The six day visit by Pope John Paul II has left an unusual feeling of euphoria in this divided country, but there is a great deal of skepticism about any lasting effects of the pontiff's strong human rights declarations on the authoritarian Philippine government and wealthy landowners.
Clerics on both the right an left in this predominantly Roman Catholic country say the pope's ringing speeches in support of greater human dignity and his call for a share of the land for the landless have given confidence to the social action workers of the left.
But the largely conservative hierarchy and political leaders who have commented on John Paul's visit last week have given no indication that they expect it to result in significant changes in Philippine society or in the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Deputy Defense Minister Carmelo Barbero, referring to John Paul's declaration in Marcos' presence that human rights should never be subjugated to state security needs, said, "I must respectfully say that there can be no form of any rights if the state is an anarchy. There has to be order before there can be any human rights."
Cardinal Jaime Sin, the highest ranking church figure in the Philippines, has taken a low-key attitude since the pope's departure, remarking in an interview that he thought John Paul's visit confirmed what the church had been doing already in acting as a conscience on social justice matters.
"The pope gave us ideas on how to sustain" this activity, he said.
Bishop Mariano Gaviola, the military chaplain and one of the country's many conservative bishops, struck an equally cautious note, saying, "We'll see how we could implement the holy father's messages."
Cheering millions met John Paul as he hopped by jet the length of the archipelago in what church leaders saw as proof of the vitality of Roman Catholicism in this country of 48 million. But only when passions level, they say, can the impact of his presence on matters such as human rights, social justice and poverty be assessed.
Two small incidents, however, have given the church encouragement. In Bacolod, in the central Philappines, where the pope addressed impoverished sugar workers, he embraced progressive Bishop Antonio Fortich in the same symbolic way he greeted Dom Helder Camara, Brazil's reformist bishop.
When the pontiff visited Tondo, a slum in Manila, 20 police officers invited slum leader Trinidad Herrera to lunch. Herrera, who was tortured and then released from jail in 1976 after the U.S. State Department intervened, and four colleagues were sent home after a sumptuous meal -- well after the pope had left Tondo. To her supporters, this indicated that at least while the pope was throwing in his lot with the church's social action activities for the poor, the government would treat dissidents gently.
The activist clergy believes that any long-term benefits to be derived from the papal trip will depend on a lot of ifs.
"Something good can come out of it, if we follow it up and implement the pope's messages," said a Jesuit, the Rev. Benigno Mayo, of the so-called Christian Left of the Philippine church.
A reason for the reservation is the minority Christian Left's disagreement with Cardinal Sin's policies. They feel that Sin, chairman of the Philippine bishops' conference, has collaborated with the government more than he has criticized its policies.
Sin's precarious attempts to keep a dialogue open with the authoritarian government during the years of one-man rule have disenchanted some members of his clergy. At least seven priests have defected to the communist New People's Army in the northern Philippines and on the island of Samar.
Even the archbishop of Manila hedged on whether the pope's words will encourage more militancy among the clergy.
"We mind our relations with God," he said in an interview. "The government is only an instrument, our relations with God are more important. Government is ephemeral."
"I am afraid things will revert back to normal after a while," said Dennis Murphy, who heads the human development unit of the Asian bishops' conference.
Barbero, the deputy defense minister, who presides over the church-military liaison committee that handles prickly issues of military abuses, said both sides could never agree on some issues.
But state security and human rights, he added, could coexist and the success of the papal visit was an indication that church-state relations could work when both sides tried hard enough.
Relations with the church as an institution, the minister insisted, had been smooth, but there were problems with a few individuals in the church.
He was obviously referring to the dissident priests and nuns who demand an overhaul of the whole feudal social system rather than seek conciliation. The pope delighted the activist clergy in Bacolod, where he urged the poor workers to organize.
In his toughest speech of the tour, the pontiff declared, "It is inadmissible that people who work the land must continue to live in a situation that offers them no hope for a better future."
His speech upset the sugar planters in Negros, and the fear is that the pope might have heightened tension rather than cooling it in the volatile island that Bishop Fortich once described as "a social volcano ready to explode."
In a surprisingly frank assessment, however, a member of the National Assembly, Helen Benitez of the ruling New Society Movement, said the pontiff had affected both the government and the church and added that she was confident that Marcos will carry out his promise to the pope to remove the irritants between church and state.
The ultimate outcome, she said, will depend on what the church will do and how Marcos will respond.