A sudden gust of wind may have blown away Pope Francis’ skull cap as soon as he deplaned upon his arrival in the Philippines from Sri Lanka, but to his delight it was replaced by the same gust of euphoric welcome given him by the multitude of ecstatic Filipinos, even as dusk was fast approaching.
Even to those just watching TV, the joyous experience of seeing the man and the pontiff could not help but cheer and feel goose bumps about his aura of amiability and benevolence worthy of the papacy and leader of the over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics of the world.
The pope’s arrival signaled a good omen because even as it was predicted by the weather forecasters that it could rain on the day he lands because of typhoon Amang, it didn’t, and it added to the gaiety of the occasion even as the church bells tolled nationwide to welcome him.
The highlight of the Pope’s visit will be a huge open air Mass in Manila and a visit to Tacloban to meet survivors of the devastating super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, with many still struggling to this day. He is scheduled to have an intimate lunch with 30 typhoon survivors.
Francis visit to Tacloban and meeting victims of the calamities that befall the country is his way of telling both church and state to show mercy and compassion.
Coming from the pope who chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the poor, it is his awareness that so much has to be done in uplifting the lives of the poor that he is making ‘mercy and compassion’ his personal crusade.
Hopefully, Francis’ 5-day visit to this country will enlighten Filipinos with his words of wisdom and acts of love and charity making us responsible people living for a better Philippines.