27 January 2015

My Pope Francis Experience (Papal Visit 2015)

It has been 20 years since our beloved country, the Philippines, was visited by a pope. It was 1995 when Pope John Paul II visited and I was still in 6th grade back then. I remember memorizing the official World Youth Day hymn which was "Tell The World of His Love" and practicing the hand movements were something that I looked forward every day. It was not hard to memorize.

Present year, our pope of almost two years, Pope Francis, visited our country for the first time and a lot of people were very excited for this big event. The first time I heard about this, it was just alright, but as the day nears, I got very excited every day.

On January 18, this was the day that we decided to go to the University of Santo Tomas and try to catch a glimpse of him.

Here is our story on that memorable day:
Walking from Welcome Rotonda to UST.
This was around 7:15am. The weather was just right and we were feeling optimistic that we would get to see him. But a lot of people have already lined up around the area so that feeling of dread that we would not be able to accomplish our mission was felt. 
The bright dog.
His owner/trainor asked this doggie if he loved Pope Francis and this adorable dog would bark twice. People approved and gave a round of applause every time he would do this.
We were informed that Pope Francis will pass by Lacson Street and we hoped to get a nice place there but we were so wrong. This is the nearest that we came to doing our goal. We stood in this place almost 2 hours and a half. When he finally passed by, we got hold of the word that he was not in his popemobile and that this vehicle passed by very fast. WE FAILED!
A video of the crowd waiting for the man of the hour. 
Even if the crowd was thick and we were literally rubbing some body parts with the crowd, everyone was wearing their happy caps and that emanated all throughout the place. A few misses but those were just minor. We also heard people calling for medics because some fainted. 
This was taken along Lacson Street, near the bus terminal. People were flocked alongside the streets so we got excited and and felt hope rising again. We still have a chance! So we waited for more than an hour. I was wet already because I did not bring an umbrella nor a raincoat, I just had with me my thin shawl that barely protected me. 
He's coming! "Ayan na. ayan na sya!"
And the moment that I dreamed about finally happened. I saw him in the flesh! Wow! The feeling was so overwhelming. I was so touched by the experience and can't help but shed a few tears before going back to see my boyfriend and friend. Before this happened, we ended up standing in different strategic positions so all three of us got different angles and videos.

The full video that we had. My priceless video. 

After that, we still wanted to do more so we decided to go to Quirino Grandstand to be one with our fellow Catholics and other people who wanted to be part of this momentous experience.
On our way there, we made a stop over at the San Sebastian Church on our way to SM Manila to have lunch. We took advantage of its clean restroom as well. 
After having lunch, it was steadily raining already and having an umbrella (we bought one at 7-11 after the second attempt)  is not enough so we tried looking for raincoats, but alas, no more! We came inside National Bookstore and there was only Barbie raincoats for kids available. But we saw some people lining up inside the store and we got curious and we saw that they were selling plastic wrapper and making them into a makeshift raincoats. Galing ng Pinoy! So we ordered.
Kudos to the ladies of National Bookstore for making our coats. After all, they could have just sold us the plastic covers and left us to figure out a way to do it but they did not, they custom-made it for us. Not only did they sell, they also contributed their talent by doing something special to the people who want to see the pope. *clap clap*
So we walked going to the grandstand but unfortunately, we could not go any further because the roads were congested already. Best effort we could do was somewhere near the back of the National Museum. There was a video wall set-up so we can see and hear the mass. But it was so noisy that we were not really able to do that.

Going back home was a challenge because of the massive number of people who took the public transpo. So we headed back to SM Manila and had coffee, hoping that the crowd had waned out but that was the exact opposite. So we just decided to be brave about it and faced the music. See!
Extra challenging but at least we all got to go home. Tired but very happy and fulfilled.
That day, I really counted my blessings even as small as they seem. I recall:
1. Not having difficulty getting a trike to take me to the van terminal at 530am.
2. The van started the trip even if it was not full yet (I remember still lacking 4 passengers)
3. I arrived on-time at our meeting place which was 6:30am
4. Getting a cab going to Welcome Rotonda was a breeze
5. The weather that morning was not hot
6. We saw Pope Francis
7. We got to use the clean restroom at the San Sebastian Church, no lining up needed (the lines at SM were such a blockbuster, haha!)
8. The National Bookstore and their salesladies provided us with "raincoats" for only Php30/pc

This was truly memorable. I was so happy to be given the chance to see Pope Francis. Who knows when a pope would next visit our country. He gave us hope and charmed us with his charisma and unli-smile, as they say. Thank you for leading your 1.2 billion Catholic members. It's not easy but we feel that you really are trying your best to do a great job. And you are.

Mercy and compassion!

Viva Il Papa! Long live Pope Francis! 


  1. Wow you saw him in person! I really wanted to go but I was sick that time :(

  2. You are so lucky that you were able to see a glimpse of him in person. I really wanted to but circumstances doesn't permit.

  3. What an amazing experience!:) I wish I had the time to do this. I'm sure it must have been great!

  4. The experience must have been surreal! Knowing that he's in town and seeing him on TV is already a great experience, all the more pa that you saw him in person. :)

  5. I have to say that I admire your perseverance. Braving the rains & the throngs of people? Just wow. It's a good thing that it paid off, yeah? One for the books! :)

  6. Haha! I see Jo!!! :))) Buti pa kayo ni Jo, you saw Pope na.. I wasn't here kase during this time. Sayaaang. #inggitmuch :(


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