“’Di kami makapaniwala!”
These are the words of the two sons of Primitivo Dominador Geronimo, whose father had the chance to see the Pope last January 18, 2015 at Luneta (formerly Rizal Park). But this isn’t even the most remarkable part of the story.
75-year-old Primitivo Dominador Geronimo, simply known to many as Mang Primo, is a cripple. Partially paralyzed from the hips down, all he can do is lift his legs when his sons give him a bath, which is already a piece of good fortune despite his case.
“I personally think it was a miracle.”
Indeed, Danilo, Mang Primo’s oldest son, was spot on. Despite the jam-packed crowd—peaking at six million—Danilo and his younger brother, Ramil, were able to get their father through it and secure a position where the Pope’s “jeepmobile” would eventually pass thanks to the cooperative and helpful actions of people there. It took hours for them to wait there, and Danilo and Ramil were easily getting exhausted, while their father remained energetic and lively, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Pope.
The crowd went fanatical when they first saw a glimpse of the jeep. Their screams almost impossibly got even louder when it slowly made its way through the path it was assigned to take. Danilo and Ramil regained their vigour when the Pope drew closer. But no one got more thrilled than their father, Mang Primo. In spite of the ten years that his feet had not touched the ground, he was able to muster and gather all of his will and stood up, desperately trying to reach for Pope Francis’s hand even for just half a second. He didn’t however.
Nobody from the family expected anything like it to happen, especially because the doctors told them it was highly unlikely for it to happen considering the muscles in his legs have slowly weakened because of being unused.
“’Di na nga namin nagawang picturan e,” Ramil said, when I asked him for a verification that it actually happened. “Lahat talaga kami nagulat. ‘Di kami makapaniwala.” He then told me that they kept cheering their father on, and that the people beside them momentarily stood there in awe as well, their jaws dropping to the floor, eyes wide open, marvelling at the miracle that was Mang Primo.
It was truly a very memorable moment for the family, and especially, Mang Primo himself. When I asked him about the feeling of being able to stand up again after a decade, all he could do was smile and laugh. I saw the twinkles in his eyes, like he was replaying that scene over and over again in his head. He got teary-eyed too, finally saying, “Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ‘yon.”
Unfortunately, the mainstream media wasn’t able to cover this story. I definitely understand why, however. The main focus was on the Pope himself. Nevertheless, the people being touched by the Pope—whether figuratively or literally—should have also been represented.