MANILA, PHILIPPINES : A record breaking 6 million people gathered in Luneta Park in Manila to see Pope Francis, ooberfuse’s up-tempo composition Mercy blasted from the monster PA system helping to build the festive atmosphere amongst the rapturous audience in a triumphant finale to Francis’ Asian tour.
The London-based band had written the song in support of the resilient Filipino spirit, defiant after the world’s most devastating typhoon Haiyan.
At a press conference on Sunday evening, following the event Vatican, spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi said : “We have seen so many people that we believe it is possible that this is the largest event of the history of the Pope. It was a wonderful celebration. I have to say it was very well prepared and the music was wonderful.”
In spite of the rains, the Mass (lasting two hours) ended in a festive vibe with crowds doing the ‘Francis wave’ to the soundtrack of ooberfuse’s Mercy.
Cherrie, front-woman of the band, says : “Pope Francis’ visit to my home-town Tacloban on Saturday was a day of high spirits and high drama. Not only did the program have to be drastically altered in response to a Signal Number 2 typhoon, that deluged pilgrims in torrents of warm rain, but a plane carrying some of his entourage veered off the runway leaving passengers with minor injuries. In addition tragically a volunteer was struck by the sound-system scaffolding that collapsed in the strong winds. She later died in hospital. In spite of these things though, Haiyan storm survivors felt uplifted by the Holy Father’s message of hope. It was a personal blessing to me that Mercy was later used as the soundtrack to the festivities concluding the largest mass ever in Manila.”
Hal St John from the band adds: “It was quite surreal…being present throughout a fully-blown signal 2 typhoon during a mass to offer consolation to the survivors of Haiyan (a signal 3 typhoon). Perhaps the highlight of my sort stay in Tacloban though was visiting an impoverished settlement on the shore-line of the Pacific. One local pointed to a tall coconut tree and told me the wave reached the tree-top. When I asked him what he did when he saw it looming he said he literally ‘ran for the hills’ which rise up behind his house. The only reason his house survived, he explained, was because a huge ship (now beached 100 metros from his front-door) broke the full force of the unprecedented storm surge. ”
His Holiness Pope Francis brought his message of “Mercy and Compassion” to 11 different venues in the Archdioceses of Manila and Palo during his Apostolic Visit to the Philippines on January 15-19, 2015. In Leyte Province in Eastern Visayas, Pope Francis visited the Archdiocese of Palo. He offered Mass near Tacloban Airport in the morning of January 17.
Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013.It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,300 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. The cyclone caused catastrophic destruction in the Visayas, particularly on Samar and Leyte. According to UN officials, about 11 million people have been affected – many have been left homeless. As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.
Ooberfuse are an electronica band from Woolwich, London – Hal and Cherrie, joined with producer Roland Faber. The band has played as a warm up act to the Pope in front of a live audience of 2 million, performed in the House of Lords. They have received support from many influential quarters including BBC Introducing’s Tom Robinson, Ministry of Sound’s Sister Bliss, Paul Oakenfold and others. [www.ooberfuse.com]