HOURS before the arrival of Pope Francis in the Philippines, last-minute preparations are underway for the Pontiff’s five-day apostolic and state visit.

Pope Francis is expected to arrive at 5:45 this afternoon, Jan. 15, at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. He will be welcomed at by Church and government officials including President Benigno Aquino III.

The Pope’s seven-hour flight will be arriving from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chairman of the papal visit arrival and departure committee, said 1,200 young people would welcome Pope Francis with “vibrant music and dance.”

The young people from different schools throughout the nation will be performing a series of dances that will highlight the culture of the people from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Mercado said 200 young people will be performing the “Sayaw ng Pagbati” or “Bati-bati,” a ritual dancing in Parañaque that is usually performed during the Easter Sunday.

The Pope’s arrival will also feature two street children who will offer flowers to the Pope, as a sign of Filipino hospitality. The two street children are nine-year-old Lanie Ortillo and 10-year-old Michaelangelo Bartolas.

Originally from Tondo, Ortillo and Bartolas currently live at Tuloy Foundation, a village for street kids founded by Fr. Rocky Evangelista of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

A motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature in Taft, Manila—the Pope’s official residence in the country—will follow.

Pope Francis will be riding one of three popemobiles. All three popemobiles are open and accessible to the public as requested by the Pope himself.

Pope Francis will exit the Villamor Air Base at Gate 5 and will proceed with the motorcade.

The motorcade will pass by Andrews Avenue, Domestic Road, NAIA Road, Roxas Boulevard, Quirino Avenue, and Taft Avenue before arriving at the nunciature, or the Vatican embassy.

In a press briefing last Monday, Jan. 12, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government wanted the Pope to be “visible and accessible” while ensuring safety and security during the visit.

“All that is practicable is being done, in order to fulfill the objective of making His Holiness, the Pope, visible and accessible, and so we can feel his physical presence during his visit,” Coloma said. Arianne F. Merez, with reports from Angeli Mae S. Cantillana


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