MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles) – An oil painting depicting Pope Francis awaits the pontiff when he arrives in the Philippines this week. It is a gift from Filipino artist Dante Hipolito who was commissioned by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to do the artwork as a way to welcome the visiting head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Titled ‘Salubong’ (to greet or meet), it shows the Pope in the midst of Filipino farm workers and laborers after a day’s harvest in a rural agricultural field.
But there is a problem.
The ‘ordinary’ people featured in the painting are not ordinary people. They are celebrities from the movie and political world. They include movie stars Vilma Santos, newly-wed Marian Rivera and DingDong Dantes, Coco Martin, Gary Valenciano and presidential sister Kris Aquino. Also included in the painting is Senator Grace Poe.
In refusing to accept the gift, Pope Francis said that while he greatly appreciates the gesture, he would rather be painted or photographed with real ordinary people, like the victims and families of last year’s typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). “The main reason for my visit to the Philippines is to be in the midst of these unfortunate Filipinos,” said Francis who is scheduled to meet with the typhoon victims in Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit areas of the devastating typhoon.
So what’s going to happen with the prized painting?
The Adobo Chronicles learned that it will be displayed at the rotunda of the Batangas provincial capitol in Batangas City, south of the Philippines’ capital. Santos, who is prominently featured in the painting, happens to be the elected governor of Batangas province. She is one of many Filipino movie stars who have chosen to pursue a political career.