Nora S. Bunso writes about her electrifying encounter with Two Rockstars, who do not belt out songs, but remind us of how God can be so near to us if we are with individuals like them.
Excitement visibly rippled across the crowd as each “status report” was immediately passed along. “His plane has landed! . . . Arrival ceremonies are underway! . . . The motorcade is leaving Villamor! . . . Get ready, we’re almost there.” After months of anticipation, the crowds lining the streets from the foot of Buendia flyover couldn’t be any readier. As the motorcade rode past, headed for the church, hundreds of parishioners in colorful, specially-silkscreened T-shirts cheered and waved yellow flaglets, streamers and I love you posters.
Soon, amidst the pealing of the bells and showers of petals, the assembly of priests, nuns, brothers and the rest of the parishioners in the churchyard erupted in jubilant applause and shouts of Viva and Mabuhay as they eagerly crowded around a white van, impatient as children of returning OFWs. At last, two days before Christmas 2010, the relics of St. John Bosco had finally arrived for the FIN leg of its four-year worldwide pilgrimage. In the next days, hundreds of thousands of Don Bosco’s children would pull out all the stops in exuberantly honoring their beloved and loving father.
For who could not love Don Bosco? I remember listening enthralled to my brothers’ endless stories of a kind priest, who really loved children . . . poor, noisy, homeless and not too clean, he loved them anyway. He would take them on long hikes, join in their games, laugh with them, and teach them many things. He was the greatest teacher, a saint! My brothers would brag, “That is why we are Bosconians; our school is his school! That’s his statue in our quadrangle.” Back then, I wasn’t too sure what a saint was but I had seen his statue, and after those stories – wow, was I impressed! Barely four years old, and still mastering the language, I remembered staking my claim, “Love ko si DON BOSKO! Ikaw, love mo si DON BOSMO?”
Five years after welcoming Don Boso’s relics, the same community, with just as much fervor, joined the millions carpeting streets, parks and airports while cheering for another charismatic priest, who, this time, rode a Pope Mobile (or a blue Volkswagen.) Like Don Bosco, Pope Francis is a holy man, who truly loves the poor, the suffering and the unlovable, tirelessly champions their cause and seeks to be among them, despite typhoons, barricades and PSGs. Like Don Bosco, Pope Francis, draws us closer to the “Good Shepherd,” with every homily, every allocution, hug and smiling wave. And yes, just like Father Bosco, the Holy Father adores the Madonna and invites us to call on her too. With so much love emanating from these holy fathers, no wonder people flock to them in droves. No wonder, they rock!
Outside the MOA Arena, while the waiting crowds were rehearsing the cheer, “Papa Francisco, Mahal ng Pilipino” (immediately forgotten and replaced with shrieks when the Pope arrived), I recalled the catchy “John Paul II, we love you!” of WYD ’95 and the “Viva Don Boscos” of five years ago. But what if Don Bosco were alive, a living saint coming to the Philippines? Then surely I will be out there with throngs of his children waving and shrieking “Don Bosco, Don Bosco, Don BOSKOOOOO!”
 OFW – Overseas Filipino Workers
 FIN – SDB Philippine North Province
 “I love my Don Bosco! Do you love your Don Bosco?”
 PSG – Presidential Security Group which helped secure Pope Francis
 MOA- Mall of Asia, venue of one of the 2015 Papal Visit events
 “Pope Francis, loved by Filipinos”