Who will join Pope Francis for lunch in Leyte?
MANILA, Philippines—The Archdiocese of Palo, which spiritually serves most of the places hardest-hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, promises to be fair in selecting survivors who will join Pope Francis for lunch during his visit to the area on January 17. One man who lost his entire family will sit right next to the Pope.
According to Fr. Cris Militante, media coordinator for the papal visit to Palo and Tacloban, the archdiocese’s Relief and Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) was trying its best to choose survivors of not only Yolanda but other calamities as well to make the group truly representative.
Cebu and Bohol, which were devastated by an earthquake a month before Yolanda struck, are also expected to send representatives to the lunch.
Militante said the archdiocese was in the process of identifying the would-be “papal lunch mates.”
“At the moment we are still in process of selection.… We are constantly in touch with our RRU regarding the progress of selection,” the priest said in a post on the papalvisit.ph website.
According to Militante, as many as 30 individuals will enjoy the company of the pontiff during the meal.
Archbishop John Du of Palo said earlier that the Holy Father wants to be with the poor and those afflicted by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
“He will be sitting side by side with poor people. Simple food will be served and there will be no VIPs. If possible, the Pope wants to stay away from the big people, the VIPs,” Du said in a previous interview.
Du added that the group who will dine with the Pope will include five people from northern Cebu, five Boholanos while the rest would be from Leyte.
Yolanda devastated the Visayan region on Nov. 8 last year, killing some 6,300 people with 1,060 others still missing. The typhoon damaged property and public structures worth more than P25 billion.
Tacloban was the hardest hit area. Bohol, on the other hand, was hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on October 15 last year, which killed at least 200 people.
Du said one person in Leyte “lost all his loved ones in the supertyphoon.”
“He was the only survivor and he will stay right beside the Pope so he will be reminded that he’s not alone, that the Pope may be able to comfort him,” Du said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways is repairing the Quirino Grandstand in time for the papal visit.
DPWH National Capital Region director Reynaldo Tagudando said the agency has allocated P20 million for the renovation of the grandstand where Francis will say Mass on January 18.
The Luneta Mass will formally conclude the Pope’s apostolic visit to the country. He flies back to Rome the following day.
Up to six million people are expected to attend the Luneta Mass.
Tagudando said additional seats would be installed but these could be removed after the Mass.
The DPWH is also sprucing up restrooms below the stage and the holding areas.
“As of now, repairs and renovation are 30 to 40 percent complete, including painting, repair of damaged ceiling and electrical cables, plumbing, among others,” he said.
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