Did you meet the Pope?

 

 

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My parents arrived in Manila the night after the Pope did. On the ride home from the airport, my Mom asked me, “So will you meet the Pope?” My Mom thinks I am as famous as Oprah or Kris Aquino. She doesn’t live here. She is, of course, my biggest fan. “Mom, how could I meet the Pope? I don’t even have passes to any of the scheduled Masses.” Then she said, “I don’t know. You have many friends. You’re in media. The government. The church. Fr. Dennis. Your dad’s Air Force friends.” I remembered why I didn’t ask anyone for tickets or passes. I told my Mom, “Pope Francis is not like that. He’s not about using privilege and connections. He’s here to see the people who suffered during Yolanda.”

 

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I spent the first three days of Pope Francis’ visit glued to the TV screen watching and listening to him. I must have freaked out my kids because one minute I’m sobbing when his plane lands, then I’m laughing between tears when his beanie cap gets blown by the wind. I listened to all his homilies and speeches with tears in my eyes. Touched by every single one of them.

 

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The events in Tacloban did it for me — the storm, the pilgrims in raincoats, the survivors, the Pope’s silence, the unfortunate death of Kristel and the crash/mishap. I wanted to see the Pope, even for a split second.

 

I had no means of getting ID’s or passes to get close to the Pope. I didn’t use my contacts in media, church, government and military. I just wanted to go out and catch a glimpse of him in the motorcade along his route. My husband couldn’t come with me. He’s a journalist and he was manning the fort in his station. My Facebook feed was starting to fill with Pope sightings from privileged friends who found their way in to ticketed events. I wanted my own Pope story. I have never seen a Pope in person.

 

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Luckily, my cousin Joan had plans, and more importantly she had the will to go Pope-stalking. In photo: my cousin John and his wife Sheila, Joan and her friends Jeanne, Hazel, TJ and Joan’s husband Ace. This was at the first corner we found in Quirino on the wrong side of the street.

 

Our strategy was simple – find the best site where the Pope will surely pass. Our goal was not to go to Luneta. We didn’t have IDs for it and the periphery would be too crowded. TJ had a Cherry mobile phone with a TV and monitored the morning UST events. We knew Luneta would just be jam-packed, so we didn’t even try to get near it.

It was raining the entire time. We parked our car in Harrison Plaza then walked along Quirino Avenue as close as we could to the Nunciature. We didn’t actually go near the Nunciature because it was too crowded.

 

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We found space in the elevated planter island on the middle of Quirino Avenue. We knew that eventually he’d have to pass Quirino Ave to get to Luneta. So from 10:30am to 3:00pm, we sat under the rain using just a raincoat and some plastic garbage bags lining the muddy ground. For almost five hours, the rain didn’t stop. But we didn’t move from our spot. We didn’t eat or drink.

 

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The road was still relatively empty. There were some moments we doubted ourselves. What if they changed his route? Where were the cops and the human barricade? But we didn’t move. We were determined to wait it out.

 

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That weekend coincided with the feast of Santo Nino.

 

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Around 1pm the PNP troops started to come to our area. That’s when we knew for sure that we were in the right spot. The mood along the motorcade route was celebratory. Even the cops were in a light and friendly mood. People shared food with them. We gave them water.

 

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The PNP-issued rain capes were cool. Unfortunately not all the troops got raincoats. Some had to wear garbage bags.

 

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It was by far one of the most illogical things I’ve ever done — to wait in the rain for 5 hours with no umbrella. We were told via news media not to bring umbrellas. We sat on plastic garbage bags directly on top of soil, so after about an hour, the mud started to seep into our “seats”. We got up and stood the rest of the time. Mud seeped in to my shoes. But none of us complained. And the wait didn’t seem that long at all. It was fun being there. People were kind and funny. There was a man who was the town-know-it-all, a pushy old woman who was oblivious to danger, and children who didn’t whine or complain. Ang saya! It’s more meaningful in Tagalog.

 

By now you have read hundreds of Pope encounters. I will say what everyone has said. The feeling was electric. My hands and legs were shaking. In the few seconds that he was in our (unobstructed) line of vision, he was facing our direction and waved his hand in a blessing gesture. I saw his wonderful smile and his eyes… I will never forget. I lost my composure – tears, screaming, jumping. My cousin and I settled ourselves into a big hug and cried to each other.

 

A video posted by DAPHNE® (@daphneop) on

 

 

 

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After seeing Pope Francis. Drenched but so happy.

 

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After five hours in the rain, no rainwear is totally waterproof. I wore two layers – a hooded raincoat from Uniqlo and a thicker navy coat from Muji.

 

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We had to get back to Harrison Plaza from Quirino/Taft. On our walk back, we found a pedicab and asked him to take us.

 

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My feet were soaking in mud inside my Toms. It was the end of my favourite pair of Toms. I bought rubber flip flops and alcogel at Bench Harrison Plaza.

 

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Here’s our pedicab cyclist. Everybody happy.

 

I know that the Pope is just a man. He is not God. We do not worship him. But we like him a lot. He has been able to spread the word of Jesus in the most attainable and understandable way. He’s shown compassion and goodness. And we like good stuff.

The whole experience was amazing. It was an incredible feeling being with the people and walking the streets of Manila in the rain. I got to see my Pope without VIP connections, special ID’s or privileges. We just waited patiently, and he came. It wasn’t so much about seeing him than it was about being together. In the eyes of God, we are all equal — rich or poor, sick or healthy, good or bad. Of course now, I wish the world would just be like that… no poverty, no corruption, no inequality, no suffering. But that’s all up to us now.

 

“Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be afraid of surprises. They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction.” — Pope Francis, UST Jan 18, 2015.

 

 

Leave a comment

  • Joyce Marquez

    What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. We tried to see the Pope but got stuck in UST. My hubby is under the weather at the time and we weren’t able to switch locations. So thankful for the extensive media coverage. Like you, all his Homilies touched me in a very deep way. We are so blessed to experience his presence in our lifetime.

  • Joan Baraquia Calderon

    such an inspiration and humble person.. beauty, brains and everything! love you :*

    • Anonymous

      too kind. thank you.

  • Karla F. Santos

    I have no shame. Hahaha. I tried to ask for tickets. It was our 10th wedding anniversary and I was this close to writing the Vatican and beg. Hahaha. I just asked an Aunt who asked around. I know she had connections and two days before she was able to get me tickets to MOA on Jan 16 (our anniversary date) but in the outside parking area. I didnt mind. Then I found out they were first row in one of the quadrants and I really saw him up close. But we still waited for about 5 hours in our seats. Loved his speech at MOA too.

    Despite that, we also tried to wait at Roxas (with our daughters) for a Pope sighting and my husband and I attended mass at the vicinity of Luneta, in front of a screen, under the rain. Loved the experience, still. Im still on a Papal-high.

    He is a Pope of our time, who understands the needs of the people now.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Loved it :)

    • Anonymous

      Hi Karla. It’s great that you got tickets to MOA. I didn’t mean to belittle those who got tickets. It’s all a gift. Not a privilege. So happy for you that you got to experience all that. And yes, the gentle rain and cool temp made that Sunday even more surreal.

      • Karla F. Santos

        Oh yes. Its the best anniversary gift, really. And the timing was best as the MOA event was directed to families, couples, and we are currently building and strengthening our own family.

        And that aunt, who actually helps the Church and all, would also probably have connections if she wanted to, didnt even get tickets for herself (she must love me a lot, hehe). She also patiently waited at the sidelines. All worth it too. :)

        • Anonymous

          :)

  • Marjorie Pepito Pais

    Exactly what I felt Ms. Daphne. Was glued on Twitter since he arrived until I decided to just forget my plans of working overtime during his stay. Was so moved by his sincerity and compassion. Cried many times, especially during the Tacloban visit. With all the controversies that our church is facing here, it’s soo good to hear him, see, and feel his presence.

  • Mieke Zamora-Mackay

    Daphne, your post brought me to tears. When I saw your pictures on FB, I didn’t think of the fact that you weren’t at any of the ticketed events, until you mentioned that you didn’t use your contacts. I appreciate the humility you exercised. I hope the people of the Philippines are as moved as you. I am, and that’s all the way from here.

    • Anonymous

      Many people were moved. I hope the feeling stays. And that it converts into action. We need a lot of kindness in this world.

  • Valerie Caulin

    You are such a wonderful person Daphne. I just read another blog post, and there is big difference on how you view the whole experience. I like the positivity of your post. May God continue to pour you unlimited blessings!

    • Anonymous

      Just telling it like its is. It was such a great experience.

      I think even if I didn’t go out, I’d still feel so blessed and inspired. But the going out in the rain bit and being with people was just really amazing.

  • Tanya T. Lara

    Awesome experience for you and your friends! Was so moved by his visit and I was just watching on TV!

    • Anonymous

      I would have been moved just the same if I stayed home. The going out part just added a different dimension — about him being here for the people.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing.

  • mjurado1hk

    Another beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

  • fl

    Your post on the Pope’s visit highlights not just the Pope’s God-given charisma but also your very own humility. Another so-called ‘celebrity’ blogger’s post on the Pope was narcissistic, whiny, and condescending. You mingled with the ‘masa’ and did not complain unlike this other ‘stariray’ blogger who somehow felt miffed and even afraid in the midst of the common people. You, however, took the endless wait, the ceaseless rain, the mud, the crowds, etc.. in stride. May the heavens continue to bless you with bountiful graces!