A shrine dedicated to John Paul II in the Philippines

altA shrine dedicated to John Paul II in the Philippines will coincide with the late pope’s beatification. The shrine would feature a statue of John Paul II and a replica of the stage from where he celebrated mass. It will be inaugurated on May 2, a day after John Paul II’s beatification in Rome. It will be located in a former U.N. refugee camp.

In 1979 President Ferdinand Marcos provided a site (365 hectare of land) for the establishment of refugee camp. The Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC) located in Barangay Sabang, Morong, Bataan was established on January 21, 1980 with an agreement between the Philippines and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a way of helping the refugees of Indo-China conflict.

Probably about 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian stayed in the PRPC camp from 1980 to 1994 after coming from the first asylum camps in Palawan and others located in HongKong, Thailand and Malasya. They were called “boat people” because almost all of them arrived by boats crossing the China Sea. The UNHCR closed the PRPC camp in January 1995 and many refugees were resettled to different countries. Today, the camp has been converted into an eco-tourism destination known as the Bataan Technology Park.

Pope John Paul II made two visits to the Philippines:

The first for the Beatificazione (February 18, 1981) of Lorenzo  Ruiz de Manila (and other martyrs). On February 21, 1981, the Pope visited the PRPC refugee camp and held a field mass attended by thousands of refugees of different religions and belief.

His second visit was in 1995 when the Philippines hosted the World Youth Day Catholic festival. An estimated crowd of between five and seven million attended his Mass in Luneta Park, Manila, which was considered to be the largest single gathering in Christian history.


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