[Rewind #AwaNgDiyosPH] Street child’s life lessons that pierced a Pope’s heart




For Easter, The Filipino Connection releases articles from its special edition on the apostolic visit of Pope Francis last January 15-19, 2015.


MANILA–He loves history, particularly the stories of Filipino heroes —especially Andres Bonifacio’s.

Delivering a speech surrounded by mostly schooled youth at the University of Santo Tomas did give him some goose bumps. A heart-load of confidence was needed to overcome much nervousness for a 14-year-old boy to put in awe not only millions of people but also the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, with his youthful words.

Jun Chura (left) and Glyzelle Palomar (right), the streetchildren who spoke before Pope Francis at UST (photo by JASPER EMMANUEL ARCALAS / The Filipino Connection)

Jun Chura (left) and Glyzelle Palomar (right), the streetchildren who spoke before Pope Francis at UST (photo by JASPER EMMANUEL ARCALAS / The Filipino Connection)

Ako po si [I am] Jun Chura…”

The rest was history.

Donning a white barong, Chura looked unfazed fronting the 78-year-old Pope Francis. He recalled his story as a former son of the cold streets of Manila. He begged for food, survived on a day-to-day basis, and even witnessed the worst: children killing each other over some pieces of leftovers or snatched items.

Gusto ko lang po talaga ipahatid ‘yung buhay po ng mga bata sa kalye… na yung ibang mga bata po sa Pilipinas ay medyo nahihirapan na po. Kaya gusto ko po iparinig sa kaniya iyon na bigyan po sana ng solusyon [I just wanted to share what’s life on the streets, telling Pope Francis the hardships of children like me. I brought that message to him so that the Pope can offer a solution],” Chura said in a press conference after Pope Francis departed for Rome.

Chura is in the care of the nonprofit Catholic child services group Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation.

It was Chura alone who wrote his speech (unedited by anyone), as well as the abbreviated remarks of Glyzelle Iris Palomar, the 12-year-old instant sensation for leaving Pope Francis stunned given her tears over an innocent question: Why does God allow the children to suffer?” 

They didn’t receive a concrete answer. Actually, Chura and Palomar did: a papal hug.

Ang pagyakap sa akin ng Santo Papa ay nagpaphaiwatig na hindi pa lahat ng bata ay nawawalan ng pag-asa [When the Pope embraced me, I felt children like me are not losing hope],” Chura said.

Chura chose to live in the streets of Manila when his parents couldn’t afford anymore to support him. The violence and evilness of the streets that he himself witnessed led Chura to almost lose hope in life.

That’s until Chura and his brother Reggie were brought to Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, a non-governmental organization whose programs cater to streetchildren, children in slums, scavenger children and mentally-challenged youth.

Noong araw na iyon, doon na po ako nagsimulang mangarap [That day with the Pope, I started dreaming],” Chura said in his speech at the University of Santo Tomas.

Now, Chura has been with TNK for four years and is among some 2,400 former street children under the foundation’s care. He is currently at fifth grade studying at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City.

He was part of the thousands of children of TNK who sent Pope Francis letters last October, coursed through Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in time for the Third Extraordinary Synod of Bishops.

What happened to Chura before Pope Francis was beyond his dream, beyond what his heart could beat for.

Isa siyang pag-asa [Pope Francis is hope],” Chura told The Filipino Connection.

In his free time, Chura reads a lot of books donated to them, especially those of history subjects and sciences. He often plays the guitar and loves songs. The 14-year-old boy admitted that Bonifacio is his inspiration –especially in finishing school.

Soon, Chura wants to pay it forward: “Gusto ko po talagang tumulong sa mga bata para maipakita ko po sa kanila ang pagtulong sa akin ng Tulay [I want to help fellow street children as a means of paying forward].”

In his own respect and love for his fellow street children given his words in front of schooled middle-class young people, and viewed and heard by millions through mass media and technology, Jun Chura did an Andres Bonifacio.



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