Sorry to lay this on you, but I’ve been feeling bad ever since the Pope left the country.
Not because I miss him but because I had a horrible time waiting for him outside Villamor Airbase.
Obviously it is not the Pope’s fault. I have only myself to blame because I went there on my own free will.
When I heard the Pope was coming to Manila, I wished and prayed with all my heart that I would get to see him, that by some miracle a ticket would land on my lap or I would get an invitation somewhere.
Since none of that happened, I knew on the last day I couldn’t let him leave without saying goodbye.
So the night before he left, my friends Patrice, Grace and I decided to take a chance.
Grace slept over and I didn’t. I spent the night thinking and praying in the dark.
At 3:30 AM we got up, showered, dressed and picked up Patrice.
We had a nice breakfast at a 24-hour McDonald’s before proceeding to Villamor Airbase.
At some point the road was closed, so we got dropped off in front of Resorts World and walked on mud to find a good vantage point.
Our poor shoes, covered in mud.
We were there at 5 AM and I didn’t know how a restless person like me could stand staying put for the next 4.5 hours. We brought stools, so luckily we could sit down. It was fairly spacious at 5 AM.
But as time passed, more people came and tried squeeze in front of us and we didn’t like that.
They pushed and made us feel bad by saying hurtful words, when we were just protecting our right to our space, having been there hours before them.
The whole exercise made me feel scared and bad. I felt unsafe among my countrymen. But I couldn’t walk away because my driver wasn’t there and I had friends. I closed my eyes and prayed for strength and patience.
Some people dared to cross the water, not us.
Despite all our efforts to protect our space, look at all the people that managed to squeeze in front of us.
Around 9:30 AM—four and a half hours later—Pope Francis passed by in the Pope mobile. He was a sight to behold in white. He really looked like an angel. I tried to capture it on camera but didn’t want to stop looking at him.
So the footage I got was really shaky—a total of three seconds.
Was it worth it? No. Because I was so scared the whole time trying to protect our spot from people who do not respect private space and who was there first.
If there were a crisis, like a war, a riot or a looting, I would not survive because I don’t have the strength or will to fight or steal.
After the Pope was out of sight, my friends and I walked to the Marriott Hotel. We were starving. Luckily there was a table for us at the buffet. Maybe I was just hungry or the food was really good!
Would I do it again? No. I would just watch it on TV. I was never good with large crowds. I don’t like crowded events. I don’t like queueing for hours. I’m just not built to last.
As my friend Miguel said, “Just go to the Vatican.”
Maybe I will. Or so I heard he is going to New York next year. But for now I am done chasing the Pope. I’m happy he was here, but I’m also glad it’s over. I’m so tired, exhausted and disappointed. I need to get my energy back and go to work.
P.S. I’m just thankful it didn’t rain on us. What the people in Tacloban, UST and Luneta went through—I can’t.
I do hope when the Pope blessed the crowd, it reached me, cause I sure need it. Thank you, Pope Francis.