MADRID, August 19, 2011?In what seems to be the most jarring cultural shock of all, several Pinoy delegates to the WYD have been harassed by anti-Catholic protesters in separate incidents during the World Youth Day in Madrid.
Profanities from a stranger
Fr. Ransom Rapirap, OCD, a cluster head handling eight sub-groups under the official Philippine delegation, narrated how a Spanish man, who obviously recognized them to be WYD delegates, shouted profanities at him and Jan Dell Posion, another Pinoy delegate, while they were asking directions from a pharmacist yesterday morning in a neighborhood in Alcorcón.
“Suddenly he wanted to cross the street but he was already shouting towards us…The tone of his voice and the expression of his body. Parang (He looked as if) he wanted to crush you,” Rapirap added.
Posion, a member of the media team covering the Philippine delegation, shared that though the incident was shocking in itself, it may point to a more startling reality.
“Di ko lang lubos maisip na sila ‘yung nagdala ng Christianity sa’tin, pero bakit ngayon andami ng anti-Catholics? Ano kaya ang nangyari? (I just cannot fathom that they brought Christianity to us, but why are there so many anti-Catholic Spanish people now? What happened?”)
JC Perez, a Jesuit novice who came to Madrid under the Archdiocese of Manila, had a more direct confrontation with the anti-Catholic, anti-Pope protesters. Perez was chanting together with other delegates, as they are known to do in public places in Madrid, particularly in train stations, when the protesters met them with derogatory chants of their own, seemingly in an effort to provoke them.
In another incident, two Pinoys who came as delegates of Dubai, Chris Asero, 28, and Rome Jarlego, 27, were walking along Sol, Madrid on August 17 when they encountered the protesters harassing some Italian, German and French WYD delegates who were chanting in unison.
“May mga nagmumura na. ‘Yung mga placards nila talagang derogatory (Some were already cursing. Their placards were really derogatory),” Asero added.
Somalia, not WYD
In an interview, Jarlego and Asero estimated that around 3,000 protesters were present at that time, answering the WYD delegates’ with anti-Catholic chants of their own.
According to Jarlego, the protesters were against government spending for the WYD.
They advocated, instead that countries like Somalia be given aid or even Spain itself which is in the middle of an economic slow-down like the rest of Europe.
Asero explained that the protesters are unaware that the Spanish government did not fund the WYD but that each delegate had to shell out a USD 500-registration fee for the week-long event.
He also added that the WYD would actually benefit Spain, “Sa pag-buhos ng mga turista sa bansa nito..Malaking bagay na ‘to sa economy nila, sa tourism. (With the arrival of tourists in their country…It will be a big boost to their economy, to tourism.)
Bishop William Murphy who gave a short talk to many of the Pinoy delegates together with other English-speaking pilgrims on Aug. 18, said about the protesters, “They may be angry with us because we represent something that challenges something in their own lives.”
In an interview while waiting for the Holy Father to arrive in Parque de Retiro yesterday, Jarlego said that the encounter with the anti-Catholic protesters is a personal message to him to “be firm in faith lalo na sa modern age ngayon” (especially in our present modern age).
No reports of protests involving physical violence have been reported so far. (Nirva’ana Delacruz)