Grandmothers welcome fellow senior citizen Pope Francis

Frtizie Rodriguez

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Grandmothers welcome fellow senior citizen Pope Francis
A group of grandmothers gear up to welcome the Pope and show the world that age is just a number

MANILA, Philippines – They call themselves, ‘grandmothers for the Pope.’


Somewhere in the middle of an ocean of young Filipinos eagerly awaiting the Pope’s arrival on January 15 was a group of grandmothers quietly packing lunch. 


Trasly ­– short for Translacion – Cruz was up early on Monday in preparation for the big event.


Trasly and her friends arrived before noon to put up a food and water station in front of the Villamor Airbase, where they knew the pope would make his first appearance. (READ: Thousands welcome Pope Francis to the Philippines)


“These are for our volunteers at our parish, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Pasay,” the 65-year-old grandmother said. “They will be part of the human chain for the Pope.”


The human chains were tasked to provide security for the Pope, in addition to the human barricades formed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 


They were situated across the street where the pope’s motorcade eventually traversed. 


When Rappler talked to them in the morning, the volunteers knew that their chances of getting a good look at the Pope were slim, however, that was not their focus for today. “We are here for the Pope’s safety,” said a volunteer. 


COOL LOLA. Carol Tecson keeps cool despite the heat outside of Villamor Airbase where she prepares snacks for her fellow parishioners

Trasly and her friends spent the entire afternoon preparing the snacks for their parishioners, “but other people not part of our parish are welcome to eat too,” she added.


In her parish, senior citizens were put in charge of the food and water stations during the pope’s 5-day visit. 


The golden girls are all smiles despite the heat and the swelling crowds.


“Para sa akin, parang paghahanda ko na itong pagkita sa Pope. Paghahanda papuntang langit,” Trasly quipped. (The work I do preparing for the Pope’s visit is also preparing me for heaven.)


Pinoy seniors


Trasly and her friends want to show the Pope how strong Filipino senior citizens are, perhaps not physically, but in terms of will and passion. After all, the Pope is a senior citizen himself at 78.


Carol Tecson has been a public school teacher since 1978; two years from now she will reach the retirement age of 65.


“I want to show the Pope the state of our public elementary schools,” Carol said. “We have secondhand everything and our classrooms are overcrowded.”


She hopes that the government can increase funding for public schools. The veteran educator called on younger teachers to look at teaching not just as a vocation, but as a “mission.”


She shared how some of her students fail to maximize their learning opportunities at school, “They’re always hungry, how can they study well?” 


During these times, Cindy shifts roles from teacher to cook. “I give them food.”


Meanwhile, their friend Cindy Villas hopes both the pope and the government can take notice of the needs of senior citizens. “I hope our benefits (and) monthly pension can increase,” she said.


She also suggested providing better healthcare for the elderly, such as free monthly medical check-ups.


And of course, they need entertainment too. Cindy, a film lover, urges the government to provide free cinema tickets for all senior citizens regardless of where they live. “Dapat kahit saan kami pumunta, libre sana sine kahit hindi kami taga-doon.”  (We should be able to watch a free movie wherever we go.)


An hour before the Pope arrives, lola (grandmother) Trasly and her friends are standing strong. The grandmoms cannot contain their excitement. 


She admits that she does pray for some more extra years to be added to her already colorful life, but if that is no longer possible, then Trasly only hopes that today’s youth can be an inspiration for the coming generations. –

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