Bukidnon youth leader cuts on expenses to save money for Pope’s visit

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/17 January) – A youth leader obliged herself to cut on expenses so she can save money for the plane ticket to Manila as one of the delegates of the Diocese of Malaybalay to the youth encounter with Pope Francis on Sunday, Jan. 18, at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Shiela Lumambas, head of the youth formation core team of the diocese, said that after knowing she could join the trip to Manila she started to save so as not to miss the opportunity to see the Pope. She flew to Manila on Friday.

“It is an investment for young people, it is an opportunity I could not miss,” she said.

Lumambas, 23, works as associate editor of the church-run Ang Bandilyo newspaper for her day job.

She said young people like her took the opportunity to travel to Manila for the youth encounter with the Pope because others need to travel abroad just to see him.

But since it entails cost, she and the other delegates have to make sacrifices.

The Episcopal Commission on Youth allotted 60 slots for the delegation from the Malaybalay Diocesan Commission on Youth. But Lumambas said only 53 confirmed to attend due mainly to the cost of travel.

She was able to buy a round-trip Laguindingan (Misamis Oriental)-Manila ticket at a discounted rate of P3,000 plus. But others were unable to avail of such rate.

She said many intended to attend because of the possibility of a free ride on a Philippine Air Force’s C-130 plane. They initially submitted 15 names and later 40, but no confirmation came.

Seven members of their delegation tried to get slots on the PAF plane at 6a.m. on January 16 from Cagayan de Oro City but failed.

Lumambas cited that Jay-ar Yabo, a member of the Bukidnon youth delegation, was picked to join a lunch with Pope Francis in Manila.

Yabo is a volunteer teacher at a community school for indigenous peoples started by Fr. Conrado Casas in the San Francisco Javier parish in Kibangay, Lantapan town.

Lumambas said today’s youth are facing many challenges in values and in faith, so they are looking at the Pope as an inspiration and guide.

She said she wanted to hear directly from the Pope his message on “mercy and compassion,” the theme of his pastoral visit to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, or 20 years after the visit of Saint Pope John Paul II in January 1995 for the World Youth Day.

She said young people gravitate toward Pope Francis because of his inspiring life and his messages that directly apply to the youth.

“It is just right that the young people should also benefit from the Pope’s pastoral visit,” she added. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)