Pope Francis in Manila 2015

Pope Francis finally landed in Manila late this afternoon. I caught his arrival on CNN. President Aquino was there to welcome him and so 80 million of us Filipinos.

I am not planning to watch him in person. I know how it is going to be like already. I’ll just watch his TV coverage. I know one of these days I’ll see him live.

I have seen Pope John Paul in person. Twice. The first time in early 80’s when he went to Cebu. I was still living in Cebu at that time and I was with my Mom and my Aunties waiting in the streets. The crowd in early 80’s is different from the crowd now. It has tripled. Or even more.

The second time I saw Pope John Paul was in Vatican City in 1997 when we went to Rome. Actually it was an accident. I did not expect that we would be able to see him that day. It just so happened that when we decided to tour Vatican City it was on a Wednesday. And every Wednesday Pope John Paul would have an audience with the people. He officiated the mass in front of St. Peter’s Basilica and after that he rode his Pope mobile and went around.

It’s so happened also that we were seated near the aisle were the Pope mobile will pass. Vinny and I got a very good glimpse of him. I saw him and I cried. He looked so Holy. It felt like I saw God and my tears just started falling. Everyone around me were all crying.

I’ll never forget when Pope John Paul came to Manila in early ’90’s, although I didn’t get to see him in person. Vito was barely a year old at that time and he was just starting to talk. Yaya Norma taught him to say “Papa”.  Yaya Norma said: “Mam, tingnan mo si Vito marunong ng magsalita.” I said, “sige nga tingnan natin.”

Then Yaya Norma goes: “Vito, viva il…” and Vito answered: “Papa!” And he would clap his hands.

Oh, god si Yaya talaga. The whole day that was the only thing I heard from the two of them.

I would want to see Pope Francis one day. I like him.

There is something about him. His sincere smile.

He’s real.

Pope Francis, I’ll see you in Vatican. In front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Soon. Very, very soon.

Pope Francis waves to the crowd next to President Aquino upon his arrival at Villamor Air Base in Manila

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