My Pope Francis Experience

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I've said this before and I'll say it again, I really enjoyed seeing and reading all the Pope Francis posts from my family and friends, especially during the Luneta Grandstand mass last Sunday. Everyone had their own favorite "moments", own favorite Pope quotes from his heart-warming speeches, and even adventures just to see our head of the church.

I was excited for these days because I remembered clearly how my sisters and I were talking about our European cousins who were able to attend and camp at the World Youth Day in Brazil. We vowed to make ends meet and attend a WYD even once in our lifetime. And so THIS is the closest that we can have of such huge Catholic gathering. We can't miss the chance!

So, while waiting for check-out here in Azumi Hotel where I spent my birthday, I hope to share to you my own story! :)

DAY 1: Thursday, January 15

Millions were glued to their TV (and Twitter) at around 5 in the afternoon to watch the arrival of our Pope. Felt like a level up new year's eve, seryosong the anticipation made my stomach twirl! Meanwhile, the parentals were out of the house as early as 8am because they volunteered as human barricades where the Pope's entourage will pass. They waited and waited and waited some more outside the road in front of NAIA4, and soon their sacrifices paid off as they were fortunate to be one of the FIRSTS to see our Pope up close minus the huge crowd of last Sunday. 

Photos sent by my techie dad that night:

I got even more excited, and started to check Papal itineraries and maps online. I was trying to prepare a game plan. I also read Pope Francis stories online, posted my favorite quotes, and also went to the grocery for chips and chocolates and other Luneta Sunday mass baon.

DAY 2: Friday, January 16
Ate risked and went all the way to Mall of Asia even without tickets and special access. From her former school DLSU Taft to Manila Cathedral, then the streets of MOA.. Ate ended the day fulfilled with her mission #ModernPilgrim. Meanwhile, I spent the day glued to TV and Twitter, same as with Day 3 during Pope's Tacloban visit. 

DAY 4: Sunday, January 17
My family (minus Ate, who had a wedding to attend to that day) went out early for Pope's departure from the Papal Nunciature going to his first event that day in my former school UST. Team Abangers ang labanan! Our game plan was not to go to the venues (because aside from not having special access, feel ko din late na kami as people were there night before palang). We eyed the streets where the Pope Mobile MIGHT pass.

One with the crowd! Nakakanerbyos! We arrived in Manila and decided to park in dad's former office for 10+ years, located in Zobel Roxas, Palanan. We walked from there. Streets were closed, everyone were game for the walkathon, plus I encountered lots of major throwbacks as we also passed by St. Scho and DLSU while walking to Quirino Avenue.

We waited for hours (as expected, so no complaints), while techie dad was monitoring the Pope's whereabouts through his handy phone radio. At around 8am, the Pope DID passed by Quirino Avenue... But inside a car! Then, the rain started to pour.

Listened to the UST happenings via our car radio (nakakaiyak!), while we were parked outside Jollibee Buendia (where we had brunch muna). We also took naps, and when I woke up and heard na Ama Namin na, halos tinulak na namin ni Mom si Dad para magising (haha!). Naaalala ko pa, parang rush hour na Amazing Race while we were snaking the streets of Manila to reach Quirino Avenue again, Tell The World Of His Love as background music.

A second-too-late. We were running in these streets coming from a random house where we parked our car. Kahit si mom napatakbo! Then we heard people walking in our direction telling us that "Tapos na! Nakadaan na siya." Mission 2, still failed! :p

The parentals joked "2-0 na tayo a!". Still found humor in this situation. Made me so glad I went with my family, sobrang GV lang.

LAST CHANCE, and I'm readeh! Rain did not show signs of stopping, and the whole time I wasn't even thinking about my not-so-waterproof jacket or my shoes, or the long walk that we have to go through again. I was thinking of the people in Luneta who were there since the night before, drenched while patiently waiting. I was thinking of Pope Francis and how tireless he looked in the TV or in photos, even with all his itineraries ever since he arrived in Sri Lanka.

Btw, there were network jams na that time, which I totally understood for the welfare of our Pope. It's good that they announced this naman na in advance. And so, pag may kailangan mag CR sa amin, antayan. Bawal magkawalaan, or may specific meet up point na kami in case. I also have to commend our police / MMDA who were there to keep everyone's safety and order. Cea and I were comparing them from our New York New Year's Eve experience with the NYPD, and in fairness di nagkakalayo! They guarded the streets of Vito Cruz where we can't walk na because it's super near na pala the nunciature. 

We parked near St. Scho na, a residential street with understanding and generous homeowners, and walked to Quirino by navigating Manila's side streets.

I have to say that even though Pope Mobile lang uli ang nakita namin here, skin-to-skin in Quirino Avenue, I learned a lot of things from this experience. The long walks gave me time to reflect.

1) Religion knows no social status, power, language, age, and color.

2) Be sensitive, help one another. There was a time while walking back to our car, and it was still raining, we saw a lady in her 30s na nakasampa na sa wall, lips almost black. We can't just walk away from her, I saw mom stopped and called for my dad. He assisted the lady to a nearby bench, while other people stopped to offer her food and water. Dad gave the lady reflexology as first aid. Nakaka warm ng heart to see my parents this way, my own role models.

3) Family is everything. The greatest love the world has known. This experience, with Pope's words, strengthened our bond. It was great to be there, but BEST to be there with my mom, dad, and sister.

Rainbow raincoats, like cloaks and religious habits, filled UST, Grandstand, and the streets of Manila last Sunday. During our 3 waits with no Internet to entertain me, I will look at random people's faces, each with different longing and hurts and hopeful eyes filled with dreams. And although soaking, it felt good to be there. God, it's good to be alive!

DAY 5: Monday, January 18
The next day, and still tired and feeling a little bit under the water from the rains during our Sunday adventure (vitamin C pa more!), the parentals asked us if we wanted to join them in their human barricade task again at NAIA 4, this time, to say good bye to the Pope. 

Sun was just about to rise while we were waiting in Jollibee--ang new place-to-be, haha!

At around 6am, they closed the roads already. Wrong outfit ako that day, coz unlike last Sunday's downpour, the Pope's last day in the country gave nothing by sunshine and warmth.

Kumpleto na ang family ngayon! We were stationed in a good spot, right in front of our parents the human barricade! Plus, nakakapanibago ang crowd, not even half of Quirino Avenue. We were guessing that most of the people were in Manila / near the nunciature.

At around 8am, travelers and tourists were stuck na with us. Heard some of them say that it's fine, taking out their phones and also anticipated for the Pope.

I really need to detox coz I think napasobra ako sa junk for the past days just to fight my antok. Speaking of pagod at antok, heard dad talking with some of the police in front of us, na sila mismo still excited. AND pwede naman daw nila iwan station nila to go to the CR, haha! Although "bawal" sila to turnaround and look at the Pope para mas bantay sarado ang crowd, "sumusulyap padin po kami". 

Street kids looking for a slot in the crowd, we let them in front of us near the barricade coz they're too small to see from our back. Nakakatawa I was teaching them the "heart" sign para pag daan ni Pope, may paandar babay kami. Ang cute tignan when they followed!

We then heard helicopters (our signal that the Pope is near the vicinity), and then, parang memorize ko na bilang abanger, motorcycles lead the pack, followed by a pick-up with a video camera pointing towards the entourage. Then an ambulance, and several police vehicles with the men in black.... People were screaming, hands waved, phones were up in the air....

And there he is! Our beloved Pope Francis, like a ray of sunshine. :) 

Pa-joke lang, but we planned this during the long hours we were seated in the streets waiting, na sa luwag ng kalsada pwede kaming tumakbo pag daan ng Pope Mobile. It took a few seconds to catch our breaths, a few more seconds of processing, and then a few seconds of delayed reaction when Pope's entourage passed by us, nung naalala kong isigaw "Takbo!". And on cue, we ran and we ran. As if we had enough sleep that night, as if we were fit and like kids again. With the street children, we ran to the Pope in our last and final attempt to see him in the country...


  1. HAAAAY <3 The things we do for love! Ito ang thank You, Lord moment!!! <3

    1. Glad to share this with you few days ago in UCC, enjoyed talking about the Pope experience with a friend :)

  2. Guess what?! As I was reading towards the end of your post and finally you saw Pope Francis, I got goosebumps! Haha! I also have to agree na namemorize na natin ang entourage ni Pope. Funny because while reading alam ko rin ung next car na sasabihin mo! Certified team abangers! Haha! We're really so lucky to have this once in a lifetime experience. For me, it's more than just seeing the Pope. It's actually seeing and feeling the Lord's presence. :)

    1. Waaah! Thank you for reading Angela! Glad to share Pope experience stories with you last night! <3


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