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image source: rappler.com

image source: rappler.com

Joy and excitement enveloped MOA Arena as thousands of crowd wait for Pope Francis’ arrival for his Meeting with the Families Address. People rushed to the barricades from their seats, some stood on their chairs, hoping to get a glimpse of the pontiff. And so when the pope mobile arrived, cheers got even louder, hands were all up in the air and tears streamed down on some devotee’s faces. Then there I saw a man in white cassock and zucchetto wearing that sweetest smile ever, waving his hands at people. In a moment, I stood there, speechless, struck by unexplainable feeling I’ve never felt before.

“Do not lose this ability to dream with the family…” -Pope Francis

#36 on my Dreams List that I wrote last year is to meet Pope Francis. Eager to fulfill that dream, I took my chance and my family at Quirino Grandstand where the Papal Mass would be held. I was one of the millions of people who stayed there the night before the Mass.

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I was one of the millions of people who pushed their way past the scanner in Lapu-lapu Shrine all the way through the Grandstand.

image source: Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

An aerial shot of approximately 6-7 million crowd attended the Holy Mass led by Pope Francis surpassing the 4-million people who attended the Holy Mass of Pope John Paul II during the World Youth Day in 1995, January 18 (image source: Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines)

I almost cried when we were stuck near Rizal’s monument. It was so jampacked that I could hardly move and breathe. Some marshalls were pushing us so they could get in, others were shouting “Papasukin nyo na kami (Let us in!)” and one or two collapsed. It was crazy.

officialgazetteoftherepublicofthephil3

Since some of our food spilled when we were stuck and we aint got utensils and water because we were separated from our group, I was one of the millions of people who starved and thirst for hours.

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People at the quadrants near Quirino Grandstand used their ‘sapin’ to cover themselves from the rain

I saw children and old people shivered in the cold non-stop rain. At some point I asked God, “Do we really have to do this?”

image source: ph.news.yahoo.com

People gather at Tacloban Airport amid the storm to hear the Holy Mass led by Pope Francis (image source: ph.news.yahoo.com)

“We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life.”- Pope Francis

image source: rappler.com

12-year-old street kid Glyzelle Palomar gets a warm hug from the Pope. (source: rappler.com)

Then I remember the people in Tacloban, the brave little girl who broke down and asked the pope “Why does God allow children to suffer?”, the homeless, the abandoned, the parents who lost their child…These people’s suffering is a lot greater than mine and yet they strive to find joy and hope amid the storm in their lives…I may not have seen Pope Francis that close but I’ve met him in different faces of these people.

Maybe, some are wondering why millions of catholic faithful were so crazy about seeing the pontiff who’s just another human being. I, myself, am still wondering why he’s got that effect but maybe…well, for me, the catholics reaction is just normal and so human, I mean, come on he’s the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the whole world. We all know that he is not God but didn’t you get crazy too when Michael Jackson came here in the Philippines?

Pope Francis with Archbishop Cardinal Tagle greet the crowd "I Love You" in sign-language (source: nydailynews.com)

Pope Francis with Archbishop Cardinal Tagle greet the crowd “I Love You” in sign-language (source: nydailynews.com)

Jorge Mario Bergoglio or Pope Francis, is a leader who makes people, especially the most unfortunate ones, feel like real people. I really hope that the joy, hope, inspiration, mercy and compassion that we Filipinos experience during that 5-day papal visit will remain forever burning in our hearts.

image source: inquirer.net

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers after a mass in Tacloban, January 17. ( source: inquirer.net)

Thank you Pope Francis for giving so much joy, hope and inspiration in our country. You’re the sweetest and cutest pontiff ever! We’ll always pray for you. Te queremos! 😀

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