With the conclave date set on March 12, Tuesday, many Filipinos have turned to prayers that the 114 other cardinal electors in the Vatican City would write the name of Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on their ballot.
While Cardinal Tagle is not an early favourite based on bets received by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, the Thursday release by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests of three church officials the group favours to be the successor of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI boosted his chances as a papabile.
The British newspaper, Daily Mail, tagged him as the rock star of the cardinals, most of whom are in their late 60s and 70s. At 55, Cardinal Tagle is the second youngest among the 115 cardinal electors. He was made cardinal in 2012.
Being born in 1957 makes Cardinal Tagle a member of the Baby Boomers generation, which explains why he keeps up with the times, technology-wise, that is.
He has a Facebook account which has more than 125,000 likes which makes him the most popular cardinal among netizens and accounts for half of the social media use by church cardinals. He also owns the Twitter account with the handle @AntonioTagle. He used both social media accounts to reach out to about 85 million Filipino Catholics.
Besides social media, the cardinal is also into mainstream media, hosting a two television shows, The Word Exposed and Kape't Pandesal, that delve with matters of faith.
Outside the Philippines, the Islam-owned Aljazeera News, reported that Cardinal Tagle is the Internet favourite to be the next pope. The report included an MTV made by fans of the cardinal set to the tune of the disco hit YMCA.
Vatican experts admit that despite Cardinal Tagle being considered a dark horse as some cardinals may have second thoughts about electing a very young cardinal who could reign for 30 years, the cardinals could surprise the Catholic world with their choice as they did in 1979 when they elected Polish Cardinal Carole Wojtyla who became the very popular Pope John Paul II and ruled Vatican for 26 years.
"There are people, even Vatican officials here, who have whispered to me, 'Tagle, he's the man,'" the Associated Press quoted John Thavos, author of The Vatican Diaries.
"He's an effective communicator and missionary at a time when Catholicism's highest internal priority is a new evangelisation," National Catholic Reports John Allen wrote.
"Tagle incarnates the dramatic growth of Catholics outside the West, putting a face on the dynamic and relatively angst-free form of Catholicism percolating in the Southern Hemisphere . . . He would certainly be a symbol of the church in the emerging world, but given his intellectual and personal qualities, hardly a hollow one."
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, however, is wary of the cardinal's chances of becoming the next pope.
His effective communication skills had been cited by followers as one of Cardinal Tagle's strongest points, particularly delivering homilies which are far from boring.
Twitterlandia was abuzz with talks of Cardinal Tagle's rising stock. This tweet by @PatrickStrother summed up the sentiments of many Catholics expecting for major changes in Vatican City: "Philippine Cardinal Tagle's rising star has opened a previously unimaginable possibility. An Asian pope."
And this tweet by @mayocesar could have been titled A Tale of 3 Popes if the cardinals would pick the young Filipino cardinal as the next pontiff.