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3 POPEMOBILES READY FOR POPE'S ARRIVAL


The popemobile is driven during preparations ahead of Pope Francis holy mass at the Galle Face Green in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. Less than a week after its longtime president was surprisingly voted out of office, Sri Lanka welcomes Pope Francis on Tuesday, with the island nation’s Catholic minority hoping he can help heal the lingering wounds of the country's 25-year civil war. AP/Eranga Jayawardena MANILA JANUARY 12, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Patricia Lourdes Viray - Three popemobiles will be used for the five-day visit of Pope Francis in the country.
Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the three popemobiles are ready to ensure that the Pontiff's trip will not be disrupted in case a vehicle gets broken. The Pope will use a Kia popemobile from South Korea, an Isuzu popemobile and a jeepney-type popemobile made in the Philippines. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pope Francis asks prayers for Sri Lanka, Philippines visit


Pope Francis delivers his speech as he celebrates a Mass at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel as part of an annual tradition, this year repeating an invitation to mothers to nurse their babies if crying out of hunger. For the first time in his pontificate, Francis celebrated Mass with his back to the faithful, according to the rites before the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. AP/L'Osservatore Romano, pool
MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis requested for prayers for his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Three days to go, Church bells all ove the nation to peal for Pope; route readiness, security tested today


POPE’S SOLDIERS — Part of the 12,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines contingent tasked to secure Pope Francis muster at Camp Aguinaldo grounds yesterday where they received blessings and words of inspiration from a military chaplain. Right, workers install the nation’s colors alongside Vatican Flags along the papal convoy route. (KJ Rosales and Linus G. Escandor II) ---Church bells will simultaneously peal on Thursday, January 15 to welcome Pope Francis in the country, but today security and readiness of the route of the papal convoy will be tested by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in a simulation drill that will involve thousands of police, soldiers, and volunteers. The dry run of the papal convoy will start at 6 p.m. from Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue in Manila, said MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pulsating welcome for Pope Francis


PHOTO: Ready for Pope Duty officers and men of the armed Forces of the Philippines pray during the mustering of troops for the joint Task Force Pope in Camp aguinaldo in Quezon City as the military starts to implement security operations to secure Pope Francis. Photo by Miguel de Guzman, Pontiff may draw bigger crowd than Pope John Paul II Pope Francis will immerse himself in some of Asia’s most fervent Catholicism during a trip to the Philippines and Sri Lanka starting Tuesday, with millions of devotees set to turn out.The Argentinian pontiff with a man-of-the-people reputation could attract one of the biggest gatherings ever for a pope during an open-air Mass in the Philippine capital of Manila.The January 18 event may draw up to six million people, offering a pulsating example of Asia’s status as a dynamic growth region for the Catholic Church—but also creating a security nightmare. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Manila Standard Editorial: Divine intervention not the answer


IT WAS a little sad to learn that a lawmaker felt he had to write Pope Francis to seek his help in pushing the country’s agrarian reform program forward amid strong opposition from the rich, land-owning members of Congress. The letter, from Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, chairman of the House committee on agrarian reform, suggests a measure of desperation—or a cheap publicity gimmick timed with the Pope’s coming visit this week.
Neither of those possibilities is all too appealing. “I write to you partly with a sense of despair as I seek your prayers for the poor and landless farmers and indigenous peoples in the Philippines,” said Baguilat in his letter to the Pope. “More specifically, I beseech your support for the continuation and completion of agrarian reform in our country.”  READ FULL EDITORIAL...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

3 popemobiles ready for Pope Francis' arrival


The popemobile is driven during preparations ahead of Pope Francis holy mass at the Galle Face Green in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. Less than a week after its longtime president was surprisingly voted out of office, Sri Lanka welcomes Pope Francis on Tuesday, with the island nation’s Catholic minority hoping he can help heal the lingering wounds of the country's 25-year civil war. AP/Eranga Jayawardena

MANILA JANUARY 12, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Patricia Lourdes Viray - Three popemobiles will be used for the five-day visit of Pope Francis in the country.

Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the three popemobiles are ready to ensure that the Pontiff's trip will not be disrupted in case a vehicle gets broken.

The Pope will use a Kia popemobile from South Korea, an Isuzu popemobile and a jeepney-type popemobile made in the Philippines.

“The Popemobiles are according to specifications of the Vatican, visible for all and accessible for the Holy Father to go down and meet our people," CBCP Committee on Transportation on the Papal Visit chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said.

The Isuzu popemobile will be used to welcome the Pope from Villamor Air Base on January 15.

The Pope will use the same vehicle when he goes to Malacañang, Manila Cathedral and SM Mall of Asia Arena on January 16.

On January 17, Pope Francis will ride a Kia World Youth Day Popemobile on his visit to Tacloban City.

The jeepney popemobile will be used when the Pope goes to the Quirino Grandstand on January 18.

“We are much preparing for everything, very prayerful for this grace-filled event. The Holy Father is blessing our country with God's mercy and compassion,” Santos said.


FROM PHILSTAR

Pope Francis asks prayers for Sri Lanka, Philippines visit By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated January 12, 2015 - 11:37am 1 8 googleplus0 0


Pope Francis delivers his speech as he celebrates a Mass at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel as part of an annual tradition, this year repeating an invitation to mothers to nurse their babies if crying out of hunger. For the first time in his pontificate, Francis celebrated Mass with his back to the faithful, according to the rites before the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. AP/L'Osservatore Romano, pool

MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis requested for prayers for his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

"I would like to ask you to please accompany me with prayer. I'd also like to ask the Sri Lankans and the Filipinos who are here in Rome to pray especially for me and this trip," Pope Francis said during the Angelus prayer at the Vatican.

The Pope is scheduled to leave the Vatican on Monday night for Sri Lanka.

He is expected to arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Tuesday to canonize a priest named Joseph Vaz.

Pope Francis is also set to have an inter-religious dialogue, poverty and the environment.

On January 15, the Pope will arrive in Manila and stay in the country until January 19.

The Pope will hold activities for victims of typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Three days to go Church bells to peal for Pope; route readiness, security tested today by Leslie Ann G. Aquino. Anna Liza Villas Alvaren & Christina I. Hermoso January 12, 2015 (updated) Share this:


POPE’S SOLDIERS — Part of the 12,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines contingent tasked to secure Pope Francis muster at Camp Aguinaldo grounds yesterday where they received blessings and words of inspiration from a military chaplain. Right, workers install the nation’s colors alongside Vatican Flags along the papal convoy route. (KJ Rosales and Linus G. Escandor II)

Church bells will simultaneously peal on Thursday, January 15 to welcome Pope Francis in the country, but today security and readiness of the route of the papal convoy will be tested by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in a simulation drill that will involve thousands of police, soldiers, and volunteers.

The dry run of the papal convoy will start at 6 p.m. from Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue in Manila, said MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino.

“It is going to be an actual simulation of Pope Francis’ arrival from the airport, going to Andrews Avenue, then to Roxas Boulevard, going to Quirino, and to the papal residence,” Tolentino said.

He appealed for understanding from motorists who will be affected by the dry run.

“This is the only time when our security experts can evaluate the preparations being done for the papal visit. We have to ensure the security and safety of the pope. We appeal to those going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and domestic airport, who will be affected by the dry run, to come early if they have flights before 6 p.m.,” he said.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, January 15, from Sri Lanka at 5:45 p.m. at the Villamor Airbase.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas asked bishops and priests that “all church bells all over the Philippines be pealed simultaneously” when Pope Francis arrives for his Apostolic and State Visit on said day at 5:45 pm.

In a statement, the CBCP president said the ringing of bells will be “a symbolic gesture of welcome to the Holy Father.”

Villegas said it is also a call for “the people who are unable to see him personally to at least pray for the Pope for the duration of his Philippine Visit.”

PAPAL CONVOY SIMULATION

From the Villamore Airbase, the Papal entourage will pass Andrews Road (westbound), Domestic Airport Road, Park and Fly area, Roxas Boulevard (southbound), Quirino Avenue up to Taft Avenue where the Apostolic Nunciature, Pope’s official residence, is located.

The dress rehearsal will be led by the Presidential Security Group, Philippine National Police (PNP), and Vatican security members.

During the dry run, someone will act as pope and there will be a replica of the pope mobile.

The PNP, the biggest contingent of security forces deployed for the Papal visit on January 15-19, will be on its highest alert level beginning today with their uniformed personnel conducting a walk-through of the routes of the Pope along Roxas Boulevard.

“We also want to test the capacity of the closed circuit television cameras while security experts can evaluate adjustments needed in the actual travel speed of the papal convoy,” Tolentino said.

Appealing for understanding, Tolentino urged the public to follow the measures the government had put in place to secure the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.

“We advise passengers catching a flight make it to the airport by 3 pm,” said Tolentino.

This early, concrete barriers have been erected along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard and other roads where Pope Francis would pass.

The MMDA officials have also set security and traffic related plans for the Pope Visit who is set to visit the Manila Cathedral, the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Manila.

On January 15, Tolentino said identified roads will be closed three hours before the Pope’s motorcade passes while while public utility vehicles (PUVs) will be rerouted.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said a “walkthrough” of the papal events was also carried out by concerned Cabinet members and other government officials at the Palace yesterday.

“A walkthrough inside the Malacañang grounds was held to finalize the preparations for the meeting between President Aquino and Pope Francis on Friday, January 16,” Coloma said in Filipino over government radio.

“The walkthrough was attended by cabinet members and other government officials in order to ensure an orderly, organized and smooth flow of events inside Malacañang that will be attended by senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps,” he added.

Coloma also called on the public to practice discipline and cooperate with the government to ensure the peaceful and successful visit of the Pope.

“Our appeal is directed to the people who will attend the mass in Luneta as well Tacloban where thousands of the Catholic faithful will participate. In large gatherings, there is a big chance that any small commotion may lead to stampede,” Coloma said in Filipino.

The Palace official also asked the people who want to watch the motorcade and see the Pope to maintain order. “Let us not push each other. Let us remain calm when we hear loud voices or unusual noise. Ushers and marshals will provide guidance so let us follow them,” he said.

SPIRITUAL PREPARATION FIRST

At the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where Pope Francis will visit on Sunday, a campus official reminded the public to first “spiritually prepare” themselves for the historic event.

Associate Professor Giovanna Fontanilla, the director of the UST Office of Public Affairs, made the remark during an interview at her office at UST in Manila, on Saturday afternoon.

“We will just have to remind the public that there is also a need for a spiritual preparation. That event is a spiritual event.

Fontanilla said that although there will be no mass during the Pope’s visit at the university, the general public and members of the Thomasian community who wish to take part in the momentous occasion will be able to listen to the Holy Father’s message to youth representatives from the Archdiocesan Commission on the Youth (AYC), Episcopal Commission on the Youth (ECY), Catholic Educational Association (CEAP), and Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines (ACUP) and the youth participants of the 2nd Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE).

Fontanilla said that the Pope’s visit to UST could also be used as a celebration of one’s faith.

“We should also have the spirit of gratitude and consider the event a moment of celebration. Because imagine our young people will be meeting the Holy Father. They will receive the blessing and eventually that will result in the renewal of lives, deepening of faith. So let it be a moment of celebration of our faith. A moment also of celebrating the promise of hope that we pin on our young people,” she said.

NO SMOKING PLEASE

Various health advocates, meanwhile, made a call to the Catholic faithful to abstain from smoking when they participate in public religious events that will be attended by Pope Francis.

“We are appealing to all smokers not to light up during any of these public events in reverence to the Holy Father and in consideration to the massive crowd including children who may be exposed to second-hand smoke, ‘’ New Vois of the Philippines (NVAP) President Emer Rojas said.

Wanted: 5,000 volunteers

The University of Santo Tomas is still looking for 5,000 Thomasian student-volunteers who will form a human barricade during the visit of Pope Francis in the university on January 18.

In an interview with the Varsitarian, the university’s highly acclaimed official student publication, Evelyn Songco, assistant to the rector for student affairs, said UST will be needing 10,000 student-volunteers, but only 5,000 had committed so far as of Wednesday.

Hence, Songco said the cut-off for accepting student-volunteers is extended until Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The human barricade will also be composed of around 200 university faculty and support staff.

The encounter of the Holy Father with the youth as well as the meeting with religious leaders will take place at UST.

She said students will be prohibited from entering the campus from Jan. 15 as the Manila city government already suspended classes and government work from Jan. 15 to 19.

However, Thomasian papal volunteers and cluster leaders would be allowed to stay overnight at designated buildings like the Tan Yan Kee Student Center, St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, the Benavides high school building, and St. Martin de Porres Building.

GROUND ARRANGEMENTS

In the General Advisory for the papal event issued by UST, the university reminded the public that there are no tickets for the gathering.

The young people that are participants to the Encounter with the Holy Father were asked to occupy the Football Field and that Gates 5 and 6 will designated for them.

Gates 10 and 11 are assigned for the General Public while the gates assigned for the members of the Thomasian community are Gates 1, 2, 3 and 14.

THE GATES WILL OPEN AT 4 A.M.

Based on the guidelines set by the Presidential Security Group and the Philippine National Police, the following streets shall be closed to vehicular traffic: from Welcome Rotonda to Morayta St., from Dimasalang to Nagtahan Bridge, from Dapitan (Dapitan Sports Complex) to Lacson St., from Piy Margal to Dos Castillas St., and the stretch of P. Noval from Dapitan St. to España Blvd.

The streets that will serve as drop off points are Andalucia St. corner Laon-Laan St., España St. corner Morayta St., Lacson St. corner Dimasalang St., and España Blvd. corner Blumentritt St. (With a report from Genalyn Kabiling)


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Pulsating welcome for Pope Francis January 11, 2015 11:36 pm


Ready for Pope Duty officers and men of the armed Forces of the Philippines pray during the mustering of troops for the joint Task Force Pope in Camp aguinaldo in Quezon City as the military starts to implement security operations to secure Pope Francis. Photo by Miguel de Guzman

Pontiff may draw bigger crowd than Pope John Paul II

Pope Francis will immerse himself in some of Asia’s most fervent Catholicism during a trip to the Philippines and Sri Lanka starting Tuesday, with millions of devotees set to turn out.

The Argentinian pontiff with a man-of-the-people reputation could attract one of the biggest gatherings ever for a pope during an open-air Mass in the Philippine capital of Manila.

The January 18 event may draw up to six million people, offering a pulsating example of Asia’s status as a dynamic growth region for the Catholic Church—but also creating a security nightmare.

The pope’s trip, which begins in Sri Lanka, comes just five months after he visited South Korea, signaling the huge importance the Vatican places on Asia and its potential for more followers.

“This second trip to Asia . . . is a message in itself for this great continent. It is necessary to have the pope return to this important part of the world,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said as the 78-year-old pontiff prepared for the week-long visit.

In Sri Lanka, the pope will preach reconciliation as the majority Buddhist nation of 20 million people continues to endure ethnic conflict after the end in 2009 of nearly four decades of civil war that pitted separatist Tamils against Sinhalese.

During his two-night stay, the pope will visit a church that sheltered refugees from across the religious and ethnic divide during the civil war, and which has a 450-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary.

The centerpiece of the visit will be a public Mass on the sea front in the capital of Colombo, which is expected to attract one million Catholics and followers of other religions.

Sri Lanka has a sizeable Catholic minority of about 1.5 million—but it is when Francis reaches the Philippines on Thursday that he can expect to feel the most vibrant and colorful forces of the region’s Catholic faith.

The Philippines is one of the Church’s modern success stories, counting roughly 80 percent of the former Spanish colony’s 100 million people as Catholics, which has helped to offset waning influence in Europe and the United States.

Anticipation has been building for months ahead of his trip—the fourth papal visit to the Philippines—with the pope dominating the media, billboards and sparking a merchandise frenzy.

“I’m excited, because this pope’s focus is on the poor,” said human resources manager Renita Terciano, 50, who has booked hotel rooms near the Manila papal Mass park venue for her family so they can attend the event.

If the crowd is as big as expected, it could surpass the estimated five million people who turned up for a Mass by Pope John Paul II at the same venue in 1995. That event is regarded as the biggest ever gathering to see a pontiff.

Church officials say the pope’s visit is also a “mercy and compassion” trip to meet survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which claimed 7,350 lives when it destroyed entire farming and fishing communities in poor areas of central Philippines in 2013.

The pope will spend Saturday in Tacloban, one of the worst-hit cities, and nearby areas. He is due to give a Mass to tens of thousands of typhoon survivors at Tacloban airport, and have a private lunch with a small group of others.

Erlinda Suyom, 30, who lost her two children and her home near Tacloban to tsunami-like waves, said she would dearly love to meet the pope.

“I would like to ask for his guidance. I also want to tell him to ask God to ensure that my son and daughter are happy in heaven,” Suyom told Agence France-Presse.

Security will be a major issue throughout the pontiff’s Asia trip, but Philippine Church officials have said he will not travel in a bulletproof “popemobile” because he wants to be closer to his flock.
Philippine authorities have said they are deploying nearly 40,000 security personnel in one of the nation’s biggest ever security operations.

“We are doing everything humanly possible to secure the safety of the pope,” Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters, while stressing authorities had not detected any specific threat.


EDITORIAL FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Divine intervention not the answer By Manila Standard Today | Jan. 12, 2015 at 12:01am

IT WAS a little sad to learn that a lawmaker felt he had to write Pope Francis to seek his help in pushing the country’s agrarian reform program forward amid strong opposition from the rich, land-owning members of Congress. The letter, from Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, chairman of the House committee on agrarian reform, suggests a measure of desperation—or a cheap publicity gimmick timed with the Pope’s coming visit this week.

Neither of those possibilities is all too appealing.

“I write to you partly with a sense of despair as I seek your prayers for the poor and landless farmers and indigenous peoples in the Philippines,” said Baguilat in his letter to the Pope.

“More specifically, I beseech your support for the continuation and completion of agrarian reform in our country.”

“Despite their hard labor to feed the Filipino nation, farmers receive a measly compensation to reward their efforts. Indigenous peoples are worse off, with their ancestral lands threatened to be taken from them by mining or agricultural plantations,” Baguilat continued.

“I am aware that you have many concerns in leading the Catholic faithful across the world, but the dire situation of the Filipino poor, especially the farmers and indigenous peoples, calls for your kind intercession. I therefore hope that you will pray for the triumph of justice in the Philippines through the successful completion of our agrarian reform program,” Baguilat said.

It is clear from his letter that Baguilat hopes that the pontiff, faced with so many pressing, competing needs from the faithful all over the world, will find his way to praying for our farmers, and the success of the agrarian reform program. It is unclear, however, what other “support” Baugilat hopes the Pope can give, saying only that it would give impetus to efforts to help landless farmers.

Given the nature of his request, it is hardly a surprise that Baguilat’s appeal to the Pope drew support from farmers, workers at the Department of Agrarian Reform and Catholic leaders, including the bishops.

But there is something off-putting about a legislator, elected to a secular position of responsibility, seeking divine intervention to address a national problem that should be solved by political will and hard work.

Will some other congressman now seek papal intervention to address the plight of street children, the low wages of the working class, or incompetence and corruption in the government? The suggestion is absurd—but sadly, one congressman has already opened that door.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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