Dear Pope Francis,
I am not a religious person, I really am not. But I was brought up as a Catholic, and I understand why your visit to the Philippines is a big deal — it is not everyday that the leader of the Church visits our predominantly Christian country.
And I am sorry for the way that my country welcomed you.
I am sorry for the sharks who wanted to feel good about themselves by giving you an elaborate welcome, as if that alone can atone for their pretensions and corruption.
I am sorry you had to hear our president’s template speech: Yes, he always seems to blame others for the country’s situation, and yes, he always glorifies his family… among other things.
I am sorry that people concentrated more on that responsorial psalmist than the message you tried to say during your mass… then hashtagged your name to it.
I am sorry for their pretentious programs and for the crying (former) orphans that they dressed up to cry in front of you, instead of showing you the slums that you would no doubt see if it weren’t for the high walls covering them up.
I am sorry for the tacky shirts and mugs and paraphernalia that vendors are selling everywhere, but they probably needed the money and thought they can make some out of your visit, except those malls that sold them too, that was really just pure capitalism.
I am sorry for the tasteless life-size images set up in random places. I saw them at the theater, and they even put on a yellow rain coat for you because it was the same day you wore a yellow raincoat in the rain in Tacloban.
I am sorry for the media commentary that wanted to put words in your mouth without confirmation. Legitimate reporting died long ago, and now, everything is yellow. Unfortunately, yellow journalism is included.
Most of all, I am sorry they tried to make a tabloid celebrity out of you instead of making your visit about your purpose.
Please don’t take it against everyone, you have genuinely inspired many, and I am sorry your visit did not reflect that properly.