Parents encourage youth: Go to UST, see the Pope
MANILA, Philippines – The usually strict Lola Caridad of 19-year-old Communication Arts major Kyla Paler suddenly had a change of heart when it came to the scheduled youth encounter of Pope Francis on Sunday, January 18 at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
"Siya pa nga nag-encourage sa akin pumunta (She was the one who encouraged me to go)," said Paler, who came with a group of 6 as early as 12 noon Saturday, January 17, to stay out on the street for the night.
Paler's group was the first to line up in front of UST's Gate 2 along España Boulevard, squatting right in front of the black railing that separates them from the campus.
"Gusto namin maganda ‘yung puwesto para makita si Pope (We want to be in a good spot to be able to see the Pope)," Paler added.
All 6 college students said their parents and guardians insisted that they go.
And so off they went with backpacks and a mattress in tow.
The young ladies cling on to their bags as they wait, appearing to enjoy themselves despite the volume of passersby in España and the occasional last-minute inquirers asking the guards which UST gates they can enter for Sunday's event. (Here's a guide: What you need to know: Pope Francis' UST visit)
Perhaps thinking of the long wait, the guard quipped about the 6 friends waiting that early for the Pope.
The 6 college girls have known each other since high school at the Santo Niño de Novaliches, a school based in Quezon City named after the representation of the child Jesus.
The Argentine pontiff who they await serves as their inspiration in strengthening their Catholic faith, said Paler.
Pope Francis, the first South American and Jesuit to become the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, is set to deliver a formal speech at UST, specifically addressed to the young people. (READ: Know their stories: Thomasian youth volunteers on papal visit)
The Holy Father of the Catholic faithful will also lead the Angelus, a devotional prayer to remember the deity Jesus becoming flesh. (READ: UST on Pope visit: Focus is on the message)
Paler said prayer and faith plays a crucial role in her life, providing her with a sense of purpose during hard times.
Pope Francis' words for the migrant workers
One of the girls, Jessica Holz, is a daughter of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
Through online chat, her Mama Marissa expressed to Holz her excitement for the 19-year-old to be able to glimpse the Pope.
Jessica's mother started working in Germany in 1994, one of the millions of OFWs who left the Philippines for better opportunities abroad.
Pope Francis himself has a soft spot for migrant workers, as his family moved from Italy to Argentina.
"The creation of opportunities for employment in the local economies will also avoid the separation of families and ensure that individuals and groups enjoy conditions of stability and serenity," the Pope said in his message during the 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Francis' heart also goes out to the migrant workers who "often encounter mistrust, rejection, and exclusion, to say nothing of tragedies and disasters which offend their human dignity." (READ: Filipinos respond to Pope Francis' cry vs human trafficking)
He proposes "a good synergy" to help "the causes of migration movements in which individuals are more victims than protagonists."
"It must also be emphasized that such cooperation begins with the efforts of each country to create better economic and social conditions at home, so that emigration will not be the only option left for those who seek peace, justice, security, and full respect of their human dignity," he added.
Holz, an Adamson University student, said she often prays for the safety of her OFW-mother. God has not failed her thus making her faith stronger, she said.
Pope Francis' words on young people's careers
Asked what she plans for her career, Paler said in a confident tone that she wants to become a writer.
Francis himself preached to a crowd of young people in Brazil during the 2013 World Youth Day about career choices: "God calls you to make definitive choices, and He has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment."
Holz for her part said smilingly that she wants to become a social worker.
Holz and her friends' joyful demeanor amid the teeming crowd in España hours before Pope Francis’ arrival at the pontifical and Catholic university gives meaning to his words to the young in 2013: "The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity, and the joy that is so characteristic of you." – Rappler.com