Although Australia is not considered a Christian country, they still have a good number of Catholics here. And even if some of them were a bit negative on having WYD08 pilgrims here, there were still a lot of people who were happy to see Sydney alive with so many people from different countries and of course, they were excited to see the Pope.
Offending as it may seem to Catholics like me, we have to understand that Australia has a small population of approximately 21 Million, that's why Aussies were never used to big crowds...and I think they're actually more scared (rather than being truly irritated) of being inconvenienced by events like WYD08. They hate traffic, they are appalled when their personal space is invaded and they don't like delays when it comes to public transportation. That's how they are, that's their culture and we have to understand where they were coming from.
I would like to commend the Aussies for being good sports in all these. Given the things I wrote on my previous paragraph, I would still say that Australians are one of the friendliest people in the whole world. They were cordial and polite to WYD08 pilgrims. Saying "Welcome to Sydney" was a natural trait of any Australian and you can hear them greeting delegates even in the middle of street.
I don't know if it was luck or it was really meant to be, but after lunch on Thursday (17 July 2008), we found ourselves a spot at Sydney Opera Bar, amongst half-Aussies (read: migrants turned Aussies) and some true blue Aussies.
The wait for the Pope's Boat-a-cade was a memorable experience in itself as we became friends with people of our kind (technically, Chris and I were half-Aussies too since we are migrants). It's like God's way of saying "This morning, you were able to commune with fellow Filipinos, this afternoon, I would like you to be with people like you because you are also a part of this country."
Our Little Group While Waiting for the Pope
It was a wonderful gift (as being with fellow Pinoys was) to be able to hear of stories where they came from, what brought them here and why they love Australia. The amazing part was, Chris and I were also telling them of our stories too--from where we came from, what brought us here and why we love living in Sydney. A good validation that we did belong here too.
With Maria (from Vietnam) and Sister Clare (a Nun from France)
Chris with Siggy and his Wife (they were from Germany)
Chris and I (of course from the Philippines!
The Australian faith is as strong as any other faith and they love the Pope very much that's why they came flocking the streets of Sydney just to see His Holiness. Some of them even prayed the rosary while waiting for the Boat-a-cade and Motorcade. Other than Filipino Angels, we have been touched by Aussie Angels that one fateful day and it was one learning experience we will never forget.