City rising from storm ready for Pope
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—For the past few days, Eric de Leon has been feeling butterflies in his stomach.
“I’m excited but at the same time nervous,” said De Leon, 36.
De Leon will sing the Responsorial Psalm in Waray during Pope Francis’ open-air Mass at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport here, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people and watched by millions of others on TV and the Internet.
How De Leon feels could mirror the general sentiment of people in the city that has yet to fully rise on its feet following the devastation by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
De Leon, an employee of the city government, said singing the Psalm during the Pope’s Mass would be his way of thanking God for saving him and his family at the height of Yolanda.
The Mass, to be held at the apron of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport here, would have a local flavor.
Waray, the Leyte dialect, would be used in parts of the Mass.
Other Yolanda survivors would have key roles during the historic Mass, according to Fr. Gilbert Urbina, chair of the commission on liturgy of the Palo Archdiocese.
One of them would be a woman, who survived Yolanda but lost 11 family members. She would read a passage in the Bible as first reading.
De Leon, a wedding singer, had been given the task of singing the Psalm’s response—your words, Lord, are spirit and life—with a 250-member choir.
Aside from Waray, parts of the Mass would be in Cebuano, Hiligaynon and English.
De Leon, a wedding singer, said being chosen to sing the Psalm was a surprise for him.
The Mass would be attended by 30 bishops and 500 priests from churches in the provinces of Samar, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Bohol, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Biliran and Cebu.
“We’re ready,” said Melvin Corpin, head of the choir composed of members of smaller choirs from eight parishes in the Archdiocese of Palo.
“On a scale of one to 10, we’re 10 in terms of being prepared,” he said.
A 70-piece orchestra would accompany the choir.
The liturgical hymns are mostly in Waray because Pope Francis wanted the songs in the local dialect to be understood by a majority of those who would attend the Mass, said Corpin.
“The Pope wants the people to join in singing the songs during the Mass. He doesn’t want the choir to do it alone,” he said.
Among the songs he composed and would be used during the Mass were “Ha Imo La (Yours Alone),” “Lamrag (Light)”, “Halad Ko (My Offering)” and “An Dios Gud La (God Alone).”
The choir is also practicing songs in Latin like “Ave Verum Corpus” and “Panis Angelicus.” They would also sing “We Are All God’s Children,” a composition of Jamie Rivera, and “Amigo (Friend),” which Corpin said is among the Pope’s favorites.
At least 14,000 barricades that are 1.2 meters tall are now at the Mass site, which could accommodate up to 150,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of others, however, are expected to be in the Mass site’s fringes.
Rolando Asis, public works regional director for Eastern Visayas, said at least P75 million was spent on the preparations. With a report from Carine Asutilla, Inquirer Visayas
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