Papal visit a gift to PH, business community says
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines gave a grand welcome to Pope Francis on Thursday, January 15, as he embarked on a visit seen as a blessing by the predominantly Catholic nation.
In interviews with Rappler, however, members of the business community agree that the papal visit outweigh any cost it may have on business. They also gave their respective messages to the pontiff, who is on a mission of "mercy and compassion" in the Philippines centered on the poor.
Even erstwhile Philippine Airlines (PAL) colleagues Ramon Ang and Jaime Bautista are one in relaying an inspiring message to the Pope, despite a failed partnership in 2014. Bautista returned to PAL as president in October last year to sort out what he called a "mess of its predecessor."
PAL is also the official carrier of the Pope in his domestic flights in the Philippines and when he returns to Rome.
Jaime Bautista, PAL president
"Holy Father, you are truly an inspiration to all humanity. Your deep humility, genuine concern for the poor, and your distinct ability to bridge people of all backgrounds and beliefs make you truly endearing to humankind across all parts of the globe. To us Filipinos, you are like a father we can approach and seek advice and solace. The gift of your presence in our country and the privilege of serving you in our flights are blessings we shall cherish forever."
Ramon Ang, San Miguel Corporation president
“Your holiness, your deep love and compassion for the poor and your message of peace, tolerance, and unity continue to inspire us to follow your examples and live the teachings of Christ. As you bring God’s love to the people of the world, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
To welcome the Holy See, Aseana Holdings commissioned artist Don Raymundo to build a statue of St John Paul II, the last pope who visited the country. The cast figure stands in Aseana City, a masterplanned community on a reclamation project along the shoreline of Manila Bay.
Aseana Holdings' parent company is D.M. Wenceslao & Associates. Its chairman and president Delfin Wenceslao Jr has a message to the Holy Father.
Delfin Wenceslao Jr, D.M. Wenceslao & Associates chairman and president
“We wish safe and secure travel for Pope Francis to and from the Philippines. His presence in our country will strengthen our faith in God and the Catholic Church.”
Rags2Riches co-founder Reese Fernandez-Ruiz wished that she could personally thank the Pope for inspiring the nation to revisit their spirituality.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, Rags2Riches co-founder
“Dear Pope Francis, thank you for being an inspiration to all of us for bringing us closer to Jesus. So excited to see you!”
Ruiz has recently been featured in Forbes' list of social entrepreneurs under 30. Her social venture started as a small livelihood project to help women in Quezon City's Payatas dumpsite.
The Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce also welcome the Pope with a message of hope:
Ramon Del Rosario, Makati Business Club president
“I will say to him, ‘Thank you for blessing the Philippines,’ because we all need the blessings. We hope he will inspire our people especially we in the business community to improve lives of our people.”
Peter Angelo Perfecto, Makati Business Club executive director
“He did welcome the fact that there are peace initiatives to Bangsamoro. All of this inspire us more to work harder for inclusive growth and development of our economy. It helps us aspire more for a peaceful and developed country. We want to thank him for his messages that he is spreading around the world. The things he say will have an impact.”
Julian Payne, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines president
“Continue your good work in addressing the needs of the poor and promoting inclusivity.”
To financial market analysts, the Pope's presence in the Philippines will bring opportunities.
Special non-working holidays have been declared in Metro Manila on January 15, 16, and 19, which worried the electronics industry.
Non-working holidays cost the industry P1.2 billion ($26.90 million*) per day, according to a 2014 study conducted by the MBC, which cited figures from the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc.
But First Metro Investment Corporation's Roberto Juanchito Dispo said, "I'm sure there will be recoveries down the road."
For the duration of the holiday, Dispo raised another way to look at the matter: imagine people from the countryside going to Manila, booking hotels, eating at restaurants, and buying consumer products.
"This is good for the economy since the Philippines is a nation of consumers," Dispo told Rappler.
Roberto Juanchito Dispo, First Metro Investments Corporation president
“I will thank him for choosing the Philippines as one of his destinations in Asia. It’s very positive for the country, considering a lot of positive things are happening at this point. We’re hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation – last year the World Economic Forum, the ASEAN financial ministers forum, and a year before that, the ADB international meeting. So in conclusion this is like a coming out party of the country.”
April Tan,Chartered Financial Analyst Philippines president
“You remind me to stay grounded and that we should prioritize God ahead of worldly desires.”
Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!