On July 2014, the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. A few days later, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle revealed that the Holy Father will visit Manila and Tacloban from 15 to 19 January 2015. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has since encouraged the Filipinos to prepare for his coming with the theme, “Mercy and Compassion“.
Mom and I have glued our eyes on TV for the special coverage of the Papal visit since morning of 15 January. The atmosphere was thick in anticipation as the entire Philippines waited for the arrival of Pope Francis in the country. At exactly 5:32PM, the Papal plane landed at the Villamor Air Base, and the Pope was welcomed by a sea of people who had been there since early morning.
Let me tell you this: I didn’t expect to feel so emotional when I caught a glimpse of Pope Francis from the plane window right before he alighted. By the time he stepped out of the plane, I was already crying. I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for everyone who were there to personally meet him.
Allow me to share some of my favorite quotes from Pope Francis’ homilies and speeches via Rappler.com:
My family and I decided to go to Luneta Park last Sunday for Pope Francis’ concluding mass. The mass won’t start until three in the afternoon, but we were there as early as 5:30AM. You’ll be surprised that a lot of people had camped out since Saturday night just to ensure a good enough spot in the Luneta grounds. It took us an hour or so to get in the vicinity, only to find out that we’re miles and miles away from where the Pope will be.
Realizing that we couldn’t go beyond the gates leading further into the grandstand, we settled to where we were and propped ourselves onto the ground. Only two hours into the waiting game, it drizzled. By noon time, we were soaking wet. We didn’t bring any umbrella or raincoat; my family only relied on makeshift cover-ups, and I, on my hoodie jacket.
By 1:30PM, although we’re only a few hours away from seeing Pope Francis, Mom and Dad decided to leave. It’s been a long day for all of us; that if we don’t leave already, we’ll end up with a flu. We threaded the same route on our way back, settled on our decision to go home, only to be surprised by Pope Francis himself.
When we reached the corner we’re supposed to cross to get to the other side, the crowd started screaming and chanting Pope Francis’ name. Little did we know that his motorcade will pass by the exact spot we found ourselves trapped in! Talk about a blessing in disguise! GOD IS AMAZING. That 3-second glimpse of Pope Francis was worth all the misadventures we had that day.
Today, I am grateful for Pope Francis. I thank him for his mercy and compassion towards the poor and the simple. He is the living proof of God’s benevolence. Pope Francis is God’s shepherd whom He has bestowed to tend his sheep. Because of him, we’re united by faith. I will continue to reflect on the words of Pope Francis from his 5-day visit to the Philippines because there’s so much to be grateful for in this world and I want to be worthy of God’s love, mercy, and compassion.