It was the night before Pope Francis will arrive in the Philippines. It would be his first visit to the country. This visit is special since he’ll be going to the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban and lift the spirits up of the people there. The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic so it is not surprising that a lot of people are excited to catch a glimpse (and maybe have a selfie too) of the head of the Church. I was contemplating whether to attend or not so I just posted a status on Facebook asking if some of my friends would be interested to go to Baclaran and welcome the Pope, and if someone would join me, I’ll give it a go.
My photographer friend, Ohsie, responded that she’d love to see the Pope too so we set a meeting place and time. We haven’t seen each other for a while so this is also the perfect time to hang-out again.
I’m riding a jeepney on my way to Baclaran when my phone suddenly rings, displaying a cellphone number I don’t recognize. Cautiously, I answered it. It’s my college friend, Borge. Apparently, he read my Facebook post and he’s already at the meeting place, Max’s restaurant, looking for me. It’s amazing how social media works.
The published route of Pope Francis includes the Roxas Boulevard which is just in front of Max’s restaurant. We stuffed ourselves with their famous dish Max’s fried chicken and buko pandan dessert so that we would have enough energy for the long wait later.
The Waiting Begins
And what a long wait it is! Thankfully, I’m with friends that I haven’t seen for a while so it’s great to catch up on each other’s lives while killing time.
We’ve also made new friends too with people who are seating next to us. What else are you gonna do, right?
Some of the people in the crowd can access tv signals on their phone so we get updated from news channels about the status of Pope Francis’ arrival.
The Pope’s plane landed on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 5pm. The crowd became so excited upon hearing the news. The policemen took on their assigned positions while the cameramen made some last minute adjustment to get that perfect shot. But 6pm came, then 6:30pm passed, there’s still no sign of the Pope. We learned from the news that Pope Francis has to attend first to the welcoming rites prepared for him and that the roads around the airport were completely filled with people, as well. The police were having a hard time controlling the crowd.
Finally, a few minutes after 7pm, we saw police escorts rushing in one by one and then we saw Pope Francis on his Pope mobile. The crowd went wild! Everyone started raising their hands, cheering and welcoming Pope Francis.
We caught a glimpse of him for just a few seconds since the pope mobile is traveling really fast. But that few seconds is enough to inspire and bring hope to this country.
What Motivated Me
When Pope John Paul II came to the Philippines for the World Youth Day in 1995, I was just 11 years old then and wasn’t able to see him, although me and my mom had already positioned ourselves on the side of the road that the pope mobile would pass. What happened next was, the crowd got so thick in Rizal Park during that time, that’s why they decided to just transport Pope John Paul II using a helicopter to the Quirino Grandstand. Imagine our dismay upon seeing that the Pope is already on stage and we didn’t get a chance to catch a glimpse of him.
Seeing the Pope is one of my childhood dream that I was able to fulfill now as an adult which makes the 7 hours of waiting wasn’t so bad considering I’ve waited years to have this opportunity. Haha Cheers!