MANILA, July 12, 2011?Just twenty-eight days before departure, quite a number of Philippine delegates to the World Youth Day are backing out from joining the event in Madrid, Spain, mostly for financial reasons.
An undisclosed number of delegates who are part of the official Episcopal Commission on Youth delegation of 436 pilgrims are canceling their trips due to monetary concerns.
ECY Executive Secretary, Fr. Conegundo Garganta said even those who have been given visa have decided not to proceed to the WYD because they cannot afford the airfare.
Each delegate will have to shell out an estimated USD 1,800 or Php 78,000 for a two-way trip to Madrid, Spain, aside from the WYD registration fee and other related expenses.
Fr. Garganta, however declined to give the exact number of delegates backing out.
He said some delegates have been phoning the ECY office informing them of their intention to back out but have not officially cancelled their participation.
Exchange students back out from WYD
Despite seemingly disheartening news, there are WYD pilgrims not joining the event for â€œbetter reasons.â€
According to Milarie Babia, sub-group leader of Institucion Teresiana (IT) youth, there are 12 delegates from their sub-group who chose not to participate in the WYD because they will be sent as exchange students to Barcelona, Spain late this year.
â€œ…They will be sent as exchange students for the â€˜alternative learning programâ€™ of their school, St. Pedro Poveda College,â€ she explained.
The alternative learning program is an annual exchange program of St. Pedro Poveda College where students are sent to schools outside the country to learn the country’s culture and to exchange learnings with students there.
Fewer delegates this year
The number of delegates for this yearâ€™s WYD is just a little more than half the 800 delegates the ECY was able to send to the last WYD in Sydney, Australia in 2008.
Money is a major concern for most delegates, according to Maria Victoria Tacderas, senior staff of the ECY-NSYA.
â€œThere are some [who] reach[ed] the last phase of the application and still back out because they canâ€™t reach the minimum monetary requirement to sustain their trip,â€ she explained.
Tacderas also said that the distance of Spain from the Philippines also determines the monetary requirement that each delegate should meet. (Jandel Posion)