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When the Pope came to Bacolod

Twinkling with Ninfa R. Leonardia

Surprise! Or is it one? The  team  from the World Health  Organization, or W.H.O. has found out in its latest study on the origin of the coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID 19, that it really came from China and they have early samples to confirm it. But there was no confirmation that Wuhan is the original source, so the team is going back  there to study blood samples of the earliest variants of the disease. Let us hope and pray that they will find leads to the conquest of this virus that has wrought so much damage to mankind already.

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But let us not grieve so much over the cancellations of our festivals, not only that  of Bacolod’s already famous MassKara, but all those of other town and cities that had also promoted tourism in our province because they brought home Negrenses now living  or working abroad. “Hindi tayo nag-iisa,” or We are not alone in such disappointment. Brazil with its famed festival also had to cancel its parades and street-dancing activities, and who knows how many other countries, towns, cities and barangays also had to forego their much-awaited festivities.

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If we in Bacolod are disappointed at not having our MassKara fiesta last October, how much more had the Brazilians been to cancel theirs, that had been celebrated for decades now, and was so popular that songs about it even became hits worldwide. And we should commiserate with the Brazilians because they are said to have the highest incidence of COVID also worldwide. We sympathize with them, even as we give thanks for not having as big a ratio as theirs in Bacolod, we should be thankful that the wearing of masks had been made mandatory, which must have accounted for our having less cases than other cities in the country.

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In New Zealand, people are crediting “social distancing” for them to reduce infections and they are to be admired for being protective of each other. Auckland has been on lockdown that will end on Wednesday yet and even if the people are restless, they are forced to observe it for their own protection. Businesses are conducted mostly online and the people are committed to observe it. As in any other health problem, such as epidemics and pandemics  like what we are going through now, the cooperation of the people is what will save them.

***

Am I glad that Fr. Felix Pasquin reminded me that Saturday, February 20 will be the 40th  anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bacolod City! I called him to tell him that the day is the birthday of my only sister, Perla, and he reminded me that that was also the date of the Papal visit. Do I remember that blessed day! It was a time of great expectation and happiness, especially for Catholics, who credited the opportunity to the diplomacy and persuasion of our dearly beloved and late Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich.

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Oh, the excitement and expectations throbbing in the city, especially among members of the Church. The Holy Father was to say mass and speak at the Reclamation Area, as not even the San Sebastian Cathedral could accommodate  those expected to attend his Mass! It was a big, big holiday for the city, a very rare chance for Catholics, especially, to see, for the first time the Head of the Church, in person. My sister, cousins and I were so fortunate to see him several times, by, first, watching his entourage pass by Lacson Street, then rushing on to the next area it would pass, and later at the Reclamation Area where the ceremonies were held.

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Of course some people took advantage of the event, knowing that there were no pews nor seats there, and some hawkers sold plastic chairs at the entrance for P100 each!  I laughed  when I saw my mother dragging her P100 chair that we had to carry home afterwards! Will Bacolod ever see a Pope coming again? Not during these COVID days, for sure, but who knows? It was one unforgettable moment in the city with all, or almost all officials as well as resident Catholics of its towns and cities coming to Bacolod for the event.

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But how can we let go of the subject of this pandemic that has still not shown signs of going away? Some countries are already vaccinating their citizens, and the United States is one of them, but is it true that most of its black community are refusing to be vaccinated? Maybe they are superstitious? In our distant barangays, maybe the people will rely on siruhanos or herbolarios, but what about those black ones  who do not believe in vaccinations? Will they remain a threat to others who, like them also refuse it? It is strange how, in this day and age, we still have citizens whose mindsets are still fixed on the olden days.*

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