Blessed John Paul II shrine unveiled in Bataan

By Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2011 08:46 PM | Updated as of May 03 2011 04:46 AM

BATAAN, Philippines - Hundreds of visitors flocked to the Bataan Technology Park (BTP) in Morong for the unveiling of the Blessed John Paul II memorial shrine.

BTP Inc. used to be a refugee center for some 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians who escaped conflict in their countries during the late 1970s.

Blessed John Paul II, then the pope, visited the center during his first trip to the Philippines in 1981.

While most of the "boat people" did not know who he was, BTPI officials said his presence uplifted the refugees' spirit and demonstrated the late Pope's immense love and concern for "all the children of God."

A life-sized statue of Blessed John Paul II was constructed in the shrine out of cement and sand by Conrado Balubuayan of Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

It depicts the late pope standing on top of a boat with a family of refugees.

The shrine is meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of  Blessed John Paul II's first visit to the Philippines and celebrate his beatification last Sunday.

BTPI vice-president and project executive director Commodore Amado Sanglay said that Blessed John Paul II will always have a special place in the hearts of Filipinos.

"We constructed this shrine because as a tribute and out of respect and veneration for Pope John Paul II," he said. "His contributions to the Catholic faith, conflict resolution, and his love for the youth make him really special in the eyes of many people."