News Releases – Pope Francis Papal Visit 2015 Philippines (January 15-19, 2015)
|Pope Francis meets ‘Yolanda’ survivors|
|(TACLOBAN, Leyte) His Holiness Pope Francis on Saturday was finally able to meet with some of the survivors of the catastrophic Typhoon Yolanda in this Visayan province.
The pontiff met with the calamity survivors of the nearby town Palo at the Gonzagahaus, the Residence of the Archbishop of Palo, shortly after holding mass in Leyte’s capital.
Like the scene in Metro Manila, Pope Francis was greeted by throngs of Catholic faithful on his way to Palo, notwithstanding the inclement weather being experienced by the province that time.
It was a brief yet sweet encounter between Pope Francis and the people of Palo as the pontiff had to move quick with his engagements in Leyte so as to avoid any delay on his flight back to Manila.
Before departing Leyte for Manila, Pope Francis passed by the shelter facility for the poor that was built in his honor and blessed it from his pope mobile. He also met with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and families of ‘Yolanda’ survivors at the Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration also in Palo.
In his homily during a mass held earlier at the Tacloban Airport, Pope Francis told the people of Leyte to keep holding on to their faith in Jesus Christ and Mother Mary as they continue to move forward from the tragedy of Typhoon Yolanda.
The pontiff reminded them of the sacrifices rendered by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross for the salvation of mankind.
“So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families, all I can do is keep silence, and I walk with you all with my silent heart,” Pope Francis said.
The towns of Tacloban and Palo in Leyte registered the most number of casualties in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda among all the areas affected by the Category 5 storm when it hit the country in November 2013.
Pope Francis said he might not have the answers to the questions that immediately sprang in the minds of those who lost their loved ones owing to the tragedy but the Lord understands them.
“Many of you have asked the Lord: “Why, Lord?” And to each of you, your heart, Christ responded from his heart upon the cross. I have no more words to tell you. Let us leave it to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, or you, have experienced,” he said.
Pope Francis added that people could also trust in the guidance of Mother Mary in times of despair.
“In moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say, “Mom,” as a child does with her mother when he or she feels fear,” he said.
“Let us know that we have our Mother Mary and our senior brother, our great brother, Jesus. We are not alone. We also have many brothers who, in his moment of catastrophe, came to help you and we, too, because of this, we feel more brothers and sisters because we helped each other.” PND (hdc)
|Cabinet officials in Tacloban plane mishap are all safe, says Palace|
|Cabinet members who figured in a plane mishap Saturday are all safe and their families and the public should not worry about them, a Palace statement said on Saturday.
In a statement, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said strong winds forced a plane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista and Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio, Jr., eight other staff members and three crew members to overshoot the runway at Tacloban Airport.
“All 15 passengers and crew members are all safe and suffered no injuries. The families of those on board have also been assured that their loved ones are safe,” Lacierda said.
The officials were in Tacloban to ensure safe and orderly conduct of activities of Pope Francis who visited Tacloban and Palo, Leyte, on Saturday.
Lacierda added that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has already informed President Aquino about the incident.
“The President was happy to hear that all on board were safe and directed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to investigate whether the proximate cause of the incident was weather-related or otherwise,” he noted.
Pope Francis, who is in the third day of his visit in the Philippines, had to rush back to Manila earlier than expected because of the bad weather.
On Sunday, the pope will lead a massive mass at the Quirino Grandstand, which authorities said could surpass a 1995 record in terms of the number of attendees.
The pope is in a weeklong Asia tour visiting Sri Lanka and the Philippines. He will return to the Vatican on Monday morning. PND (as)
|Palace continues to appeal for Pope Francis’ safety as the pontiff wraps up pastoral visit|
|The government always remain busy to make Pope Francis’ stay in the country safe as the pontiff continues his events especially the huge mass at the Quirino Grandstand tomorrow, Sunday, a Malacanang official said.
“Para doon sa mga kababayan natin na naghahanda para bukas sa pagdalo sa misa sa Quirino Grandstand at doon sa mga kalapit na kalye, puspusan na po at talagang lahat na po ng paghahanda ay ginagawa ho ng ating pamahalaan para masigurado po ‘yung ating kaligtasan at ‘yung kapayapaan po sa misa,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.
Valte made the appeal over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan to those participating in the event to prepare themselves, both mental and physical, to ensure their own safety as a large throng of people is expected to converge at the Quirino Grandstand for the mass on Sunday.
She noted for the people to always follow the instructions of the authorities appealing to them not to block the Maria Orosa Street, the entrance to the venue.
“Bawal ang mga payong. Ang pakiusap po natin ay mga kapote na lang po muna, mga transparent bags po ang ating gamitin to facilitate entry into the grounds, at marami pa pong mga paalala mula sa Philippine National Police,” she said.
“We continue to hope for everyone’s cooperation and we have seen what our self-discipline can do in the past two days, Valte noted. “Sana ay maipagpatuloy natin ito at ang ating talagang napakainit na pagtanggap para sa ating Santo Papa.”
Pope Francis is meeting young people at the University of Sto. Tomas tomorrow morning before celebrating a large mass in the afternoon. President Aquino, whose mother is a devout Catholic, is expected to attend the gathering.
Authorities expect the number attendees for the Sunday’s mass to surpass a 1995 record when Pope John Paul II led the World Youth Day. Around five million people participated in the event.
Organizers want to contain the people inside grids at the venue, to make the crowd more controllable. They also deployed portalets, policemen and paramedics to tend to any emergencies and maintain order.
The visiting pontiff, who arrived in the Philippines on Thursday for a five-day visit, is now in his third day in the Philippines, leading events in Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte.
However, the pope rushed to Manila earlier than expected because of a weather disturbance that will affect Borongan, Eastern Samar, late Saturday.
Pope Francis is in a weeklong tour in Asia, visiting Sri Lanka then the Philippines. He will return to the Vatican Monday morning. PND (as)
|Pope Francis tells families to dream, be wary of ‘new ideological colonization’|
|Pope Francis told families he met at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday evening to continue to dream, as it is not possible to have a family without such dreams.
“I like this idea of dreaming in a family. Every father and mother dream of their sons or daughters in the womb during nine months. Is this true or not? To dream of how your daughter or son will be? It is not possible to have a family without such a dream.
“When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love, this energy to love is lost. I recommend that at night, when you examine your conscience, ask yourself if you dreamed of the future of your sons and daughters. Did I dream about the love of my husband or wife? My parents?
“It is so important to dream and to dream in the family. Please don’t lose this ability to dream in this way,” the pontiff said in his message to the thousands of people who packed the venue for the pope’s meeting with families.
The Pontiff arrived at the arena at 5:13 p.m., going around the area in his Popemobile to greet the well-wishers who came, even stopping to kiss a baby girl from the crowd.
Pope Francis received a warm welcome from the 15,000 people waiting for him inside the arena.
The program started with welcome remarks from Atty. King Rodrigo, whose family was selected to represent the Filipino families.
The 100-year-old Mrs. Remedios Enriquez-Rodrigo, wife of the late senator Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo and the family matriarch, gave Pope Francis a garland made of sampaguita flowers.
Representatives of three families then gave testimonies regarding their lives. The first representative told of how they survive a life of poverty, the second told of their life with a parent working abroad, and the third represented families with physically disabled members.
In his message, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of rest, saying it is necessary for the health of minds and bodies but difficult to achieve due to the many demands of daily life.
“But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us,” he said, advising families to make time for prayer each day despite their busy schedules, as “without prayer, we will accomplish very little”.
The Pope further warned of dangers threatening families.
“We must be attentive to the new ideological colonization. Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It is not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization,” he said.
“Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past ‘No’ to the period of colonization, as families, we have to be very wise and strong to say ‘No’ to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family.”
The pressures on family life today are many, he said, noting that in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters.“The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles, which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality,” he said, adding that the family is also threatened by growing efforts of those who redefine the institution of marriage, by relativism, and by a lack of openness to life.
“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats,” he said.
“So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them!”
Pope Francis urged families to be living examples of love, forgiveness and care and to respect life, “proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death”.
Finally, he encouraged families to “go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need”.
“I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them,” he said.
Throughout his 31-minute talk, the Holy Father switched from English to Spanish, in which case his message was translated.
The program ended with Jamie Rivera singing to Pope Francis the official song for his visit, “We are All God’s Children”.
The Pope left the arena past 7 p.m. PND (ag)
|Pope Francis pushes through with scheduled visit to Leyte despite inclement weather|
|(TACLOBAN, Leyte) Pope Francis pushed through with his scheduled trip to this Visayan province, Saturday, braving strong winds and continuous rains in fulfillment of his mission to reach out to the poverty-stricken communities still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Pope Francis and his delegation arrived at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport just before 9:00 a.m. aboard a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from Manila.
Shortly after deplaning and shaking hands with government officials who welcomed him, Pope Francis immediately embarked on his popemobile to greet the thousands of people who patiently waited at the airport grounds just to be blessed by him.
Despite getting visibly soaked in the rain, the people did not manifest any sign of weariness. Instead, they were overwhelmed by joy at the mere sight of the pontiff, waving at them from his vehicle.
Leyte is currently under public storm warning signal no. 2 as tropical storm ‘Amang’ continues to head towards the eastern part of the Visayas region.
Pope Francis, however, refused to let bad weather impede on his official itinerary during his state and apostolic visit to the Philippines, which was, after all, stimulated by his intense personal desire to meet with the Typhoon Yolanda victims.
“When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here. And on those very days, I decided to come here. I’m here to be with you—a little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here,” Pope Francis told the crowd in his homily during the concelebrated mass he held near the airport.
The pontiff expressed his deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones and properties from the disaster and offered words of encouragement to help them move forward.
“Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down. We’re holding on to her mantle. And with the power that comes from Jesus’ love on the cross, let us move forward, always forward, and work together as brothers and sisters…” Pope Francis said.
The mass concluded with Palo Archbishop John F. Du speaking on behalf of the entire people of Leyte to extend their profound gratitude to His Holiness for gracing their province with his presence.
Pope Francis left Tacloban just before noon and headed straight to the nearby town of Palo where he will have a lunch with the poor and other survivors of calamities.
Thereafter, he will conduct a blessing at a shelter facility for the poor that was built in his honor, as well as meet with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and families of ‘Yolanda’ survivors at the Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, before heading back to Manila. PND (hdc)
|President Aquino presents Pope Francis with ‘Mary, Undoer of Knots’ wood sculpture, papal commemorative coins|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III presented Pope Francis with a wooden sculpture of ‘Mary, Undoer of Knots’ and papal commemorative coins during their meeting in Malacañang Palace on Friday.
Pope Francis, on a five-day state and apostolic visit to the country, paid President Aquino a courtesy visit in Malacañang. The pontiff received full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, during a welcome ceremony at the Palace grounds.
During their tête-â-tête, President Aquino gifted Pope Francis with a sculpture of Mary, Undoer of Knots, as the pontiff’s special devotion to “Mary, Undoer of Knots” is known to many across the world.
The Marian image was carved from a piece of wood from a century-old acacia tree, planted in Malacañan Palace, that fell during the onslaught of Typhoon Glenda in July last year.
“In this sculpture, in ‘Mary, Undoer of Knots,’ in His Holiness’ life, and in the story of the Filipino people, we see the beauty of faith and the strength of devotion amidst the suffering and challenges of life,” noted a Malacañang backgrounder.
Fred Baldemor, a renowned and multi-awarded sculptor from Paete, Laguna, carved the image of Our Lady over several months.
Baldemor’s work has been exhibited in more than 35 countries.
Apart from the sculpture, Pope Francis also received limited edition 50-peso and 500-peso commemorative coins issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to mark the papal visit.
Both coins are legal tender and are minted under a licensing agreement with the Vatican.
The 50-peso coin, made of nickel brass, will be sold for P100 while the 500-peso, made of Nordic gold with gold plating, will be sold for P1,000 to cover production, packaging and other costs.
As a matter of policy, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas commemorates significant events in the Philippines’ history through the minting of coins, medals or overprints on the country’s banknotes.
Papal commemorative coins were issued during the visits of Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. The central bank also released papal commemorative coins to mark the 1970 visit of Pope Paul VI. PND (co)
|Pope Francis receives warm welcome from 1,200 schoolchildren from Southern Metro Manila|
|Pope Francis received a warm welcome from 1,200 schoolchildren from different Catholic schools from the Diocese of Parañaque when he arrived at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Thursday afternoon.
The pontiff was welcomed by students dancing to three upbeat songs: “Piliin Mo ang Pilipinas,” sung by artist Angeline Quinto; “Kapayapaan” by the reggae band Tropical Depression; and “Sayaw ng Pagbati”, which is traditionally performed during Easter Sunday in Parañaque.
Parañaque Bishop Rev. Jesse Mercado said they want to convey a message through the presentation.
“Ang mensaheng kanyang (Pope Francis) pinapadala ay mensahe ng kapayapaan. And we are happy to welcome him as a Filipino people, which we will express through dance,” Bishop Mercado said.
“It is more than a welcome sa Papa. It is more of a grand welcome to Christ, whom the Pope represents,” he added.
The Diocese of Parañaque is composed of Catholics from Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa.
The Pope was welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, as well as Vice President Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan.
Representing the Church were Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma S.J., Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan, Prelate of Infanta Bernardino Cortez, Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, Vicar Apostolic of Jolo Angelito Lampon, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez, Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Secretary General Rev. Father Marvin Mejia. PND (ag)
|Pope Francis’ visit to have lasting impact on country’s consciousness, political landscape, Palace official says|
|Pope Francis could have a long-term impact on Filipinos and the country because he is such a hugely charismatic figure, a Palace official said.
When Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1995, he made a personal impact on many Filipinos, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.
A charismatic and popular figure like Pope Francis is a magnet that attracts millions, he said during a press conference at the Manila Hotel.
“The presence of a Pope in our country always brings on a spiritual renewal, a feeling of tremendous inspiration because it is not every day that we are visited by the Vicar of Christ, and especially coming at a time when we are dealing with many challenges and we have a Pope that is able to give us enlightenment and guidance on how to discern what appropriate responses we could make in light of these challenges,” Coloma said.
The pope’s visit will also have an impact on the country’s political landscape as the Philippines gears towards national elections next year, he said, adding that this is amplified with the papal visit’s theme of “mercy and compassion”.
“These are very basic, very deeply emotional concepts that could find resonance in the heart of every Filipino, very much in line with our caring and sharing culture,” he said.
The Filipinos, he noted, are able to sustain one another because of their extended family system that is simply a manifestation of a culture of caring and sharing.
Coloma said he thinks the visit will also provide a good opportunity for Filipinos, and especially the country’s leaders, to be more discerning, reflective and considerate of the values that are indicated by the concepts of mercy and compassion.
He said he sees that in the coming years, even in the country’s economic policy, the concepts of mercy and compassion will amplify on the present focus on inclusive growth, more than just attaining higher Gross Domestic Product figures.
“We are now more focused on establishing a more equitable and a more just society that would have definite implications on the political reforms that need to be looked at after this season of grace,” he said. PND (as)
|The Philippines has become more open and diversified, says Palace official|
|The country has become more open and diversified since 1995, when Pope John Paul II visited the country, a Palace official has said.
The Philippines remains the largest Christian country in Asia, although some Filipinos have moved to other segments of the religious sector, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press conference at the Manila Hotel on Thursday.
Secretary Coloma made the statement when asked to compare the country’s conditions today to conditions two decades ago. He was also asked to comment on the changing views of Filipinos on the Catholic faith.
For the past several years, Filipinos have become more hospitable to a broader range of views and options, he said, noting that several reforms have been implemented in the Philippines.
“We have also gone into reforms, such as the responsible parenthood and reproductive health bill. Perhaps, that is also something that is worth noting as a departure from the situation in 1995,” he said.
Another significant change is the increase in the country’s population, he said, emphasizing that in 1995, there were less than 68 million people, compared to 100 million Filipinos today.
A huge number of people is an asset to the country, he said, adding that the Philippines finds itself in a demographic sweet spot, where a big percentage of the population belongs to the youth, an economically productive sector.
“At the same time, this provides our country a very valuable resource for implementing our development programs,” he said.
“As these segments of the population prosper, we are also creating a healthier economy, a broader consumer mass base that could provide the propulsion for sustained growth.”
However, to attain progress, the government has to provide the people both physical infrastructure and intellectual capacity for them to become more productive, Coloma explained, noting that this is the focus of the administration.
The government’s socio-economic development programs would come into play to attain continuing growth, he said.
For instance, in the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget, the biggest allocation goes to socio-economic development and social protection, Coloma noted.
The focus of the administration, he said, is to fight poverty and the government has been carrying out a totally new paradigm in tackling the problem.
The conventional wisdom was that government could just focus on attaining macroeconomic targets like GDP growth, and hope that there will be a ripple effect that would lift the poor out of poverty, he said.
The administration has changed its approach, he pointed out, adding that now, there is a purposive and deliberate effort to take the fruits of economic development directly to the doorstep of Filipino families living in poverty.
This is being done through the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program that keeps children in school and ensures the well-being of pregnant women, he explained.
The Aquino government has already expanded the program to cover more poor Filipinos, Coloma said, adding that the program is in line with the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal and child mortality.
“This is anchored upon providing as many of our people the wherewithal to be included in the mainstream of economic growth under a new and purposive approach that was not there 20 years ago,” he said.
“So I think those are some of the essential differences that we may wish to look at.”
Pope Francis arrived in Manila on Thursday afternoon for a five-day visit to the Philippines. The head of the Roman Catholic Church will meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday morning before continuing his activities in Manila and Leyte this weekend. PND (as)
|All is set for Pope Francis’ arrival|
|Everything is ready for the arrival of Pope Francis at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Based on the advisory furnished to the media, Pope Francis is expected to touch down in Manila at 5:45 p.m. on board a Sri Lanka A340 aircraft.
Upon arrival, the pontiff will be welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, who will be accompanied by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
On the side of the Church, Luis Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, and Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Socrates Villegas led the members of the clergy that include Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma S.J., Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud, San Fernando La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan, Infanta Prelate Bernardino Cortez, Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, Vicar Apostolic of Jolo Angelito Lampon, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez, Most Reverend Jesse Mercado, and Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Marvin Mejia.
The government prepared two scenarios depending on the weather. Should there be inclement weather, 1,000 chosen students will be positioned inside Hangar 1 while some 200 people, including the VIPs, will be positioned at Hangar 2. Should the weather be fair, the participants will push through with the original plan to hold the welcome ceremony at the Villamor Air Base tarmac.
At about 12 noon, all accredited members of the media were ushered and positioned at Hangar 1, which also serves as the holding area. Reporters has to go through two checkpoints for frisking and inspection.
Shortly after, the children who were invited to welcome the Pope also arrived. Among the participants were students from different Catholic schools in Parañaque who were dressed like angels. They will perform the “Sayaw ng Pagbati.”
Other students, wearing white shirts printed with “Mabuhay Pope Francis,” will dance to the songs, “Piliin ang Pilipinas” by singer Angeline Quinto, and “Kapayapaan” by the now-defunct reggae band Tropical Depression.
At 2 p.m., the students were asked to do rehearsals at the tarmac.
Pope Francis will arrive with a 31-member entourage. He will be using the Popemobile on his way to the Papal Nunciature, where he will stay during his five-day visit. PND (jb)
|Government carrying out new security arrangement for Pope Francis’ visit|
|The government’s National Organizing Committee, tasked to iron out preparations for the visit of Pope Francis, has done several improvements to ensure the safety of the pontiff during his visit.
Under the new security arrangement, authorities will allow more people to have a glimpse of the visiting head of the Roman Catholic Church when he arrives in Manila on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during Wednesday’s press briefing.
The committee has studied footages of the motorcade of Pope John II in 1995 when he arrived for World Youth Day at the Quirino Grandstand, Lacierda said.
The committee, he said, changed the layout of Roxas Boulevard as part of the new security set-up to prevent people from moving once the pope’s convoy nears.
The crowd will now be allowed to take the entire northbound lane going to Luneta as well as the center island, he explained.
Authorities have also put up barricades and have deployed security personnel, he added.
“So, instead of people surging to see (the pope), the crowd will now be allowed to occupy the northbound lane.”
Authorities have also formed grids to create buffer areas, and inside the grids are mini quadrants, he said.
“There will be buffer areas. In case magkaroon ng tulakan and stampede, meron kang area to move to,” he noted.
In 1995, organizers had to airlift Pope John Paul II in and out of the grandstand because it was impossible for the Pope mobile to enter the area.
Lacierda said each grid will be manned by eight police personnel, 400 AFP reservists, eight to 10 Health Department personnel, eight to 10 Red Cross volunteers and two marshals.
Every morning, officials have been holding security briefings, Lacierda said, adding that Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa will meet on Thursday morning for another security briefing. PND (as)
|President Aquino to surprise Pope Francis with special token|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III wants to surprise Pope Francis with customary gifts when they meet on Friday, a Palace official said.
“We will surprise the Pope with our customary gifts, but we don’t know what the gifts would be as yet,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Like other visiting foreign leaders, Pope Francis will be accorded the formalities and dignities of a head of state, Lacierda noted.
“And as such, he will be provided a gift, as we provide all the other heads of state. As we have also seen in Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that because of his role as a head of state, Pope Francis will be given all the honors that befit a head of state.
The only difference, he said, is that the pope will also have a general audience with senior Cabinet officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
The pope, who is arriving on Thursday, will have an audience of 450 individuals at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace.
Pope Francis is in Sri Lanka for the first leg of his week-long Asian tour. After Sri Lanka, he will proceed to the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, for a five-day visit.
He will attend several activities in Manila and Leyte while in the Philippines. PND (as)
|Government disseminates information to ensure safe, orderly visit of Pope Francis|
|The government has released infographics, advising the people about flight schedules, road closures, as well as ways to ensure everyone’s safety during the five-day visit of Pope Francis, which starts Thursday.
“The President has asked us to do some infographics and to remind and inform the people,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.
“We’d like to ask you to share and disseminate (these infographics),” he told reporters.
The infographics contain the Pope’s itinerary during his entire stay here in the Philippines, from arrival to departure, Lacierda said.
There are information on the operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the papal visit, he said, noting that at certain times, arrivals and departures will not be allowed, depending on aircraft activity or aircraft turnaround.
There is also an advisory on the no-fly zone, he added.
On the operations of the Light Rail Transit, Lacierda said the Quirino LRT station will remain closed from January 15 to 19 but the entire LRT Line will be open.
Trains will bypass the Quirino station from January 15 to January 19, he said, noting that the station will be closed from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday January 15; and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday January 17.
On Friday January 16, and on Sunday January 18, the Quirino station will be closed the entire day from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.On Monday January 19, the day of the pope’s departure, it will be closed from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The Palace is also disseminating safety reminders to the public to ensure the security of the pope and those attending his events, especially the Holy Mass at Rizal Park.
“For the Luneta event, which is expected to draw millions of visitors, we’d like to emphasize three things: be calm, don’t push, and don’t run,” Lacierda said.
At the same time, he called on those joining the events to practice good manners and right conduct by not littering and refraining from making pranks that might cause the crowd to panic.
He advised the people to bring identification cards, snacks, raincoats instead of umbrellas, and put these things in transparent plastic bags instead of backpacks.
He also cautioned the people against bringing fragile items, wearing expensive jewelry and bringing too much cash.
He further advised the people not to bring alcohol and pets.
All the reminders and information could be found in the government website www.gov.ph, Lacierda said.
The government also came up with a video on crowd safety reminders, which was shown to the media on Wednesday.
Pope Francis is arriving on Thursday for a five-day visit to the Philippines, the second leg of his Asian tour, after Sri Lanka. PND (as)
|Palace fends off rumor on Manila ports’ closure during Pope Francis’ visit|
|The Palace on Wednesday clarified that Manila’s ports will continue to operate during the visit of Pope Francis, contrary to some reports.
“Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras would like to clarify that the ports of Manila will not be closed for five days, as rumored,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.
“There had been meetings and discussions on coming up with an effective plan on how to handle port operations during the time of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis.”
Secretary Almendras heads the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion.
Secretary Coloma explained that although the ports would be unable to accept outbound cargoes during the holidays, they will continue to service ships that are unloading cargoes and help move out empty containers.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has confirmed that there is no such thing as a total truck ban during the five-day holiday, Coloma said, quoting Almendras.
The Palace official also said that trucks will be allowed in the regular truck routes during the allowed hours, except routes that will be affected by the activities during the Pope’s visit.
The routes that will be temporarily closed will be re-opened once the events’ venues have been cleared, he added.
“Secretary Almendras wishes to assure businessmen, importers and exporters that the five-day event will not significantly hamper our continuous efforts for the efficient operations of the ports of Manila,” Coloma noted.
“He continues his appeal for all stakeholders to cooperate and implement the agreed plans and actions during the Pope’s visit.”
Pope Francis, who is currently in Sri Lanka, is arriving in the country on Thursday, January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines. The pope will attend several events in Manila as well as in Leyte during his pastoral visit. PND (as)
|Palace to politicians using Papal visit for political gain: Find another time for grandstanding|
|The Palace on Tuesday told politicians who plan to use the apostolic visit of Pope Francis for grandstanding purposes, to find another occasion to do so.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the focus of the visit should be on the Pope and no one else.
“Mainam po na sa pagdalaw ng Santo Papa ang pangunahing pokus, ang sentral na atensyon ay matutuon mismo sa Mahal na Santo Papa at ‘yung ibang mga naghahangad na maging prominente din ang pagkakilala sa kanila, mas mainam siguro na pumili na lang sila ng ibang okasyon,” he said when asked if the Palace has any message to politicians who intend to use the Papal visit for their political gain.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Manila and Tacloban City, Leyte from Thursday to Monday. The Pontiff is currently in Sri Lanka the first leg of his two-country Asian tour.
Meanwhile, Coloma said the Palace is still gathering data to determine the total expenditure for the Papal visit.
“Hanggang sa ngayon ay kinakalap pa ‘yung mga datos. Pansinin natin na maraming ahensiya ng pamahalaan ang involved dito,” he explained, noting that some of the preparations being made, such as road repair, are part of the agencies’ regular expenses.
“At tulad ng ating nabanggit noong nakaraan, hindi naman ito lalayo sa makatwiran at resonableng antas ng paggugol na sinusunod sa tuwing may dadalaw na katulad ng Mahal na Santo Papa,” he added. PND (ag)
|President Aquino appeals for ‘Bayanihan’ to ensure people’s safety during Papal visit|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday evening made a televised appeal to the public to work together to ensure everyone’s safety during the upcoming pastoral visit of Pope Francis.
“Kailangan natin ng pagdadamayan at pagbabayanihan. Malinaw na napakalaki ng hamong dala ng pagbisitang ito ni Pope Francis sa ating bansa. Nakataya rito ang kaligtasan niya, ng napakaraming dadalo sa kanyang mga gawain at mag-aabang sa kanya,” President Aquino said.
Showing video clips of past attacks on Popes, such as when Pope John Paul II was attacked inside the Vatican, the President noted that even without a terrorist threat, danger looms in large gatherings of people.
As millions of Filipinos are expected to attend the Mass to be celebrated by the Pontiff in Luneta on Sunday, President Aquino said he fears that the mere eagerness of the people to catch a glimpse of the Pope could start a commotion that could turn into chaos.
“Obligasyon ng gobyerno ang inyong kaligtasan, at para magampanan ang tungkuling ito ay may obligasyon din kayo,” he said, adding that in the next few days, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas and Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista will issue bulletins regarding security preparations during the Papal visit.
“Ang panawagan po namin: Makinig po tayo, at makiisa sa pagbabahagi ng impormasyon. Ipakita po natin ang pakikisama at pagtutulungan, nang matiyak nating magiging mataimtim at mapayapa ang pagbisita ni Pope Francis sa ating bansa,” he said. PND (ag)
|Palace reiterates call to the public to cooperate with authorities during the Papal visit|
|The Palace on Sunday reiterated its call to the public to cooperate with authorities during the five-day visit of Pope Francis in Manila and Tacloban City, Leyte.
“Hindi kakayanin ng gobyerno mag-isa. Nakikipag-ugnayan kami sa simbahan at sa iba’t ibang mga grupo sa pribadong sektor. Kapag pinagtulungan natin, maaabot natin ang inaasam-asam natin na isang mapayapa at talagang makabuluhang pagbisita ng ating Santo Papa,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., quoting President Benigno Aquino III.
Coloma added that the government is not taking any chances and has thought of all the possible scenarios.
“Sa malalaking pagtitipon, malaki rin ang tyansa na kahit na maliit na komosyon ay maaaring humantong sa malaking kaguluhan o stampede,” said Coloma in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
He urged all those who wish to participate in the activities in Luneta and Tacloban City to follow the instructions of marshals, ushers, enforcers and police authorities.
“Tulad po ng ginagawa nating pag-iingat kapag pumupunta tayo sa mga sinehan o auditorium, pansinin natin ang mga itinakdang nearest exits. Ito po ang tinutukoy ni Pangulong Aquino. Hanapin po natin ang mga puwang, mga corridor o exit points sa Luneta at Tacloban Airport kung saan magdiriwang ng misa ang Mahal na Santo Papa,” said Coloma.
He added that the Palace has done a walk-through this Sunday at the Malacanang Palace grounds.
“Ang nasabing walk-through ay dinaluhan ng mga miyembro ng Gabinete at ilan pang opisyal ng pamahalaan at ito ay isinakatuparan upang masiguro ang maayos, organisado, at mahusay na daloy ng mga itinakdang kaganapan sa loob ng Palasyo na bahagi ng general audience of senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps,” said Coloma.
While on Monday, the Metro Manila Development Authority is scheduled to have a dry-run of how the Pontiff will travel from the Villamor Airport to his different destinations.
Coloma also assured the public that the visit of Pope Francis to the country will only cost as much as other previous state visits of head of states. PND (ag)
|Government to launch massive info campaign for Pope Francis’ Philippine visit|
|The government will carryout an aggressive information drive starting Monday to ensure the orderly and safe visit of Pope Francis in the country next week, a Palace official said.
In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail said the President instructed the team handling the preparations for the papal visit to inform the public about the event aside from concentrating on the pope’s security. The president also wants everyone’s safety for those joining the event.
“Kasi hindi po maliit ang crowd na ini-expect po natin, so kailangan may mga kaukulang paghahanda po,” Valte said.
Beginning Monday, the government will be releasing materials that will help aid or advise the public about the upcoming papal visit.
“Magpo-produce po tayo ng iba-ibang advisories in the form of different kinds of materials that will aid those who want to participate in papal events to ready them to attend,” she said.
Authorities want the people to be ready to attend any of the papal events and must bring with them first aid kits and snacks in clear plastic bags, Valte said.
The advisories will also orient the people on the location of the portalets and the different exits, et cetera, she added. There will also be advisories on road closures, flight schedules and others.
“While ‘yung sa flights po are already made available by NAIA and the airlines, we will be putting a consolidated page on the Official Gazette where everyone can go and check kung ano po ang particular concern that applies to them,” Valte noted.
The government will leave the spiritual preparations on the Catholic Church, the Palace official added.
Valte also said they are doing all the necessary preparations because they expect a bigger crowd next week compared to the visit of Pope John II who attended the World Youth Day in 1995 in Manila.
At least five million people attended the World Youth Day at the Quirino Grandstand.
Apart from ensuring the security of His Holiness, Valte said they also want to make sure that the people would really be proud of participating in the event.
The Palace official also made an appeal asking the public to observe discipline and to cooperate with authorities.
Pope Francis will arrive in Manila January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines. Several events are lined up for him in Manila and in Tacloban in Leyte.
He is meeting President Aquino in Malacanang as well as the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte. The pontiff will also hold masses in Manila during his trip. PND (as)
|President Aquino calls for public cooperation to ensure success of Papal visit|
|(ROMBLON, Romblon) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday underscored the importance of public cooperation to ensure the safety and success of Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines next week.
President Aquino said the government is making all the necessary preparations for the upcoming papal visit.
“Siyempre, may challenge din tayo, dahil itong Papa natin sa ngayon ay malapit sa tao talaga at hinahanap ‘yung makadaupang palad ang ating mga kababayan,” he said during an interview with members of the press here.
At least 25,000 policemen and soldiers will be deployed to secure the Pope’s visit, the President said.
He however noted that the government could not do it alone, considering that millions of people are expected to see the Pope, who will offer Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park on Sunday, January 18.
“Nakipag-ugnayan kami sa simbahan, sa iba’t ibang mga grupo sa sektor na pribado, na kapag pinagtulungan natin ito, maaabot natin ang inaasam-asam natin na isang mapayapa at saka talagang makabuluhang pagbisita ng ating Santo Papa,” he said.
President Aquino said the people’s cooperation is important for the successful visit of Pope Francis.
“Taumbayan ang susi dito para maging matiwasay at mapayapa ang pagbisita ng Santo Papa,” the Chief Executive said.
Pope Francis is slated to arrive in Manila on Thursday, January 15 and leave on Monday, January 19. PND (co)
|President Aquino meets with church leaders to iron out preparations for Pope Francis’ visit|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III met with leaders of the Catholic Church on Thursday to go over the preparations being made for the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines next week.The President, together with members of his Cabinet, met with Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and other leaders of the Catholic Church to discuss the security aspect of the pope’s visit, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“Nagkakaisa ang pamahalaan at ang simbahan sa panawagan sa mga mamamayan hinggil sa kanilang pakikiisa sa lahat ng mga ipaiiral na patakaran na naglalayong tiyakin ang maayos na daloy ng lahat ng kaganapan at ang kaligtasan ng lahat ng lalahok,” Coloma said.
“Tinukoy ang kahalagahan ng kooperasyon mula sa lahat ng inaasahang dadalo sa mga misa sa Luneta at Tacloban, at sa mga sasaksi sa motorcade ng Santo Papa sa Kamaynilaan at Leyte.”
Coloma called on the people to stay calm and follow appropriate guidelines to ensure their safety and the pope’s security.
For the mass in Luneta on January 18, he said, the Rizal Park and the Quirino Grandstand will be open to the public from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Participants will not be allowed to bring bags and backpacks, he said.
“Maaaring magbaon ng pagkain, inumin, at mahalagang kagamitan na dapat ay nakapaloob sa clear o transparent plastic bag o container,” he said, advising those who will attend the mass to bring fans, hats and raincoats, instead of umbrellas.
“Mahigpit na ipatutupad ang mga hakbang panseguridad. Hindi pahihintulutan sa mga itinakdang secured areas ang mga ‘di awtorisadong indibidwal. Mamamahagi rin ng car passes para sa mga awtorisadong sasakyan lamang,” Coloma said.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will announce a detailed traffic rerouting plan for the affected areas after the feast of the Black Nazarene on Friday, January 9, he said.
The MMDA will designate drop-off points and parking areas for those joining the events in Manila.
Coloma also said that the Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines have already announced the cancellation of air travel and the limitation of flights during the pope’s visit. The two agencies have called on travelers to cooperate with the authorities.
The President has designated Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista as the point person on security preparations during the papal visit.
Pope Francis is set to arrive in Manila on Thursday, January 15.
On Friday, January 16, he will meet with senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps at Malacañang Palace, then celebrate a mass at the Manila Cathedral and meet with families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
On Saturday, January 17, the pope will visit Leyte and celebrate a mass at the Tacloban Airport, bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor, and meet with priests and seminarians in Palo, Leyte as well as families representing xthose affected by Typhoon Yolanda last year.
Joining the President during the meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad, and Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin were also present.
Cardinal Tagle on the other hand was accompanied by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Deputy Head of Mission Reverend Monsignor Chibuike Onyeaghala, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and CBCP Secretary Fr. Rufino Cescon, Jr. PND (as)
|Government appeals to importers to move cargoes out of Manila port before Feast of Nazarene, Papal visit|
|The government has appealed to importers to pull out their cargoes from the Port of Manila before the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Friday and the Papal visit, which starts Thursday next week.
“We are appealing to the private sector, we are appealing to the importers, to all the cargo handlers: Could you please pull out as much of your cargoes now while we are able to? What do we mean by now? That’s today, tomorrow, and Thursday,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo falls on Friday, January 9. Classes in Manila, as well as work in city government offices, have been suspended on this day.
Secretary Almendras made the same appeal to importers to claim their cargoes before Thursday, January 15, the day Pope Francis arrives for a five-day visit to the Philippines. January 15, 16 and 19 have been declared as non-working days in the National Capital Region.
Almendras further appealed to businesses that have refrigerated vans in the Port of Manila to pull them out.
“We have noted a significant increase in the refrigerated vans na hindi pinu-pull out. Ang problema po, there is not enough space in the port for refrigerated vans of the volume that we are now seeing… So, nakikiusap din po kami, through media, to all those importers, all those businesses who have these refrigerated vans inside the port, kung pwede lang po, please pull them out as fast as you can,” he said.
He said the Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Plant Industry and other government offices that give clearances, will help facilitate the moving out of the refrigerated vans. PND (ag)
|Security measures in place for visit of Pope Francis, says Palace|
|The government on Friday assured that enough security measures are in place to make the visit of Pope Francis safe.
The pope will arrive in Manila on January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines.
“Lahat naman ng maaaring maging banta o contingencies that could arise ay pinaghahandaan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a telephone interview.
Different government agencies continue to do the necessary preparations for the pope’s visit, he said, noting that they continued to work even during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
On the possible agenda for the President’s meeting with Pope Francis, Coloma said the President is always ready to discuss any issue with the pope.
“Nakita naman po natin ang kahandaan ng ating Pangulo sa maraming pagkakataon na nakipag-ugnayan siya sa mga lider ng ibang bansa na dumalaw sa atin dito at nakipagtalakayan siya sa kanila sa iba’t ibang mga summit ng APEC at ASEAN na kanyang dinaluhan,” he said.
“Handang-handa naman po siyang tumalakay ng ano mang relevant topic na mapag-uusapan sa kanilang discussions.”
Coloma also mentioned the similarities in the guiding principles of the two leaders, saying that both of them are pro-poor and anti-corruption.
He said that among the President’s major advocacies are achieving inclusive growth for everyone, reducing poverty, and fighting graft and corruption under his righteous path agenda.
Similarly, the pope, in his recent public pronouncements, underscored the need to combat corruption in society, and tackled the ill effects of capitalism that deprive poor people of better opportunities, Coloma said. PND (as)
|President Aquino declares three-day holiday during Papal visit|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday issued Proclamation 936, declaring January 15, 16 and 19 as special non-working days in the National Capital Region in connection with Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines.
Pope Francis is expected to arrive in Manila on January 15 for a five-day visit to the country. He has scheduled events in Manila and Tacloban during his trip.
In his Christmas message, the President said he expects the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to bring hope to Filipinos.
“Sa nalalapit naman pong pagbisita ng Santo Papa sa bansa, tiyak na lalong aalab ang pag-asa, at lalalim ang pananalig, hindi lamang ng mga nangangailangan nating kababayan, kung hindi maging ng lahat ng kapatid nating Kristiyano,” he said in his message.
In a previous interview, the President said he would discuss with the pope the reforms being carried out by the government.
The President also said he would thank Pope Francis for inspiring Christians in the Philippines. PND (as)
|President Aquino to thank Pope Francis for inspiring Christians|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III said he will express his gratitude to Pope Francis for inspiring Christians, and raise the issue of social reforms in the Philippines when they meet in January.
Pope Francis will arrive in Manila on January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines, that includes a trip to typhoon-ravaged Leyte.
“Siguro mapapag-usapan namin ‘yung estado ng simbahan na kinabibilangan namin dito,” the President said during the Youth Summit 2014 held in Quezon City on Friday morning.
“Siguro mapapag-usapan rin namin ang mga ginagawang hakbang para magkaroon ng tinatawag na “Kingdom of God” here on this earth, habang nandito tayo.”
He also said he will thank the Pope for inspiring Catholics worldwide by steering the Catholic Church through major social issues.
The Chief Executive said he admires Pope Francis for working to get closer to the flock he shepherds, compared to the past when previous church leaders were disconnected from church members.
President Aquino graced the biannual gathering of the Kristiyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan (KKB), the youth arm of the Jesus is Lord (JIL) Church Worldwide, at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Youth Summit was first held in 2004 as an annual gathering of young people, but became a biannual event starting 2010.
The summit was held in Canada, Italy, Spain, the United States, and Manila. The Philippine summit is the last leg of the event.
The KKB focuses on training young people to become leaders who espouse integrity and excellence. It conducts outreach programs that aim to uplift the welfare of the youth worldwide.
This year’s summit carried the theme, “Fearless.” PND (as)
|President Aquino to request prayers for disaster-free Philippines when he meets Pope Francis|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III said he would ask Pope Francis to pray for a disaster-free Philippines when he meets the head of the Catholic Church next month.
The Chief Executive conveyed this on Friday during this year’s ‘Bulong Pulungan’ forum organized by a group of lifestyle columnists. The event was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.
Upon his arrival in Manila, Pope Francis is expected to pay a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang Palace, where they will have an opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest.
As host, President Aquino said that out of respect, he would let his guest steer the discussion, especially since he and Pope Francis will only have a maximum of one hour to talk.
“Of course, he’s the Holy Father. We’ll have something like a maximum of one hour and I’m sure there are so many people who would love to have an opportunity to be blessed by him in that one hour. So, I guess I really will leave the discussion topics to him, out of respect,” he said.
Pressed, however, to reveal what is it that he would ask the pope to pray for him or for the country during the once-in-a-lifetime occasion, President Aquino responded with hopes that the Philippines could be spared from destructive typhoons that occur almost every year, especially at a time when people are already welcoming the joyous Christmas season.
“We are visited by so many typhoons, and they come here at very unseasonal moments, and they are very strong. We also have the earthquakes and the volcanoes, and parang … we don’t have the ability to stop the cycle of destruction and reconstruction. The goal really is to… when we reconstruct, it’s better,” he explained.
“It withstands the glowing intensity of the effects of global climate change better, and our people are spared the ravages of the increasing challenges. So, ‘di ba, parang… I’m sure some are asking: Why are we being visited with all of these always at this point when it is supposed to be the most joyous and most celebratory period of the year?” he added.
The Philippines has been battered by such tropical cyclones as Typhoons ‘Sendong,’ ‘Pablo,’ and ‘Yolanda,’ which all came in between the months of November and December over the past three years. It is currently bracing for Typhoon ‘Ruby.’
Included in Pope Francis’ official itinerary during his five-day (January 15 to 19) visit here is a trip to the towns of Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, two of the areas that suffered the most number of casualties in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. PND (hdc)
|Malacanang asks for public cooperation during Pope Francis’ visit next year|
|The Palace has started an appeal to the public with the possible inconvenience as a result of the visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines in mid-January next year.
The pope will stay in the country from January 15 to 19, visiting Manila and Tacloban.
In a radio interview Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the government preparations is focused mostly on ensuring the security for the pope.
“The preparations involved security, and of course, we want the visit of His Holiness to go as planned and without any untoward incident,” Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.
“As such, we echo the appeal of the Executive Secretary for patience from our citizens who may be affected by some of the security preparations,” she said.
“We ask you to bear with us and we ask you to… We ask for your understanding because we know that everyone wants the Pope to be safe while he is here in Manila and in Tacloban.”
The Palace official said they are asking for public cooperation to ensure that the pope’s visit to the country will be orderly and peaceful.
The government is also working to ensure the security of officials and leaders who will attend the APEC meeting in the Philippines next year, Valte said.
The first APEC engagement will be the country’s hosting of the informal Senior Officials’ Meeting, she said adding that the national coordinating council of APEC 2015 is actively coordinating with the local government units of Legazpi City and of Albay.
“Maganda naman po ang ating relasyon at pag-coordinate sa kanila, and we know that everyone wants the hosting to be successful,” she said.
With regards to tourists being victimized by robbers in Boracay, Valte said they expect the police to act in addressing these crimes in one of the country’s major tourist destinations.
On Friday, it was reported the some Japanese, Chinese, and Belgian nationals fell victim to thieves in Boracay island. PND (as)
|President Aquino forms National Organizing Committee for Papal visit|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed the mobilization of government resources to ensure the smooth and orderly visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in the Philippines on January 15 to 19, 2015.
In Memorandum Circular No. 72, President Aquino ordered the creation of the Papal Visit 2015-National Organizing Committee (PV-NOC) for the state visit of the Roman Pontiff to coordinate all preparations for this occasion of great significance to the Filipino people.“As instructed by President Aquino, all heads of the different government departments, local governments as well as the private sectors are encouraged to participate and coordinate all efforts to make sure that the visit of His Holiness in our country next year will be well organized and peaceful,” Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Friday.
The PV-NOC will be chaired by the Executive Secretary and vice-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Its members will include the Secretaries of the Departments of National Defense (DND), the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Health (DOH), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Tourism (DOT), and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, National Police Chief, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman.
The PV-NOC is tasked to take up all government participation and responses in connection with the visit of the Pope, and ensure efficient coordination among public and private sectors, particularly with the Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP); peace and order; and the traffic management plan for the transportation of persons and goods during the event.
The Central Committee of the CBCP is at the helm of managing and coordinating all religious and civil plans and activities of the Papal Visit.
MC No. 72 likewise called for the establishment of the two local Executive Committees—EXECOM-Manila and EXECOM-Leyte—in the areas of engagement of His Holiness Pope Francis. The EXECOMs will serve as the on-site full-time, day-to-day operations arms of the PV-NOC.
The EXECOM-Manila will be led by an Undersecretary in the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES). Its members will include the Undersecretaries of the DFA, DND, DILG, DPWH, DOH, DOTC, DOT, and PCOO; Chief of the Presidential Protocol Office; representatives from the OP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and MMDA; Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager; Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander; and head of the Radio-Television Malacanang.
The EXECOM-Leyte, on the other hand, will be led by an Undersecretary in the OES with members including the Regional Director of the PNP, Commander of the AFP Central Command, Regional Directors of the DOTC and DPWH, PSG Security Task Action Group Commander-Leyte, and a representative from the Radio-Television Malacanang.
MC No. 72 shall take effect immediately and until the conclusion of the Papal Visit in January 2015. PND
|President Aquino welcomes Pope Francis to Malacanang Palace|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday welcomed Pope Francis to Malacañang Palace.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, who is in the country for a five-day state and apostolic visit, arrived in Malacañang on board a Volkswagen Touran at about 9:21 a.m. and was met by the President. The pontiff was accorded full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, during a ceremony at the Kalayaan grounds.
After the ceremony, Cabinet officials kissed and shook the hand of the Pope. President Aquino, on the other hand, greeted the members of the papal delegation.
Pope Francis also kissed and blessed some children who approached him, as he and the President walked towards the Palace Main Lobby. He was also greeted by Palace officials, employees and guests waving Philippine and Vatican flags.
The pontiff later signed the Official Guestbook at the Reception Hall and proceeded to a tête-â-tête with President Aquino at the President’s Hall.
The Pope also had a general audience with senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps at the Rizal Hall, following his meeting with the Chief Executive. PND (co)
|Pope Francis conveys message of hope and solidarity in pastoral visit|
|On his first state and apostolic visit to the Philippines, His Holiness Pope Francis conveyed messages of hope and solidarity, especially for those devastated by calamities that have befallen the country.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church made his first public statement on Friday during a general audience with senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps in Malacañang Palace’s Rizal Hall.
“This visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss, and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda,” Pope Francis said, referring to the super typhoon that barreled through the Visayas region in 2013.
Pope Francis echoed the general sentiment of other state guests who had visited the country in the aftermath of the tragedy, saying he “admired the heroic strength, faith, and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster and so many others.”
“Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by the Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young,” he said.
Before Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippines also had to deal with a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, as well as an armed conflict in Zamboanga City that lasted for almost three weeks.
“In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbors in need. At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good,” Pope Francis said.
“This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson. Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges,” he added.
On Saturday, January 17, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit some of the areas ruined by Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte, where he will hold a concelebrated mass and meet with typhoon victims. PND (hdc)
|Pope Francis leads mass for priests, encourages church leaders to protect Filipino values|
|Pope Francis, in the Philippines for a five-day visit, led the celebration of a mass for priests and the religious at the Manila Cathedral on Friday morning.
“Mercy and compassion,” the theme of his Philippine tour, was the leitmotif of the mass.
In his homily, Pope Francis said that the Church has an obligation to fight the ills of society.
“As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ,” he said.
The Gospel, he said, calls on individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good.
The pope also had a special message to young priests, the religious and seminarians.
“I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers,” Pope Francis said.
“Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope,” he added.
“Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets.”
Priests and the religious, he noted, must proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society that is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.
“These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture,” he told the priests and religious, who came from across the country and Asia.
The Filipinos’ great devotion to the Catholic faith and love of God are a great heritage that contains a powerful missionary potential, the pontiff said, encouraging church leaders to build on this foundation as they prepare the Church for its fifth centenary.
Religious leaders have hoped that the celebration of the mass would bring to the fore the distinctive role of priests as ministers of God’s mercy and compassion so they would be able to effectively fulfill their ministry and mission.
An addition to Friday’s mass was the Confessio Peccati, a rite that allows priests and religious persons to express their sorrow for the sins they have committed against the Lord.
Through the Confessio Peccati, priests are expected to remain faithful to the promises and vows they made during their ordination.
This rite aims to illuminate the general theme of the priest and the laity being ministers and witnesses of God’s mercy and compassion. PND (as)
|Pope Francis urges Filipino families to instill ‘culture of integrity’ among the youth|
|His Holiness Pope Francis encouraged families and local communities to develop a “culture of integrity” among the nation’s youth, given its fundamental role in the renewal of society.
“Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals, and genuine concern for others. But, like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support,” Pope Francis said in a speech delivered in Malacañang on Friday, ahead of his meetings with Filipino families and the youth in Manila, among the highlights of his five-day state and apostolic visit.
The Pope expressed concern over some of the issues confronting democratic societies, urging all families to uphold the basic principles espoused by the Catholic Church by passing them on to the youth.
“We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm,” Pope Francis said.
“For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision, which can help bring about a culture of integrity—a culture which honors goodness, truthfulness, fidelity, and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together,” he added.
Pope Francis met with a number of Filipino families on Friday afternoon after his engagements at the Palace and a Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.
On Sunday, January 18, the Pope will have a meeting with the youth, to be hosted by the University of Santo Tomas, the Philippines’ largest and oldest Catholic educational institution that has long-standing ties with the Holy See. PND (hdc)
|President Aquino says he draws inspiration from Pope Francis|
|A warm reception greeted Pope Francis in Malacañang on Friday, as he was met by President Benigno S. Aquino III, along with Cabinet members, Church leaders and Palace employees.
The 78-year-old Argentine pope was given the traditional arrival honors for a visiting head of state.
After signing the guest book, Pope Francis had a closed-door meeting with the President.
The two leaders then addressed their audience waiting at the Rizal Hall, composed of government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps and invited guests from the private sector.
In his speech, President Aquino revealed how he draws inspiration from Pope Francis in his quest to reform the Philippines, a country marred by corruption, poverty and social injustices.
“In the fight to transform society, one cannot help but be heartened by the fact that we are not alone. When we tread this path with people such as yourself, along with the millions you have inspired, we gain the courage to do what needs doing, the optimism to dream about what we can achieve in unity with one another, and the opportunity to turn that dream into a shared reality, with the grace of Almighty God,” he said.
The Chief Executive noted that he has been plagued by criticisms and prejudices but he continues to speak the truth and face the challenges to effect real change.
He cited Pope Francis’ Christmas speech before the Roman Curia, warning of “illnesses” that people in power are prone to, such as becoming “sowers of discord” through gossip and grumbling.
He likened his situation to that of Pope Francis, who gets to be criticized occasionally for being open and radical.
“In your example, we see the wisdom of continuing to ask, ‘Why not?’ We see joy, a sense of authentic service, and an insistence on a true community of the faithful,” he said.
The President said he appreciates and respects the role of Pope Francis as a “unifying and revitalizing voice,” not just among Catholics, but also among all peoples of goodwill.
“Who can deny that Your Holiness is truly living the life of one who is dedicated to advocating for the oppressed and marginalized?” he added.
President Aquino, meanwhile, lamented how the Church tended to turn a deaf ear to the abuses of the previous administration, noting that it should have been “always at the forefront of championing the rights of all.”
However, he also recalled the role played by the Church during the EDSA People Power Revolution, wherein its faith, compassion and courage fostered the people’s fervor to topple an oppressive government. PND (jb)
|Pope Francis echoes sentiment of Filipino public on politicians|
|His Holiness Pope Francis did not pass up the opportunity to issue some reminders to politicians, especially in a nation that is never bereft of public officials tagged in various allegations of corruption, which further broadens the gap between the rich and the poor.
Speaking before senior government officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps in Malacañang on Friday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church told political leaders, as well as those who are fortunate enough in life, that they should always heed the needs of the poor.
“The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us to break the bonds of injustice and oppression, which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities,” Pope Francis said in his speech.
The pontiff, whose state and apostolic visit carries the theme “Mercy and Compassion,” said reforming social structures, which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor, must first require a “conversion of mind and heart.”
“The Bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the ‘Year of the Poor.’ I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man, woman, and child in the life of the community,” he said.
The administration is continuously addressing the issues of poverty and corruption, considered as two of the biggest challenges it needs to hurdle to achieve its promise of inclusive growth.
The pope further noted that the Philippines, along with other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society, one that is “respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions.”
“As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good,” he said.
“In this way, they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity, and peace.”
Pope Francis said the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity is essential to the attainment of these national goals. PND (hdc)
|Pope Francis thanks President Aquino for inviting him to the Philippines|
|His Holiness Pope Francis thanked President Benigno S. Aquino III for inviting him to the Philippines and for the warm welcome he and the entire Filipino nation has extended to him since he arrived on Thursday evening.
Pope Francis was given an official welcome ceremony before throngs of the Catholic faithful at the Malacañang Palace grounds on Friday morning, complete with full military honors that befit a head of state.
“I thank you, Mr. President, for your kind welcome and for your words of greeting in the name of the authorities and people of the Philippines, and the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps. I am most grateful for your invitation to visit the Philippines,” Pope Francis said in a statement delivered at the Palace’s Rizal Hall.
Recognizing the immense influence Christianity has on Filipino culture, the pope noted that his visit is more ‘pastoral’ in nature, as it coincides with the Church’s celebration of the fifth centenary of the “first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores.”
“It is my hope that this important anniversary will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity, and aspirations of the Filipino people,” he said.
The Philippines is considered as the third largest country with Roman Catholic followers, hence the great significance put on the papal visit.
“As I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia. I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live,” Pope Francis said.
He also took the opportunity to personally lend his support to the continuing efforts the Aquino administration is taking to achieve a just and lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.
“I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal,” the pontiff said.
“In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities.”
Pope Francis said he hopes that the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in the efforts of government officials to provide their fellow citizens with an integral human development.
This way, he said, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country.
“Upon all of you, and upon all the men, women and children of this beloved nation, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings. Thank you,” Pope Francis said before leaving the Palace to pursue his other engagements in Manila for the day. PND (hdc)
|Pope Francis saddened by leaving Leyte early, thanked heroes of ‘Yolanda’|
|Pope Francis admitted cutting short his trip to Leyte on Saturday saddened him, but he made sure his visit to the province would be memorable, especially for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.
The pontiff was supposed to deliver a speech for the religious individuals he met at the Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration in the town of Palo but was instead reduced to issuing apologies as he had to leave early.
“I apologize to you all. I am sad about this, truly saddened, because I had something prepared especially for you. But let us leave everything in the hands of Our Lady because I have to go now,” the Pope said in his brief remarks.
Pope Francis was originally scheduled to depart Leyte at 5:00 p.m. but the pilots of the plane carrying him insisted that they leave at 1:00 p.m. instead as the weather in the province kept getting worse.
Leyte was placed under public storm warning signal no. 2 due to typhoon ‘Amang.’ Pope Francis, however, still managed to accomplish all his scheduled activities there regardless of the inclement weather.
The Holy See press, meanwhile, still released his undelivered speech for the public in which Pope Francis expressed his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who emerged as heroes in the aftermath of ‘Yolanda.’
He also prayed for those who suffered during those challenging times and asked the people to invoke God’s consolation and peace upon all those who still grieve.
Pope Francis, moreover, implored for the poor to be treated fairly and be given more opportunities for employment and education through just and inclusive political and economic policies.
“I ask all of you, and all responsible for the good of society, to renew your commitment to social justice and the betterment of the poor, both here and in the Philippines as a whole,” Pope Francis said. PND (hdc)
|Pope Francis mourns death of woman who helped organize mass in Tacloban|
|Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the death of a 27 year-old woman who figured in a freak accident, as the mass he officiated was about to start in stormy Tacloban, Leyte last Saturday.
In his ‘Encounter with the Youth’ at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Sunday, the pontiff began his homily by breaking the sad news to the young people present in the audience.
Pope Francis asked them to join him in offering prayers and a moment of silence for the victim, identified in news reports as Kristel Mae Padasas, as well as for her grieving parents.
Padasas hailed originally from Samar and was in Tacloban to help the church in organizing the papal mass. She died when a piece of the scaffolding was brushed by strong winds and accidentally fell on her.
“She worked for those Catholic relief services, a volunteer worker. I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to Mama, our lady, in heaven… Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban as part of his five-day state and apostolic journey in the Philippines was cut short due to the threat of tropical storm ‘Amang.’
He went there especially to meet the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and bring them words of encouragement and inspiration from the Lord to help them recover from their harrowing experiences in the tragedy. PND (hdc)
|Pope Francis calls on Filipinos to be ‘outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia’|
|Pope Francis called on Filipinos to be “outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia” during a mass attended by millions including President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday.
In his homily, Pope Francis said the Philippines being “the foremost Catholic country in Asia” is “a special gift of God and a special blessing” as this country had shown solidarity and unity like brothers and sisters in times of calamities.
“Today, Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon,” the 78-year-old Jesuit Pope told at least seven millions of Catholics who endured the inclement weather during his much anticipated mass in Manila.
As the country celebrates the feast of Santo Niño, the well-loved pontiff said the Holy Child reminded Filipinos that everyone is God’s children who should protect every God’s creation especially the family.
“He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption,” he said.
He stressed that during these times that people are distracted by “ephemeral pleasures and superficial pastimes” such as gambling and drinking, people should remember in their hearts that they are children of God whose identity must be protected and should become the protector of the country.
“We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets,” he said.
“Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace,” he added.
The pontiff asked Filipinos to emulate the childlike image of Santo Niño who resisted all sins including dishonesty and corruption.
He prayed that Santo Niño continues to bless the Philippines and asked all Catholics to become witnesses and missionaries of the Gospel in Asia and the world.
He called on Filipinos to work together in building a world of justice, peace and integrity.
In the end of his homily, Pope Francis asked the millions of Filipinos who attended his mass to always pray for him.
In a press briefing, Director of the Holy See Office Father Federico Lombardi said the crowd was estimated around six to seven million. Philippines is the largest Catholic nation in Asia.
“This is the largest event of the history of the Pope,” the Italian priest said lauding the preparations done by organizers of the mass.
With the warm reception shown by Filipinos during the Pope Francis’ visit, Cardinal Antonio Tagle was asked regarding the possibility of the pontiff’s return to the country. Tagle could not say for certain but he noted that the Philippines will be holding the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in January next year in which the Pope will be invited.
Pope Francis is in the country for his five-day state and pastoral visit. He will return to Rome on Monday. PND (jb)
|Pope Francis moved by little girl who asked: ‘Why does God let children suffer?|
|Pope Francis was humbly moved by a 12-year old girl who posed a question he could not answer during his ‘Encounter with the Youth’ event at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Sunday morning.The pontiff spent almost half of his day at the UST, the oldest Catholic university that has deep-rooted ties with the Vatican, to meet young people and provide them some words of wisdom and inspiration.
One of the five youths that was given a rare opportunity to speak to the Pope was Glyzelle Palomar, a former street kid, who broke in tears while sharing her story to the Pope.
Palomar talked about the kind of suffering she and other kids like her was made to experience, like getting exposed to illegal drugs and prostitution at such a young age, prompting her to ask the Pope: “Why does God let children suffer?”
Pope Francis praised the intelligence in Palomar’s question, even though he admitted he had no answer for it, and this made him wonder why there was only a small representation of women in the audience.
“Women have much to tell us in today’s society. Sometimes we are too ‘machistas’ and we don’t allow room for the woman. But women can see things from a different angle from us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions we, men, are not able to understand,” the pontiff said in his native Spanish.
“Look out for this fact today: she, Glyzelle, is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer. And she was not able to express it in words but, rather, in tears,” he added.
The Pope then asked in jest for more women, girls, to show up and be represented in future papal visits to Manila.
The wise man in Pope Francis though would not let such questions go totally unanswered. He said perhaps the appropriate reply could be found also in tears, which are devoid of what he referred to as “worldly compassion.”
“Only when we, too, can cry about the things just said are we able to come close to replying to that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask yourself and cry, then we can understand something.”
There is a worldly compassion, which is useless… a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor,” he said.
Pope Francis noted that if Jesus Christ had that kind of compassion, one’s idea of caring for the others would have stopped at just giving something to the needy, without even bothering to understand what the poor person is going through.
“It was only when Jesus was able to cry that He understood something in our lives. Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. [But the marginalized] people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears,” he said.
The Pope then implored the people not to forget the great example set by Palomar, to learn how to weep for the suffering of others, and to be courageous about it.
“If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. This is a challenge. When they posed this question to us—why children suffer, why this or that tragedy occurs in life—our response must be either silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous, don’t be afraid to cry.” PND (hdc)
|President Aquino leads send-off ceremony for Pope Francis|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III led the send-off ceremony for Pope Francis, who left for Rome on Monday morning after a five-day state and apostolic visit to the country.
Joining the President at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City were Catholic bishops and Cabinet officials, among them Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.
Pope Francis left at about 10:12 a.m. via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 8010.
Some 400 street children under the care of the social welfare department and other foundations performed as part of the send-off ceremony.
Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines was the second leg of his Asian tour that also covered Sri Lanka.
His grand mass on Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand drew a record crowd of 6 million despite the stormy weather, breaking a 1995 record when 5 million attended a similar event led by Pope John Paul II in the same venue.
Prior to the mass on Sunday, Pope Francis met with youths at the University of Sto. Tomas.
The highlight of the pope’s visit to the Philippines was his meeting with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda last year, which killed thousands of people and destroyed communities and livelihood. PND (as)
|President Aquino, sisters attend Pope Francis’ grand mass at Quirino Grandstand|
|President Bengino S. Aquino III and his sisters attended Pope Francis’ grand mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Sunday, January 18.
The President, who arrived at the venue past 2 p.m., was joined by his sisters Pinky Aquino Abellada and Kris Aquino, who came with her sons, Bimby and Josh.
Sunday’s mass, which was officiated by Pope Francis, was the last activity during the five-day visit of the pontiff to the Philippines.
The mass, held despite rain showers due to a storm in the Visayas, celebrated the Feast of the Sto. Niño.
Prior to the event, Pope Francis met with youths at the University of Sto. Tomas.
The pope, received with tremendous enthusiasm by Filipinos, left for the Vatican on Monday morning.
His visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka aimed to strengthen the influence of Catholicism in the Asian region.
The pontiff’s visit to the Philippines also aimed to meet victims of last year’s Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. He did meet them last Saturday, although he had to cut the visit short due to bad weather. PND (as)
|Palace expresses gratitude for successful Papal visit|
|The Palace has expressed its gratitude to the Filipino people for the successful five-day state and apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the country.
“We thank our countrymen for their solidarity in ensuring the safety of the Pope: From the thousands who patiently lined the route of the papal motorcade; to the organizations that encouraged mindfulness and helped maintain order during the public engagements of the Pope; and to the millions who participated in the papal activities,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement posted at the Official Gazette (www.gov.ph) on Monday.
“We recognize the dedication of the different church groups that worked hand-in-hand with government. Their cooperation, as they kept in mind advisories for all the events, contributed to fostering an organized and peaceful papal visit,” he added.
Lacierda also thanked the media for relaying relevant information to the people and the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in ensuring public security.
“The gratitude of the Filipino people extends to those not directly involved with the Pope’s security—those who manned different posts, as their colleagues were reassigned to safeguard the welfare of Pope Francis and of the many who came out to see him,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a press interview after the Pontiff boarded Shepherd One (Philippine Airlines Flight PR 8010) bound for Rome, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Pope Francis was “very, very happy”, when he was asked if the Pope was glad with the reception he received from the Filipinos.
“Tuwang-tuwa siya doon sa hospitality na ipinakita (sa kanya). Damang-dama daw niya ‘yung warmth,” he said.
“Inulit-ulit niya ang pasasalamat sa sambayanan na talagang ikinatuwa niya ang init ng pagsalubong na ginawa,” the President added.
Pope Francis left Manila on Monday morning after his state and pastoral visit to the country, concluding his two-nation Asian tour which began in Sri Lanka. PND (ag)
|Palace official credits public cooperation for success of Papal visit|
|The Palace has cited the people’s cooperation with authorities as a major factor in the success of the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.”Sa amin, ang biggest factor for the success (of the papal visit) was the people themselves, kasi kinusa nila na maging maayos, maging matagumpay,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during an interview with reporters at Villamor Airbase on Monday.
“All the efforts of the government would have been for naught kung hindi nakiisa ang bawat Pilipino at kung hindi naging maayos ang pagdalo sa misa,” he said.
Secretary Coloma, along with a number of Cabinet secretaries and Catholic bishops, joined President Benigno S. Aquino III during the send-off ceremony for Pope Francis.
Pope Francis left for Rome at about 10:12 a.m. on Monday, capping his hectic five-day visit to Asia’s largest Catholic country.
“We would like to thank our people for their full cooperation. Ang panawagan po natin sa kanila: Makiisa, makisama, makipagbayanihan,” he said, adding that they strictly followed the guidelines set by the authorities.
Coloma also commended the men and women in uniform who worked hard, even in bad weather, to maintain order and ensure the pope’s safety.
“Saludo po kami sa inyo at maraming salamat po. Sa lahat po ng pagkakataon, kapansin-pansin ang dedikasyon, sipag, pagiging masigasig, at mapagpasensiya ng ating mga sundalo at pulis,” he said.
Despite the gargantuan task, soldiers and policemen did their job well because deep in their hearts, they were not merely performing their duties but they were also experiencing a moment of faith, he said.
Prior to the pope’s arrival last week, President Aquino said 25,000 military and police personnel were to be deployed to secure Pope Francis and the public. PND (as)