Welcome for Pope Francis at the University of Santo Tomas

«As Jesus embraced, blessed and placed his hands on the children, the Filipino Youth seek your Fatherly blessing»

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Here are the prepared texts of the speeches and questions addressed to the Pope before his address to youth at the Univeristy of Santo Tomas in Manila.

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Encounter with Youth
University of Sto. Tomas
January 18, 2015

By Most Rev. Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD, D.D.
Chairman, Episcopal Commission on Youth

Your Holiness,

We thank God for the grace of your visit to us now. The Filipino youth sees in you as the Good Shepherd showing compassion to the lambs, especially to the lost, the least and the last. Our young people comprises majority of our Philippine population. They are full of innocence and idealism, with creative talents and big dreams for a better future. We thank you, Holy Father, for believing in their energy and eagerness, their honesty and hope, that they are gifts of the Church and treasures for the world.
Some of them experience different forms of poverty, the lack of basic needs, food, shelter and clothing, becoming victims of abuse, calamities and conflicts. They see in you as their Father who listens to their crises, their hopes and their dreams. They have full trust and confidence in the cross of Christ, as the manifestation of God’s boundless mercy and compassion. Amidst the different crosses they bear, they remain religious, faithful and loving sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church.
As Jesus embraced, blessed and placed his hands on the children, the Filipino Youth seek your Fatherly blessing and by God’s grace be renewed in telling the world of His love.
Welcome! Mabuhay ang Santo Papa!


One by one, the assigned youth representatives will go to the designated place to deliver their testimony. After each testimony the youth representatives approach the Holy Father to kiss his hand.

Mr. Jun Chura, Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, Inc.
Archdiocese of Manila

Dear Holy Father,
My name is Jun Chura, I am fourteen years old, and I am a former street child.
Because of the fact that my family was not anymore able to send me to school, I went away from home and left my family.

Then I was feeding myself with what I can find in the garbage. I did not know where to go and I was sleeping on the sidewalk.

I was looking for a piece of carton to make a mat. And I was trying to overcome this situation even if my body was so dirty like my companions in the street. They were also overcoming their situations in spite of the fact that their bodies were dirty also.
I did not know also how to find food day after day, and what I was doing was just to wait for people to finish their meal in restaurant, then I was asking for their leftover. Also sometimes I was roaming around just to find broken material that I could sell: I was looking for plastic bottles, or papers and when my bag was full, I was selling it to make some money to buy some food. It happened also that I was knocking at doors in the neighborhood to beg for food but often they had nothing to give.

When I was in the street, I witness also things I don’t like, terrible things that happened to my companions in the street: I saw that they were taught how to steal, to kill also, and they have no respect anymore for the adults. Sometimes they were quarreling because of the things they stole. I saw also some children who were taught how to use drugs like shabu, cigarettes or marijuana.

I saw also some of my companions sniffing solvent or glue. These are drugs also. This is what I have often seen happening to my companions in the street. When I was in the street I was also very careful because I saw also some of my friends being fooled by adults. They were pretending to give us money to catch attention and approach the children and let them think that they will be given something to eat, or the opportunity to study and care, but the truth is that they have other goal and they will use you, like for cleaning their homes, and sometimes they have malicious goals like sexual abuse. There are so many abuses happening in the street!

After a certain number of days, suddenly I found back hope because there is a street educator from Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, who asked me if I want to join this agency helping children living in the street. He asked me if I wanted to join, and at first I decline the proposal. Few days after, when I learned that Tulay ng Kabataan is really taking care of street children who are not anymore with their families, I realized that not all people have no heart. There are still people with hearts ready to help children in need.

When I joined Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, I was very surprised to see that there are people really ready to help and then I started to dream again. I told myself that when I will finish my study, I will be the one helping street children like me before.
I will be able also to help my own family and the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation which was the one helping me to continue my study.

I know today that I will be able to continue my study because TNK is at my side, and do not stop helping me and my companions from the street. Thank you so much!

Questions to the Pope: [asked by a girl accomanying Jun]

Dear Holy Father, I now want to ask you these questions: there are many children neglected by their own parents. There are also many who became victims and many terrible things happened to them like drugs or prostitution. Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it is not the fault of the children? And why are there only very few people helping us?

Mr. Leandro Santos II, Civil Law Student
University of Santo Tomas, Manila

Beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis:
Good day! I am Leandro Santos II, a student of the Faculty of Civil Law, from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Honored and pleased are statements that fall short in capturing the emotions that I now feel. I only wish that the words that I am about to utter be representative of the true heart and soul of all the Filipino Students out there in the landscape of today’s culture.

Holy Father, we, the students of today, are so fortunate to have the abundance of information available before us. Because of the emergence of the Internet and the boom of social media, information and knowledge has been readily available. The traditional learning coupled by the reinforcement provided by technology appears to be so promising that community expects better and brighter breeds of students.

Heroes that built nations and helped shaped the world were born in a time without all of these supports. If their promising values were molded in such a time where sources are limited, society demands that more heroes should rise up now due to the amount of support that is already served in front of us.

But the emergence of information also caused the emergence of sources of distraction. The students of today have more excuses now than our Filipino heroes had before.
With all of these, there exists a struggle on the way we use and process these pieces of information. A lot of them are going to waste, many of us are overwhelmed, we are distracted and our initiatives are scattered. Despite the advantages we have, we still feel lost and most of the time our focus is compromised.

The end purpose of technology, which is to equip and prepare us for the future ahead, is greatly challenged. As a young working student myself, I can personally attest that the distractions are difficult to avoid. The pleasures it temporarily bring, are appreciated by many as validation. The small amounts of contentment these distractions bring are being enough for some to live-by not considering the fact that this is in exchange of the unimaginable potentials we could get if only we are to focus on the things that matters.

Dear Holy Father, we need help. We need guidance. We need to learn to accept that the only validation
we need is the one coming from Him. In this particular moment, in the ever changing world, we the students need our values reassessed.

Reassessing our values as students is crucial if not the most crucial in the formation of our being. That in order to accomplish and live up to the expectations and responsibility we have towards the community, our values must be intact. And these values can only be best determined by making effort to hear God. Our neglect of the teachings of the church is what attracts and draws us to distraction. The absence of His guidance makes us weak and vulnerable. It eventually affects the way we handle information and learning. We need to accept that it is only by knowing God that we can have true fulfillment.

I saw this saying once, “Values compromise the things that are most important to us. They are deep-seated pervasive standards that influence almost every aspect of our lives – from the books we read to our religious beliefs. Our values are at the core of our personality. They influence the choices we make, the people we trust, the appeals we respond to and the way we invest our time and energy.” (American Management Association)

To the Filipino students of today, a challenge is confronted before us. Let us see pass these distractions. Let us fully utilize the gift of education and have the values that honors and glorifies our God Almighty. Thank you and May God bless us all.

Questions to the Pope:
Holy Father, please allow me to ask you these questions in behalf of all the young people of the Philippines: in a world where the youth is exposed to fast internet connection, smart phones, unlimited texting, instant romantic relationships and busy lifestyles, how can we take time to stop, reflect and listen to God’s will? And lastly, Holy Father, what is true love? In this generation, the definition of true love seems to lose its meaning. Most of us are engrossed with what we see in the movies and social media. How can we find true love in these modern times?

Mr. Rikki Q. Macolor, Electronics Engineer
Inventor of Solar Night Light for Tacloban Typhoon Yolanda Survivors

Dear Pope Francis,
My name is Rikki Macolor. I am 29 years old from Manila. I am a fresh graduate from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Santo Tomas. It has been over a year since the Yolanda incident has happened. However, my body could still remember the sensations that I felt when I alighted a cargo plane in Leyte; The stench, distraught and despair. I started to question myself if our research would even have any impact to any of the communities. I hope it would. I prayed it would.

Our project was simple: To provide lighting and, somehow, to also shed some light of hope to the calamity stricken communities. It was not high tech and I didn’t expect it to be big. I did neither dreamt of a flying robot nor a really fancy gadget. I just wanted to create something with my colleagues to be able to help the best way that we could. Additionally, I wanted to be able to utilize what we have learned from the University. So, I challenged myself and other students to do something. Make them realize that what good is it to know something but not be able to benefit our country from it especially at times of calamities.

I told them: “What we create does not have to be high tech. That is not what innovation is all about. Innovation is about being able to change other people’s lives.” And so we did. With the help of experts and NGOs, sectors of the government and UST, we were able to make the portable Solar Light.

However, I didn’t want it to end there. I wanted to be able to share the technology selflessly. Part of the project was to be able to teach the locals to be able to make it on their own. So instead of just giving it to them, we taught them how to make it. For them to appreciate the value of work and that despite all these there was still hope and that no one will be able to help them recover spiritually but themselves.

It was difficult, time consuming, out of our comfort zone and even, to a certain extent, putting our lives on the line. I was in Davao with a handful other students when Yolanda hit. I could still recall the rumbling of the plane as it landed on the airport.

Regardless, it was not for us. It was for these people who already lost so much. It is also not every day that you have the opportunity to help people in a great deal. With hard work, patience and working together, we were able to do something even in our capacity as students. We were able to help not only several communities such as Davao, Leyte, Cebu, Laguna, Tarlac, Tondo, Aklan but also parts of Pakistan and India.

I guess that is what living is all about. That we are not isolated entities but part of something bigger. And at times, we may have to leave everything behind momentarily to share part of ourselves.

Questions to the Pope:
Dear Pope Francis, how can we be successful without being blinded by earthly pursuits?  How can we pursue success and prosperity without being worldly? What more can the youth do? How can we, especially the youth, be agents of mercy and compassion?

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