Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Snubbing a papal honor.

(Update: as of June 21, 2012, there is still little sign of this news on Philippine secular media outlets. Among major columnists for national dailies it seems to have been mentioned only by Valeriano "Bobit" Avila and Federico Pascual. Readers are free to tell me in the combox if I missed other columnists who have mentioned this as of today. Only a few newspapers have mentioned it in their news section, and then only in passing as part of a quote from Vice President Jejomar Binay regarding his upcoming visit to Rome. Even then, either these newspapers or the VP got the date wrong -- the event will be held in 2016, not 2015 -- an honest mistake, for sure.)

I find it interesting that, in the more than 24 hours after the news was announced in Dublin via a recorded papal message, the Philippine secular media has ignored the selection of Cebu as the site for the next International Eucharistic Congress, in 2016. (See my earlier blog post, Cebu to be the site of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in 2016!)

I've been monitoring the websites of Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, ABS-CBN News, GMA News, and there is.... still nothing as of this moment (2:45 AM). If they have anything about the announcement, then it is so tiny and insignificant as to be very difficult to see, and I'm not a novice in navigating news websites. Even Cebuano news outlets such as The Freeman and Cebu Daily News seem to have nothing about the event. Either the Philippine secular media is extremely tardy about picking up news about their own country, or it doesn't care that the Pope has decided to bestow a signal honor upon the 'Queen City of the South'. Neither explanation brings much credit to Philippine journalism. 

I still remember how the Philippine media professed great respect for Pope John Paul II (despite their increasing disrespect for his moral teachings in the last 10 years of his life), and enthusiastically reported whenever a Philippine city would be selected for an international ecclesiastical gathering during the reign of the late Polish pontiff. Those times are long past, and I have no illusions about the level of respect that the Philippine media currently has for the Catholic Church (very little). However, this near-total boycott of the news astounds me; it would be unthinkable even in the West, where only two weeks ago the U.S.  and international media quickly reported Pope Benedict XVI's June 3 announcement that Philadelphia will be the next site of the World Meeting of Families, in 2015. 

The irony is that this snub comes just as the Cebuano media talks about the need for the Philippines to attract more visitors from abroad by the year... 2016! (See this article.) Perhaps religious pilgrims don't count?

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