Pope FrancisIn the wake of the frenzied preparations for the much anticipated visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines commencing 15th January 2015, the residents of Davao already posted their reaction to it in a survey conducted by the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), through the Social Research, Training and Development Office (SRTDO), in the later part of 2014.

Davaoeños in the three districts of metropolitan Davao were asked about the level of importance of Pope Francis’ visit: Slightly above half (51.9%) of the residents of District 2 expressed that the visit is extremely important, while only slightly below half (48.6%) of the residents of District 3 thought so.  The residents along the city’s urban center (that is, the downtown area and its vicinities constituting District 1), posted only slightly above a third (39.8%) of their response to this question.  Meanwhile, both District 2 and District 3 agreed that the visit is important (32% and 28.8%, respectively); however, the same percentage (39.8%) of urban dwellers in District 1 thought of the visit as such.

slide_390394_4734748_freeIn a practical manner of speaking, it could be said that one in every three residents of Davao considers Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Philippines as generally important.

Given the frenetic preparations that have already started all over the country in eagerness of this pastoral visit which, for all intents and purposes, was precipitated by the horrible impact of the massive devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda on the eastern part of the Visayas, the respondents were then asked whether or not Davaoeños are prepared for the coming of this most charismatic of popes in modern contemporary era. The responses of the residents in the three districts (close to 80% of whom claimed to be Catholics) posted a slightly higher answer to this second question than the first one.  This time, District 3 residents believed that they are prepared, registering a percentage of 65.4%, as compared to the residents of District 2 with only 53.4%. Unsurprising perhaps (if the first question is anything to go by), urban dwellers of District 1 answered rather conservatively—only slightly below half (45.8%) of them said that they are prepared.

slide_390398_4734232_freeReligiosity Factor

Less than half of those surveyed considered religion as important (41.7% among females and 39.2% among males), and slightly above a third (36.8%) expressed that they attend religious services at least once a week—that’s one in every three respondents. An overwhelming majority of them (94.3%) though claimed non-membership in charismatic organizations.

Access to Mass Media and Internet

If we factor in the respondents’ access to all sorts of mass media including the use of internet technology (given that the frenzy building up toward the forthcoming papal visit has been extensively treated in broadcast, print and internet media for months now), the survey showed that nine in every ten owned a television (90%), and six in every ten (59.7%) have access to news media for three hours or more in a day. If rounded off, seven in every ten (at 67%) claimed that they have accessed to internet.

City-Wide Poll

The above data formed part of the survey results disseminated by two researchers from SRTDO, Ms. Mildred Megarbio-Estanda and Dr. Christine Diaz, in the second series of the City-Wide Social Survey (CWSS).  This second poll was conducted between the period of 20th-26th October 2014 in the three districts of Davao City (the first poll was done during the summer of 2014). Attended by various stakeholders coming from all over the city of Davao, including those from government, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), the academe, the business community, law enforcement agencies, local government units (LGUs), the media, and other civil society organizations (CSOs), the research dissemination took place on 28th November 2014 at ADDU’s Finster Auditorium.

The conduct of these social surveys, given their reach and scope, takes its cue from the polls that have been initiated by the Social Weather Station (SWS), headed by Dr. Mahar Mangahas. These two polls were funded by ADDU’s University Research Council (URC).

slide_390398_4734240_freeA Tell-tale Sign

This result provides an interesting pulse-reading—or better still, a social barometer—as to how Davaoeños generally perceive the level of importance of this rare papal visit, as well as the level of preparation that Davaoeños put into the coming of this gregarious Argentine Jesuit cardinal who took centerstage by storm upon his election as Pope Francis.

In Davao, as in the rest of the country, numerous countdowns leading to the much anticipated 15th January visit were already conducted midway toward the middle of the Christmas season or even earlier.  Preparations became even more feverish at the threshold of the celebration of New Year 2015, riding the crest of a wave of so much hubbub which accompanied the din of excitement shared between and among netizens of social media.

In the university’s Roxas Gate entrance, in particular, some members of the university community basked in the glow of having their photo taken with a life-size standee of this pope who has since acquired the status of a celebrity, as it were.

slide_390398_4734238_freeSome discerning critics might be quick to point out that the Davaoeños responses to the two questions posed in the second survey may be relatively lower as compared to, say, other regions in the Philippines.  However, the people of Davao’s undeniable anticipation of the coming of Pope Francis speaks well of the Filipino’s celebrated and decidedly “distinct” hospitality and generosity of spirit, each time a Pontifex Maximus occupying the Petrine office comes a-visiting.

It’s still a week away from 15th January, and many things are still unfolding in preparation for Pope Francis journey of solidarity with the Filipino people, especially those in calamity-ridden Eastern Visayas.  In which case, the people of Davao are making the effort to put their best foot forward for a date with destiny with the pope, “this” pope especially—this Jesuit of a pope whose entrance to the world stage came much like Yolanda’s. (by M. Isabel S. Actub, of Arrupe Communications, for the University Research Council, with data provided by Ms. Mildred Megarbio-Estanda and Dr. Christine Diaz)