AMIDST the overwhelming emotion brought about by Pope Francis’ visit to the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, a handful of volunteers stood their ground to maintain calmness in an otherwise festive event.

As the general public filled the Quadricentennial Square with hopes of capturing a short glimpse of Pope Francis, Thomasian volunteers, comprised of students and faculty alike, sacrificed their own once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to help authorities create a three-layer “human barricade.”

“Malaking tulong talaga [ang Thomasian volunteers] kasi kung kami-kami lang baka nabuwag kami. Nasa kanila ‘yung first line of defense tapos nasa likod lang kami pino-protektahan sila,” PO3 Arthur Torricer said who came all the way from Ilocos Sur as part of the Region 1 contingent by the Philippine National Police.

With only a limited space designated for the general public, many of whom have camped outside the University as early as 5 p.m. the day before the Pope arrived, the usual foot traffic turned into a small skirmish as people from all over wanted a piece of the Supreme Pontiff.

“Hassle din kasi pinipigilan namin ‘yung crowd pero naiintindihan naman namin kung bakit ganoon ang reaksyon ng mga tao syempre ‘yung iba galling pa sa malayo para lang makita si Pope,” said Adriel David, a Medical Technology sophomore part of the volunteers assigned just behind the Main Building.

However, as soon as the popemobile made its way through the Quadricentennial Square and kissed a handful of children in their foreheads, many people settled down and allowed the surreal experience to take over, albeit only seeing Francis in a wide screen.

People started swelling up with sheer emotion and began waving their Santo Niño statues while some danced to the beat of “Papa Francisco.”

In a brief but crazy sequence, volunteers and authorities in charge of maintaining control found solace in the fact that everybody was blessed with the mere presence of Pope Francis.

“Masaya pa rin naman kahit nahirapan kami na pigilan ‘yung crowd, na-feel pa rin namin ‘yung presence niya [Pope Francis],” David said regarding his unique experience.

“At least naging inspirasyon si Pope sa lahat ng mga tao dito kasi ang hatid nga niya dito ‘peace’ dib asana mawala na lahat ng korupsyon dito sa atin,” Torricer said. Paul Kennedy A. Lintag


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