Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Pope John Paul II Tower

The Pope John Paul II Tower is an eight storey-building which sits at the sight where Pope John Paul II held a mass during his visit to Bacolod City in 1981. I remember that day. Our family went to the plaza to see the Pope. I was wearing this white t-shirt with the Pope's picture on it. And an oversized sunglasses, which might have been an in-thing during that time or it was just me. Mama Riz (Nanay's younger sis) recalls Nanay being too prepared for the whole Papal Visit thing. We brought big abanikos, banig and one basket full of food and drinks more than enough for our delegation of 7. Then we found ourselves a comfortable spot under one of the trees in the plaza where we rolled out our banig and enjoyed our baon. I'm pretty sure everybody was there to see the Pope. But me, being a youngster, I was there for the food and the fascination over seeing people excited to see an old guy in white riding a cool car. Thinking about it now, I kind a wish I was older when the Pope visited our city. It must have been an overwhelming experience seeing His Holiness in person. I guess I just have to save up for a trip to the Vatican City to see his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. I wonder how long that would take...

Our first visit inside the tower happened last April during the Holy Week celebration. We were fortunate that it was open on Good Friday. There weren't many visitors so we practically had the tower to ourselves for the much coveted photo-op. The tower housed memorabilia of the beloved Pope: An alb of the late Pope, photos, news article reprints and pictures and interesting artifacts. I heard the diocese is receiving donations in the form of religious artifacts which they plan to install in the tower in the hope that it will eventually become a "pilgrimage site". During our visit, there were paintings mounted on each floor that served as markers of the way of the cross. The art works were by the following artists: Rafael Paderna, Agustin Jakosalem, Dodz Campos, Edbon Sevilleno, Br. Tagoy Jakosalem and Jun Jun Berondo. On the 8F is a viewing deck where we enjoyed the summer breeze, a panoramic view of the Guimaras Strait, the activities in the BREDCO port, SM City and the San Sebastian Cathedral. Topping the building is a 12-foot stainless steel lighted cross donated by Architect Ramiro "Chick" Garcia, former vice-mayor of Bacolod City.

Do come and visit the John Paul II Tower when you are in Bacolod. And don't forget to bring your kids and youngsters. So they can also learn more about the beloved Pope John Paul II.

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