Ormoc dance group to welcome Pope Francis to Leyte

Aaron Cotejar, Frane Oliveros, Michelou E. Guisihan, Regie Sabela
Ormoc dance group to welcome Pope Francis to Leyte
Find out why a group of young students from Ormoc and nearby areas are spending their time and money to welcome Pope Francis through song and dance
TACLOBAN, Philippines — Pope Francis will be welcomed by Leyte’s SWAG.

SWAG, which stands for “Saved with Amazing Grace,” is a group of 176 dancers or “animators” who will perform when the pontiff visits Tacloban and Palo on Saturday, January 17.

The group will be divided into two: 94 will perform as the Pope lands in DZR Airport in Tacloban City, and 82 during the meeting at the Palo Cathedral, according to John Leonard Malazarte, SWAG’s officer-in-charge.

The group will perform dance interpretations of 3 songs: 

  • “Shepherd’s Love,” a song composed by the group’s organizer himself, Fr. Kim Margallo. He is the local Archdiocese’s Director for the Commission on Youth. 
  • “We Are All God’s Children,” the official theme song of the 2015 Apostolic Visit to the Philippines. 
  • “Mercy,” the official theme song for the Pope’s visit to Leyte. International electropop band Ooberfuse, whose lead singer is a Taclobanon, produced the song.


“I have class the whole week, even on Sundays. But other students are only available during Sunday so I really have to meet them for the practice and sacrifice my class on that day,” said Ma. Cameli Campos, an IT student of Eastern Visayas State University-Ormoc,and one of the dancers. 

The dancers come from different parishes.

Campos is from St Mark the Evangelist Parish, Linao, Ormoc City. She loves dancing and attending parish activities. She doesn’t mind missing class to attend rehearsals. 

“I’m sad about it, because we are already behind in our lessons, but at the same time happy because I am going to serve for the papal visit by showing my talent in dancing,” she added. “The group gives me happiness and enjoyment.”

Clint Bucabuca, another dancer, said they came to Tacloban using their personal money.

“Our group has [gone carolling] to raise money to finance our needs, like food, costumes and transportation,” said Bucabuca.


Margallo assembled the group two months before the papal visit.

SWAG started with 9 pioneering members. With the blessing of the Archdiocese, they screened and recruited up to 200 members, but the number went down because some could not consistently participate.

The dance of Margallo’s song, “Shepherd’s Love,” will “reflect the sentiments of survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda,” Margallo said. “It is at first festive, then becomes sad because of the tragedy. But in the end, it reflects hope amidst hopelessness.” 

“I am happy and excited to perform the dance in front of Pope Francis,” said Campos.

Pope Francis said the main purpose of his Philippine visit is to be with the survivors of Yolanda. Millions from Leyte and Samar are expected to flock to Tacloban on Saturday for the pontiff’s arrival. – Rappler.com

The authors are campus journalists of Eastern Visayas State University-Tacloban City. Their student publication is called The Industrial Wheel, recently hailed as the Best Campus Press outfit in Region VIII.

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