Not even rains can stop pilgrims from seeing Pope Francis in Tacloban
TACLOBAN CITY — Not even the rain could stop the pilgrims from going to the Daniel Romualdez Airport here where Pope Francis will hold his mass Saturday.
Celine Bondoc, 40, is among the dozens of pilgrims who have started to arrive in the airport as early as 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The entrance to the mass venue is at 6 p.m.
She said they will stay overnight for a rosary vigil even though the rain has started to fall over Tacloban a day before the pope’s mass.
“Sa pananalig sa Diyos (Faith in the Lord),” Conde, dressed in a shower cap to keep her dry, said when asked why she braved the rain.
“Bihira naman eh. Siya nga, gusto pa rin pumunta rito (This is a rare opportunity. He (Pope Francis) wants to come here),” she added.
Conde said she would like to say her prayers of thanks to the Pope for keeping them safe during Supertyphoon Yolanda’s onslaught.
She said she was almost killed as a coconut tree almost fell on her when she was fleeing.
“Pasasalamat lang. Ano pa ang Tacloban, napakaswerte po na pupunta siya rito (Just to thank him. Tacloban is so lucky because the pope is going to visit it),” Conde said.
Tacloban saw much destruction in the typhoon’s onslaught. A coastal city, it was flattened by monster storm surges during Yolanda. At least 2,474 were killed, according to the official registered death count. Initially, police feared at least 10,000 dead in Tacloban alone.
Leyte, where Pope Francis is expected to visit storm victim survivors on Saturday, is placed under signal number 1. Tacloban is the Leyte capital where the Supreme Pontiff will hold mass.
This is due to Tropical Storm Amang (International name: Mekkhala) which slowed down on its way to Eastern Visayas, a stop in the five-day Philippine visit of Pope Francis, the country’s weather bureau said.
Pope Francis on Jan 17 will first visit Tacloban and say Mass at the airport before proceeding to Palo to bless the Pope Francis Center. He will then to go to the Palo Cathedral to light a candle on the mass grave of those who perished when Yolanda struck.
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