Pope Francis blesses during his Wednesday general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Pope Francis blesses during his Wednesday general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Filipino politicians have been known in the past for promoting themselves through giant billboards announcing projects funded by the government through their pork barrel funds.

The Supreme Court's decision in 2014 that the pork barrel is unconstitutional and public outcry led to a stop in the politician's practice of advertising themselves.

The five-day pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines on Jan 15-19 could have been another opportunity for local politicians to grandstand by erecting giant welcome banners for the pontiff with the names as part of the tarpaulin, but Vatican just doused cold water on that opportunity.

The Holy See instructed the Archdiocese of Palo, one of the Philippine provinces battered by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013, not to place banners and tarpaulins with the face of Pope Francis, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Instead of his face, the pope would rather have the faithful carry banners with the face of Jesus, Mary and the saints, said Fr. Amadeo Alvero, head of the information and social communications committee of the papal visit in Palo.

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The same Vatican rules will surely apply in Metro Manila where Pope Francis will have more activities, including a farewell mass expected to attract 6 million people, which would break the 5 million record set in January 1995 during the World Youth Day mass in Manila celebrated by Pope John Paul II.

Still on Palo, the papal visit has brought out the creative juices of Filipinos such as the hoax news article by satirical Web site Adobo Chronicles that said Pope Francis allegedly scolded the mayor of Palo, Remedios Petilla, for seeking the transfer of 250 families who live in bunk houses in Barangay Candahug to a place five kilometres away from the sight of the pontiff.

The satirical Web site even quotes an alleged letter from the Vatican that had the pope saying, "What part of 'visiting the typhoon victims' do you not understand? That is the primary reason I am coming to the Philippines. Do not displace them just to impress me because I am not that easily impressed, especially by those who are not truthful like yourself."

The hoax article even adds that the Vatican is considering the issuance of guidelines that would allegedly ban the female mayor from coming near the pope when he visits Leyte Province.

Actually, 35 years ago when Pope Paul VI visited Manila - the first pope to set foot in the Philippines - another woman from Leyte had Manila's slum districts boarded up so the pontiff then wouldn't see poverty. After all, the mantra of that woman, then First Lady Imelda Marcos, was the foreigners should only see "the true, the good and the beautiful" aspects of the Philippines.

To contact the writer, email: v.hernandez@ibtimes.com.au