By Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 10, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — It was my first time, after over 15 years of covering pet blessings, to bring a cat to the event. Being a professed dog-lover for almost 50 years is no secret. And, although I have rescued and taken in over 20 stray cats in the village where I live, this is the first year that I have actually taken a cat to the blessing.

How could I refuse? Mr. Gizmo, my four-month-old, exotic long-haired cat purred his way to making me bring him along to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) 22nd Pet Blessing at SM North EDSA Skydome last Oct. 1. There were so many humans with their pets this year. The count of humans reached 1,146, with perhaps 800 pet companions at the event, which commemorates the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.

PAWS began its pet blessing event with a procession of the animals and their humans, led by Fr. Joey Paras SBD, around the SM Skydome. After the procession, a Mass and then the blessing of the pets followed.

The pet blessing, which was organized by PAWS and Pet Express, had as special guests the MMDA K9 Corps. The MMDA K9s are dogs trained specifically to search for and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster. As the Philippines prepares for The Big One (the possibility of a major earthquake), the president of MMDA K9 Corps, Cris Palcis, gave some tips and reminders on how to keep safe in the event of an earthquake.

PAWS always has a program before the Mass. This year was no different.

Si Ponggi nasagasaan ’yan malapit sa villagenamin. Buto’t balat sya at kahit grabe na ang injuries niya at umiiyak sa gitna ng daan, walang tumutulong. Hindi siya pinapansin,” shared ASAP mainstay and aspin-lover Jona, as she serenaded the now healthy and completely rehabilitated Ponggi, along with her two other rescued dogs. 

Aside from Jona, other showbiz personalities like Jak Roberto, Sanya Lopez, Barbie Forteza, Taki Saito, Kim Last and Jon Timmons brought their dogs to be blessed.

Mr. Gizmo (inside his pet carrier) and I were awed by the many humans and pets at the event.
Covering the pet blessing event never gets old. Every year, these past 15 years, has been an experience for me. It warms the heart that there are truly so many pet lovers who consider their canine and feline companions not just pets, but as kids, who need to be blessed.

And, yes, Mr. Gizmo got his blessing of holy water, too.

The Pet Blessing was made possible through the generous support of Pet One, NexGard Spectra, Blisk, Ganador, Wagtales, Dogs & More, Ezydog, Whole Pet Kitchen, Bioessence, Jollibee, Devant, Mary Grace, Swell Sweets Cake Lab, and STAR Pet Life Section.