My Papal Visit 2015 Experience

As I started typing this, my hands still feel numb after being soaked in rain for almost 10 hours.

Yesterday, I am more than blessed and grateful and became a part of the history.

Nung dumating si St. John Paul II na dating Santo Papa sa Pilipinas noong 1995, which happened to be also the World Youth Day, wala pa kong kamuang-muang. I was only 6 years old then and the only thing that mattered to me was playing with other kids on the street. When the Vatican announced through CBCP that Pope Francis will be visiting the Philippines in January 2015, I promised to try my best to see him and attend a Mass he will preside. Everyone was VERY excited, including myself. 🙂

2 days before Christmas, Malacañang declared January 15,16 and 19 as special nonworking holidays. Yeeeey! Not because there’s no work (well, syempre onti, hehe) but because I could watch his Mass and delivered speeches on TV.ü

The Pope arrived as scheduled on Thursday at around 5:45PM. I was watching it on TV online with my dad at our sala.

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The crowd started to cheer when they saw the SriLankan Airlines plane arrived.

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Kudos to this cameraman who captured this shot while the Pope was still inside the plane. Kung gusto, may paraan!

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Finally! The Pope was here! He was welcomed with a breeze of air which carried his skull cap. But still gave his sweet smile and wave.Ü

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He looked so happy and excited as he boarded his D-Max popemobile. Even more when he was welcomed by thousands of people along his way to the Apostolic Nunciature.

Here’s a closer look at the D-Max popemobile.

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Trivia: Pope Francis ditched a bulletproof popemobile and preferred to have an open and simple one so he could easily greet the people. He explained that at his age, he doesn’t have much to lose.

I came home from Cavite last Saturday night to celebrate the feast of San Antonio Abad with my relatives at my mother’s hometown, Kaong, so I was still tired from the travel, but that didn’t stop me from going to Luneta the next day.

I woke up at 7:30am and fixed my stuff. I had to bring a shoulder bag where I could put my phone, crackers, chocolates and water. I left the house on comfortable clothes: shirt I got from my sister-in-law as a Christmas gift, black denim, rubber shoes and clear raincoat. Oo, parte ng #ootd ko yun. Hehehe 😀

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I went to Santolan station and expected the long queues to the ticket counters. As I was waiting for my turn, I saw this man hugging Sto. Niño near the gate. He was just one of the people who brought Sto. Niño with them, surely to attend the Mass in Luneta by Pope Francis. Yesterday was also the feast of Sto. Niño.

A lot of people─kids, teens, middle-aged, elderly─wearing Papal Visit 2015 shirts boarded the train. A group of teens (probably from a parish youth ministry) was talking about how lovely Pope Francis looks when he smiles and how excited they were to see him. (Hindi ako nakikinig, maingay lang talaga sila. Hahaha!)

I even saw my dad after passing the Legarda station whom I didn’t notice was just beside me from Pureza station. Haha. He left as early as 6AM to see the Pope. We separated ways when we reached the Recto station. We have different lives, you know. Hahahaha!

After long walks from LRT2’s Recto station to LRT1’s Doroteo Jose station, pinigil pa ng guards yung mga tao kasi wala raw kaming mga ticket pa. Eh syempre, bibili pa nga lang kami kaya kami pupunta dun! So they had no choice but to let us in. Isang daan kami, dalawa lang sila.

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The train had to stop at Central Ave station and waited for like 5-10 minutes before we moved station dahil daw sa sobrang dami ng taong bumababa sa UN Ave Station (the nearest station in Luneta). Wala ngang joke, sobrang dami nga. The guards had to manually get the cards para mas mapabilis.

The last time I went to Luneta was for the Million People March a year and a half ago. Akala ko nun, yun na yung “maraming tao”. Walang sinabi yun sa nakita ko kahapon. Grabe, it was not a sea, but an ocean of crowds. I attempted to enter the gates of Luneta Park but backed out and decided to stay along Kalaw St instead. Since it was only around 10:30AM, I had an early quick lunch at Siomai House just beside the stairs of the UN Ave Station. Standing ovation, with my raincoat on, no complain. 😉

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There was a big screen in Kalaw St cor Taft Ave live-feeding the happenings in UST at that time so I watched first since it was still early. I was with many people watching him. When he left UST, people started to move and find a place to stay where they could see him. Good thing I had a screenshot of the popemobile’s route. I stayed in Kalaw cor Maria Orosa St. where ABS-CBN’s Doris Bigornia and her team were stationed.

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I stood there under the light rains for more than 2 hours. Siksikan. Walang pagkakataong makasingit. Kids and adults wore their raincoats but some had their umbrellas kaya maraming sumisigaw sa kanila ng “Payong! Payong!” lalo na when the popemobile was approaching. The gates were closed going inside the Luneta Park.

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While waiting, I heard a kid, carried by his mom, beside me saying to his dad, “Halika na, Tay. Nakakapagod naman.” I smiled when his dad said, “Nak, kaya nga tayo andito para magsakripisyo na makita si Pope at makapagsimba. Minsan lang yan.” I never expected he’d tell that to his son.ü

Around 2:15PM, the crown started bringing up their it-was-not-waterproof-until-yesterday phones, tablets and cameras as the jeepney popemobile carrying the Pope passed by Kalaw cor Maria Orosa St. It was a bit fast and he wasn’t looking on our side but I could still feel high… Yun pala yung feeling. Akala ko sinasabi lang ng mga tao yun pero pag ikaw na pala yung andun, iba pala talaga. What more when he was looking and smiling at us. Nakakakaba na nakakaiyak na nakakatuwa na parang yung spirit ni Jesus sumaboy sa bawat isa. I am not exaggerating. That was really the feeling… the feeling I never want to forget. :’)

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A screenshot from my video on his way to the Quirino Grandstand yesterday.

Pagkadaan nya, I looked for a place to stay with a big screen where I could better see him. He went around Luneta Park before he headed to the Quirino Grandstand to preside the Mass.

The Holy Mass started at around 3:00PM. First, I thought it was in Latin as announced before; glad it was delivered in English. Everyone who did not have the chance to get in gathered around the big screens found along Kalaw St. People did the Sign of the Cross altogether. Approximately 6-7 million people─mayaman, mahirap, bagets, jejemon, rocker, FilAm, emo, street vendor, naka-iPhone 6, naka-high heels, naka-raincoat, hindi naka-raincoat, conyo, may kasamang bata, matatanda, mukhang maton─attentively listened to every word he says. We were not wearing our best looks─walang makeup, basang-basa sa ulan, gulo-gulo ang buhok, marumi ang sapatos, putik-putik, hindi kita kung maganda ang damit, pagod, namumutla sa lamig, gutom─but we were there altogether, under the rain, celebrating this day, listening to his heart-touching homily and weeping as we sang the Ama Namin. I have never seen a situation like that ever in my life. :’)

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I’d like to share this part of his homily that really moved me:

“Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else.” He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: [to] forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.” ─ Pope Francis

He ended his homily with “Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless you!” People smiled and clapped and looked at him as if they wanted to hug him from the screen. 😀

Before the Mass ended, Dagupan Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas delivered a message for Pope Francis saying that his love for the Filipino people is typhoon-proof. Manila Archibishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle also sent a message saying thanks to him in 3 languages (Spanish, English and Tagalog) and a promise that the Filipinos will pray for him.

Two decades after Pope Saint John Paul II concluded the 1995 World Youth Day with a mass, millions once again gathered at Rizal Park in Manila and sang in unison “Tell The World of His Love,” this time in the presence of Pope Francis,

I stayed in front of the big screen and only went home when he reached the Apostolic Nunciature. 🙂

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From the bridge near Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church

I walked from Kalaw St to LRT2 Recto. When I was already on the platform waiting for the train, the LRT2 personnel announced that the operations were already halted and that the cards can be used within 5 days. I had to walk again up to Morayta where I luckily got a jeepney ride to Anonas. Nakasabay ko pa yung mga taga-OLA Youth, and this old woman. “Nakakapagod talaga. Pero buti na lang nakita ko si Pope at nakapagsimba.” When I heard people saying something like this, I feel so glad it was the “Pope Francis Effect” I wish to be planted in everyone’s hearts forever.

PJ and his family, who was already in Marikina, picked me up in Anonas so they could bring me home safely.ü Thank you po.ü

Today, Pope Francis ends his 5-day state visit and already on his 14-hour flight to Rome. May the Good Lord guide the pilots of the “Shepherd One” and bring him safely to Rome.

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The Pope gave his last wave before he boarded the plane.

My family and I were supposed to be in Davao today until the 21st but for security reasons, all flights to and from Manila within 5 hours of his departure were cancelled. So we decided to just cancel it as well. I don’t have hard feelings about this. It’s for the Pope, you know. 😀

I didn’t have the chance to personally thank him but I hope, though impossible, he can read my simple letter for him:

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you very much for considering visiting the Philippines. Thank you for touching our hearts. Thank you for healing our emotional and spiritual wounds. Thank you for all the messages you shared that strengthen our faith in God. Thank you for inspiring us to be a good Christian. Thank you for reminding us and making us feel that God loves us and is with us no matter what. Thank you for showing us your contagious smiles despite tiredness and uncooperative weather; it makes me realize to always smile to make things lighter. Thank you for leaving us the feeling that you will always be with us in praying to God for strength and guidance. I hope you visit us again soon. I will always pray for you.

I love you so much!

Love,

Angela

Thank You Lord for sending the Pope to us. I will never forget these days. :’)

I compiled all the transcripts of the speeches and homilies delivered during his visit:

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