The 1/6M Experience


(image source)

I SAW Pope Francis. I was there at the grounds of Quirino Grandstand last Sunday. I’m proud to say I’ve been blessed to have an experience like this, maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity :>

I’ll start with the following:

  • Who? Sinu-sino ang mga nakita ko? Pope Francis, of course (not only once, but twice), Lucy Torres – Gomez, Mariz Umali & GMA News Crew, & thousands of people I met along the way.
  • What? What did I done there? Basically, I attend the Papal mass (more details below)
  • Where? Saan qko nakapwesto? That was two places; first was at the corner of Quirino Avenue & Roxas Boulevard, then at the Luneta Park (at the Tamaraw Statue to be exact)
  • When? Ilang oras qko tumagal dun? Approximately twelve hours (including my trip hours from our home in General Trias, Cavite to Manila)
  • How? How did I get there? Public vehicle ‘til Buendia Ave, then walking through the Roxas Blvd. ‘til I reached my destination. How did I feel? Aside from the ‘almost frozen feels’ that I felt during the mass, I have this unexplainable feeling inside, mahirap talagang ipaliwanag. Maybe it’s a form of gratefulness, I think?
  • Why? Why did I insist to go there? Though I know my uncle wouldn’t allow me to go alone? Simple because I want to see Papa Francis.

Now I will narrate what happened during my journey to the Pope

BEFORE PAPAL VISIT, months before perhaps, when I first heard about that news, that Pope Francis will visit the Philippines, I got excited, sabi ko baka mangyari muli yung mga pangyayari nung 1995 (it was World Youth Day celebration led by the late St. John Paul II, whose a pope that time) I really want to be in an event like that, to be one of the millions who celebrate with a pope. Habang papalapit na ng papalapit ang araw ng pagdating ni Papa Francis, unti-unti akong nawawalan ng pag-asa na Makita siya. What if I wouldn’t allow by my uncle to go to Manila? It’s very far. Wala akong kasamang nakatatanda (alam ko naming hindi ako sasamahan ni kuya pumunta dun e) Second thing, what if I don’t have enough money to go there? Days before the mass, I only like have less than a hundred peso in my wallet (im really poor :’<) asa pa akong bigyan ako ni kuya ng pera, well buti na lamang at nakuha ko na ang aking sweldo bago sumapit ang January 18, edi wow, may pamasahe nako 😀 isa pa, kakayanin ko kaya ang dami ng mga tao dun, alam kong milyun-milyon ang pupunta dun. Kinakatakot ko na baka magkaroon ng stampede. Paano kung mamatay ako dun? O kaya pano kung masagasaan ako sa mga kalsada ng Maynila?(Sorry I’m really a pessimistic person I mean it) Part of me says, it’s much better if you watch the mass on the television instead, you know, I will see Papa Francis’ face in close-up & in HD quality (oh wow!) than when I go to Luneta, I have no guarantee that I could get close to the altar. At home, I will be sit comfortably while the mass is ongoing, but there at Luneta? For sure I will stand all day. But the other part of me says, ‘’di bale nang mahirapan, atleast masayang memory ang kapalit’’, diba? Kumbaga yung pagpunta ko dun e ‘worthy’

So I decided I will go there. Nagpaalam ako kay kuya the night before and I’m glad that he allowed me! Yes! Nag-aalangan talaga ako nung una na baka di ako mapayagan e, pero ayun ^_^ since Pope fan din si kuya, pinayagan niya naman ako :3

SUNDAY MORNING. I prepare up my things. I woke up so early, maybe because of excitement. For hours I hardly thought of what will I bring there, but I end up bringing the following: money, phone, pen & notebook (I’m a journalist! Haha!), umbrella, raincoat, 2 plastic bags, extra pair of clothes, & towel, & I put them in an eco-bag (because backpacks aren’t allowed tho) I left home at the moment Papa Francis left the Apostolic Nunciature to go to UST (I guess that was about nine in the morning) so I haven’t watched what did he do there, sadly  after an hour I reached Coastal mall (minimal ang traffic) then I went to Baclaran. From there I saw many people, mostly families, who are heading the same way as mine – to Quirino Grandstand. I’m sad because I’m alone going there, while the people I see, they’re with they love ones (#ForeverAlone) then the Orange Cab brought us to Buendia Ave. from there I started to walk, that time the rain starts to fall, so I wore my raincoat on. While walking, I passed on through the famous establishments along the Roxas Blvd. such as Star City, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum, & etc. Since the road was closed, that major highway turned into an enormous sidewalk & parking space for cars. Along the way, I met many people, who came from different parts of Metro Manila & nearby provinces. Aside from them, different vendors are also scattered along the road. They sell varieties of food. What I see most is ‘Nilagang Mais’, it’s so abundant that everywhere I look, there’s mais. I saw also some Pope merch, which costs expensive than what I expected. Then napatigil ako nung nakita kong may nagkakagulo sa banda roon. May nagtitinda pala ng mga malalaking plastic bag – para sa mga tao na walang raincoat. Ang daming nabili, di magkamayaw, natataranta si kuya. Pero malaki ang benta niya dun, bente ba naman ang benta kada isa e.

Then I continue to walk until I stopped again at the corner of Roxas Blvd. & Quirino Ave. (that time I didn’t know that’s Quirino Ave.) I was wondering, why do some people standby there at the sidewalks & in the center island? Are they waiting for the Papal Convoy here? Somebody told me dun nga daw dadaan si Pope, e di naghintay na din ako, nung mga oras nay un wala pang mga police barricade, kaya maluwag pa. matagal akong naghintay, nakatayo ako sa bangketa ng ilang oras. Tapos kapag may dumadaan na pulis na nakamotor, naghihiyawan ang mga tao! Kasi akala nila yun na yung convoy, di pa pala. Tapos pala, habang naghihintay kami, dumaan sa harap naming si Lucy Torres! Grabe ang ganda-ganda niya, sabi nga nung katabi ko akala niya daw si Birheng Maria yun  medyo na-weirduhan lang ako sa umbrella niya, irregular ang shape. Habang lumilipas ang oras, palakas nang palakas ang ulan, padagdag nang padagdag ang tubig na naiipon sa kinatatayuan ko. Pero hindi na ako makakaalis pa, di nako makagalaw, masyado nang maraming tao. Hanggang sa dumating na yung mga pulis sa harap naming, naghiyawan ulit ang mga tao, ibig sabihin nun malapit na talaga si Pope. Eto pa, imbes na ‘Pope Francis’ ang isinisigaw ng mga tao, ang sinasabi nila e, ‘payong! Payong!’ kasi yung ibang nasa harapan, nagpapayong pa din, tuloy ay hindi na makikita nung nasa likuran yung daan. Nang magsimula na talagang dumaan ang convoy, naghiyawan na kaming lahat! Itinaas na ang lahat ng camera, at sa loob lamang nang napakaikling panahon (mga kalahating Segundo, ganun) dumaan sa harap naming lahat si Papa Francis! Kumaway siya samin! Ang saya saya ko! Halos isang metro lang ang layo niya sakin. Yung mga ngiti niya, kitang-kita ko! Success!


(image source)

After that split-second pope crossing, I hurriedly went to Luneta, my goal was I need to be in front of the Quirino Grandstand before the mass starts. But I can’t run, it’s too crowded. I walk & walk. By that time I started to feel so cold, so I stop for a while to drink coffee (yes, some vendors offers coffee, you will only choose what coffee brand do you want, e.g. Nescafe, Kopiko, Great Taste, etc. then they will prepare it & serve to you hot in a styrocup) well that costs P13.00, not bad. Then the mass starts, it’s earlier from what I expect, & I’m still in UN Ave. from there I see big screen televisions, with the live coverage of the mass, so I knew that was started already. There are some people who stay there, maybe they will watch, but I, didn’t stop. I really want to be in Quirino Grandstand, not only in front of a big TV, so I continue to walk until reached Luneta Park. I stood on the Tamaraw statue, from there I can see the altar, but in very far distance. As I stay there, I started to have Hypothermia. I’m literally shaking to cold. It was homily that time that I could not even focus on the mass. I bowed down my head, hugged my eco-bag, & cried. I don’t know if too much cold can kill me, but I’m scared, & I pray, “Lord please, I don’t want to die here. Hindi ko na kaya ang lamig, what would I do? How could I overcome this?’’ I’m so wet because of the non-stop rain, plus the cold breeze of the air, it makes me feel like I’m in the sea full of icebergs.

pagkatapos ng misa, nanginginig pa din ako nun, sinabi nung nagsasalita sa stage (idk who) na huwag daw muna aalis, sapagkat muling maglilibot si Papa Francis sa palibot ng Grandstand. nabuhayan ako ng loob. medyo lumipat ako sa magandang pwesto (dun mismo sa may gate banda) at ilang saglit pa, ayun! nasilayan ko nanaman muli si Pope! sa ikalawang pagkakataon. naiyak ako nun kasi sakto pagdaan niya, pinatutugtog ang isa sa mga paborito kong awit pang-misa, ang PANANAGUTAN. pagkatapos nun naging masigla na muli ako, di ko na masyadong dinamdam ang lamig. Iwinagayway ko ang aking panyo at sinasambit namin ang ‘Papa Francisco, mahal ng pilipino’ 🙂 at syempre yung Pope Wave 🙂

After nun, i try to go to the portalette, to change clothes, so that the cold I feel would be lessen, but the nearest one was inside of one of the quadrants of the grandstand, and that time the people are starting to go out of the grandstand, so i couldn’t go easily. I waited until almost all of the people left the Grandstand. When I got there, luckily there’s no waiting line, unlike earlier that the line was so long. I immediately went to one of the cubicles. Ang bantot –– & it’s so dark, so I have to open my phone’s light. _Pagkalabas ko ng portalette, sakto naming nakit ko yung tent kung nasaan sila Mariz Umali, mag-uulat sila. Pumwesto agad ako sa may likuran, nagbabaka-sakaling Makita ako sa telebisyon. Tinext ko pa yung mga kamag-anak ko na “ABANGAN NYO KO SA TV, DALI DALI!” at ilang saglit pa, bam! Nagreport na si Mariz, kaway kaway ako syempre! Pero pagkatapos nung report, nagtext sakin si Don Hae, payong ko lang daw yung nakita sa TV :/ aw ansaklap

Then after that short-TV umbrella exposure, I went back inside the grandstand, I go at the altar. Some people are still there, taking selfies. The orchestra, some priests, & etc., are still there. OMG, I got starstrucked when I see closely the altar. I touched the Papal Chair, the table, everything that was there  I’m so lucky, indeed!

(to be continued,, tinamad nako magsulat)


Photos by Rappler ☺ di po kasi waterproof yung phone ko, kaya di ko na dinala T_T

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