MANILA (UPDATE) — What was supposed to be a "big celebration" as the Catholic faithful marked the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary turned out to be a "prank" after government rescinded its implementation of a looser lockdown, a church official said Wednesday.
"Isang ano po ito sana big celebration. Sabi nga namin, isang regalo sana sa ating lahat na magkasama-sama at i-celebrate 'yung birthday ng ating ina," Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badon told TeleRadyo.
(This was supposed to be a big celebration. Like what we said, this was supposed to be a gift to us, of coming together and celebrating the birthday of our mother.)
But, it turned out, "it's a prank," he said, as the government decided at the last-minute to defer the implementation of general community quarantine in Metro Manila. The stricter modified enhanced community quarantine will remain in effect until Sept. 15.
"Na-prank tayo kasi masayang-masaya na tayo at excited tayo na magkasama-sama tayo sa misa hindi lang 'yung virtual," he told Teleradyo.
(We were pranked because we were so excited to see each other during the Mass and not only virtually.)
"Although okay naman tayo sa virtual, kaya lang 'yung excitement natin na magkikita-kita tayo tapos biglang nabawi na bawal ulit," he added.
(Although we're fine with having a virtual [Mass], we were excited to see other then it was deferred again.)
While in-person masses are still prohibited, Badong urged the faithful to pray for enlightenment for leaders and politicians during the Nativity of Mary.
"Magdasal tayo sa tulong ni Maria na maliwanagan talaga 'yung mga isipan, lalo na, diretsahin ko na 'yung mga politician natin na ngayon ay, 'yung mga lider natin kasi abala sa kani-kanilang mga political agenda, mga away-away," he said.
(Let's pray through the help of Mary that they will be enlightened, especially, I'll say this straight, our politicians and leaders who are preoccupied with their political agenda [and] fights.)
"Lalong nahihirapan ang mga mamamayan natin. Nagugutom na, walang trabaho, may bagyo pa. Tapos sila puro meeting, puro kung ano-ano, tapos nakalimutan 'yung mga importanteng bagay."
(The public is suffering. Many are hungry, have no work, and there's a storm. Then, they are all having meetings and whatnot and have forgotten what's important.)
The Palace had earlier announced that Metro Manila's 13 million people would shift to GCQ with alert level system from Sept. 8 to 30.
The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 "deferred the pilot implementation" of the shift just on Wednesday night, it said.
Under MECQ, physical religious gatherings remain prohibited.
Fr. Aris Sison, parish priest of St. John Paul II Parish in Quezon City, called on the government to get its act together.
"Binilang ko kanina, 18 mos na pala tayo. Parang nakakalito na lang everytime. 'Di ba dapat by this time, may sistema na tayo. Sumusunod naman eh. So, the simpler, the better," he told TeleRadyo.
(I counted it and we're already 18th months [into the pandemic]. It's confusing every time. By this time, we should already have a system. People follow. The simpler, the better.]
He said announcements should be made days ahead and communicated clearly so the public could prepare. Quarantine classifications should also be announced together with guidelines.
"Parang ewan ko ba. Parang lahat nalito, kasama sila," he added.
(I don't know. It's like everyone's confused, including them.)
As the 2022 elections nears, Sison urged Filipinos to choose their leaders wisely as the pandemic is expected to linger.
"Kailangan natin ng mga pinuno na kaya tayong tulungan na makabangon, makaahon mula dito," he said.
(We need leaders that could help us rise up from this problem.)
"Ang nangyari, nabola tayo. Marami kasi ang nabilib dun sa mga mabulaklak na pananalita nung kampanya tapos inamin na joke lang pala 'yun," he added.
(What happened was we were fooled. Many were impressed by the flowery language during the campaign then later they admitted they were just joking.)
Sison also criticized the convention of PDP-Laban in which 400 party members are expected to attend in San Fernando, Pampanga.
"Hindi kami pinayagan mag-misa tapos tuloy convention ng PDP-Laban. Bakit ganun?" he said.
(We were not allowed to hold Mass but the convention of PDP-Laban is. Why is that?)