Pope Francis arrives to a painless, smooth reception in Manila
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Even though foreigners think we’re crazy (so I’ve heard), I think it’s great that President Aquino gave us non-working holidays to enjoy Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines.
I woke up to a household of boys destroying my bedroom until (thank God) Markus decided they would swim at the condo and eat at Pepper Lunch. Peace & quiet.
When they came back, that was my cue to go to Megamall to pick up some “odds and ends” (as Tito Rocky used to say).
Made sure I was home by 5 PM to watch the Pope’s arrival on TV.

I have vague memories of being at the airport when Pope John Paul II visited 20 years ago.
Life was easier then. There were less Filipinos and somehow we had connections. I think I went with my Tita.
The reason I am sure I was there instead of watching his arrival on TV, is because I distinctly remember picking a fight with the security guard who told me I was not allowed to bring my water inside the premises.
The guard told me to dump my water. It made me so mad because back then, I didn’t know the connection between liquids and bomb making.
I remember being among the school children doing their mechanical dance moves as the Pope arrived.
I wrote about it in my newspaper column in 1995 but I don’t have a copy.

This is how the Pope looked when he arrived in Sri Lanka a few days ago.

Pope Francis

No offence, but he looked kind of miserable. The event was painful to watch. It was so long, sober, and boring with the military fanfare and 21-gun salute.
I’m so thankful the Filipino welcome was much, much easier and warmer than that.
Minutes before the Pope arrived, there was a countdown on the ANC screen. For us, it was a family affair, with all the boys and I watching TV from the bed.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

I started to cry. Seriously. Painful tears. I think it has something to do with my eye makeup or foundation, cause my crying stings. I was just overflowing with emotions. At that moment I envied everybody at Villamor Airbase.
Soon I could hear Herve Villechaize saying, “De plane! De plane!”

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

The Pope landed safely in a Sri Lankan Airbus. As they taxied, two flags were waved from the cockpit.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila
Pope Francis arrives in Manila

At last we could see the Pope from the window and wondered what was taking so long. Somebody tweeted he was probably just following captain’s orders: “Your Holiness, the seatbelt sign is still on.”

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

A few officials entered the plane before the Pope came out and cuteness happened.

Eek, somebody forgot to brief the President about the ring kissing.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

One thing I can say, the Pope looked really, really happy. Much happier than his arrival at Sri Lanka (no offence).
I think it’s great that God granted us great weather, not just for the Pope but for everybody waiting and in the days to come. (I’ve been asking God to make this weather permanent for the entire year, possibly forever. Think of its positive effects on tourism and local fashion.)

Overall I think everyone did a great job. What they expected to be a three-hour trip from arrival to nunciature (where Pope is staying) turned out to be a painless 37 minutes.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

Thank God for the painless welcome ceremony

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

A brief stopover somewhere at Villamor

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

So festive, well-planned, and safely arriving at the nunciature

PS. Thank God no epals at the airport.
Good job to everyone involved. We’re proud of you.

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