of us as proof that I was with you.


It takes Pedro only one day to give out the rosaries, because his picture with the Pope is splattered across the front page of every Philippine newspaper. CNN and Aljazeera features him. He was able to help a lot of Filipinos, rich and poor, the rich to share their bounties, and the poor to receive them. He was able to start a rosary movement across the entire archipelago.
Pedro is an instant global celebrity. A philanthropist, inspired by Pedro’s mission, finances his second trip to the Pope. This time, he is back with 30,000 rosaries. Today, he has made seven trips and have given out half a million rosaries, all blest by the Pope. God bless the Pope. God bless Pedro. God bless Cardinal Guiseppe.

Read Pope Francis’ call for global elite to share with the poor – http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/21/news/pope-speech-davos/index.html

when you cross turbulent waters, I shall be with you
in the wild rivers you shall not drown
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned
no flames shall consume you, as I am with you always
for I am the Lord your God your Saviour, the Holy One
for you are precious and glorious in My eyes
and I love you


Isaiah 43:2-8


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