Record Breaking Six Million Crowd Shows Up On Pope Francis Final Holy Mass At The Quirino Grandstand

Despite the rains, large groups of people troop to Quirino Grandstand to attend Pope Francis last Holy Mass in his Philippine papal visit.


Photo Credit: Rappler.com

A record breaking six million crowds were in attendance although the actual number may climbed to over 7 million of eager faces including those on the streets who cannot make passed to the grandstand. This is by far the largest papal crowd to date - bigger than Pope John Paul II,1995 World Youth Day celebration, here in the same very spot.

Photo: screen grabbed from Vatican TV

Ofcourse, I want to be a part of the celebration. Pope Francis grins and smiles are too contagious not to be affected.

Pope Francis mass will be the first time I'll be attending in a year, the last one was on February when I went home (province) simply because I had to accompany my mother, lol.

I'm not a religious person, matter of fact I'm in the mode like I'm in defection with my religion, lol. Seriously speaking - I hate what I am seeing with those people who called themselves religious. Aside from going to the church, pray for another bountiful harvest or thanking previously hauled blessings. I don't think they even eternalized what they have heard on every homilies or read on the bible. They were the most selfish of people, if you ask me. They were the first to turn their back when helping is required. Where is God in that?

PRACTISE WHAT YOU PREACH!

I'm sure the Pope is seeing the same thing and the reality that the world is no longer cared about each other - even his own flocks. That's why he's trying to fill-in and putting back the pieces. As what on his papal visit theme, Mercy and Compassion.
He wasn't very particular on the traditional ways on how the church has been practising for ages. He's trying to break away from the norm to get closer to the heart of the new generations. The generations far from the generation build back in 2000 B.C. Generation very far from David. We can no longer rely on a book whose practices dates back from the by gone eras. A lot of changes that it needs new approach to connect with the heart and pshyche of the new generation. I think that's what the Pope is doing right now. He's the Pope who wasn't afraid to be identified having a chat with some riligious leaders of different beliefs. Talks with radicals and any kind of peoples.
In short - in a way, somewhat I have restored my faith but not totally (translated 1% is restored - not bad, lol). I admired Pope Francis, he's one of the few people that I like which by the way or apparently includes the president of Uruguay. Can you connect the dot? Lol.

At exactly ten in the morning yesterday, I went my way to heads for Quirino grandstand. I knew the mass will start at 3:30PM but with the expected huge crowd I might as well go early incase incovenience may experienced along the way (oh a lot, too many to mention, lol) as not to missed the mass. The rains wasn't stopping since early in the morning and from the looks of it, it won't stop any minute of the day. So I'm expecting a rain all through out the day. I put on my jacket, I'm not bringing an umbrella, I heard days before that umbrella is one of the un-welcome items in the venue for security reason.

Just as I went out of the gate (home), drops of rain start forming a dots on my jacket. It's absorbent, 100% cotton (lol), the kind of jacket I'm usually wearing when at work to shield from a cold temperature room. So I decided to dropped at the nearest Shopwise to look for a raincoat - it's sold out. I have to climbed over a footbridge for the adjacent mall. It's raincoat is limited to a jacket type (meaning only half of your body will be covered) with a fabric similar to a tafitta but it's water proof. I have no choice but to get one, it cost me almost five hundred grans damn, lol.

I found a jeepney routes to Welcome Rotonda, I knew the street farther is already blocked due to Pope's meeting with the youth and religious leaders at the UST (University of Santo Tomas). From there, I walked - it's still raining. It's eleven in the morning. A giant screen showing Pope's activity is installed at the corner of Blumentritt and Espana. The street through-out is lined with items for sale bearing Pope images or foods from Kakanin, Dogtags, T-shirts, caps, button pins, rosaries, calendars, and a foldable fans which is a bad idea on this kind of weather.
Volumes of people upon the approach of UST waiting for the Popemobile can be seen and you cannot get through it if you want to passed making your way to Quiapo. I have to slithered my way inside the bulks of people, actually to try my luck if I can make it to the other side - I'm not lucky, damn - it's locked, good thing it wasn't hot or else superpower of beyond imagination (lol) will be everywhere although there are some (ocassionally) with bad breath (eewww), some are with annoying hair that smells of a scalp (lol, double eeeeww) slapping your face (I wish I had a pair of scissors with me, lol) everytime they heard that a popemobile is approaching. Any standing objects that can be climbed for a better viewing is occupied regardless of the gender, matter of fact there are more women on top - either a tree or the the wall.
Also what I find really amazing is that there are actually older people and kids in the groups. I can't imagine with that crowd, not to mention the bad weather? I myself, was really having a hard time, that I thought I have brought all the inconvenience in the world (lol). But after seeing them - okay, fine - actually I can manage more, bring me another inconvenience! Haha.
The farthest that I can get myself through is the UST's Gate 1, and in the middle of people. I can't even see Espana for that matter, when the Popemobile finally passed by, the only way to peek is through the cellphones or tablets being raised by those who also want to take that moment for Pope's glimpse.
Few more minutes of wait to make sure that the Pope has left the vicinity that the blocked Espana was opened, time for Alay Lakad to the grandstand. As you can see, the Lerma underpass going to Quiapo is lovely as a playground.
A mass is about to be finished when we passed Quiapo church, I just took a photos and continue walking. As we climbed Quezon bridge, a crippled beggar positioned himself at the center of the bridge. Your lucky, this bridge is closed for public vehicles, (in my thought - lol, like he will ever be there if it's open). I handed him a 20 peso bill to his delight. He should be, the usual generous someone would just give him 5 pesos. I just happened to have a bigger heart (lol, ako na).
Then we were locked out (again) after getting through the Lagusnilad. The good thing, I came alone as always - better be alone than trying to please others with the discomfort they may have brought or for their approvals.

I roamed around to find the best way to get near the grandstand. I was taken to Eva Macapagal Road, I was starving. I spotted a Shakey's on the other side, so I went for food and I was about to pee. There's a lot qeueing on the entrance door. I noticed lots are on the waiting list - dined in customers, so I decided to ask the ushers for a 'take-out' order. Lo and behold, he let me enter, I grabbed the menu book while falling in the next line to use the comfort room. People are everywhere my gosh, lol. The comfort room supposed to be according to gender but they opened it as gender free CR - meaning anyone can use whether you're a male or female. I was next to the two old women who happened to be qeueing in a men's CR but it's okay because there were more men on the other side lining for the girl CR, lol.

After peeing and taking my order I went back to where I came from - the crowd, to look for those selling that metallic blanket you can spread on the ground, it's like an aluminum foil but it looks like it's sold out because you can also use it as a shield to the rain. Oh the demand is so high. I'm so tired from walking I just want to sit but everywhere is wet.

I decided to go the other way via Port Area, it's quite a distance so I took a de padyak for Php30 and dropped at BIR, I used to work in this area when the nearest Singer Sewing Machine Company office still in operation. It's now a junk shop, how sad. I found great friends here.

Used to be Singer Sewing Machine Company, Philippine head office

I was carrying a bag from my takeout order and it making me uncomfortable, walking along with me were a mother and daughters in raincoats, the mother was with an image of Sto. Nino on her grasp. I approached them and gave the bigger box from the plastic bag I was carrying, it's a Shakey's Chicken solo pack (with 3-pieces chicken and mojos) although I love the chicken, the thought of discomfort of eating while walking crossed my mind, so I just keep the other box - a box of mojos. The mother thanks me and I continue my walking while started dipping the mojos to eat.
Again, we were locked out after reaching Manila Hotel. I was near the Chinese Firetruck and medic on the other side. One woman beside me has a TV on her mobile. She was like, "Oh he's now entering Luneta", referring to the Pope. Her cellphone is facing directly to me, I was at her back, lol. Then I noticed the brand, it's a Cherry Mobile (lol). Hmm, I think I want a Cherry Mobile, my portable TV is now starting to be useless, lol.

Again the Pope passes by without seeing him in the face. There are some GoPro in the crowd, I wish I had one - oh I really need a GoPro this time lol. Then, I spotted a group who's trying to passed a cordoned area, I followed them, they looks like VIPs of sort, someone who could get through with mere intimidation, I was following them. Guess what? I am also a VIP, I was able to passed - then I leaned over from behind and they closed it again. Yipee!

I was getting nearer to the grandstand, my eyes was quick on who's to follow. I followed every potential people who can get passed the restricted area, lol. See the benefit of being alone? I positioned myself to the nearest kubol where paramedic are housed, from the looks of their uniform they where from Red Cross. Then a young lady trying to fixed the line when it resulted to a small space, that one can enter - the nearest guy without further ado, immediately enter, another one followed. I followed too, lol. Guess what happened next? Yes, I'm in again haha. I can hear the young lady saying that the spot is only limited to medics. Oh don't worry, I know how to perform a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation - ofcourse in my mind.

I was inside the Quirino Grandstand before the mass started. It's still raining non-stop.
The mass was solemn with Pope divine message. In his homily since Philippine is celebrating the feast of Sto. Nino (Holy Child) he cited from the book of Mark, chapter 10 on how Jesus embraces children. And that we too need to see each child as gift to be welcomed and protected. We need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned a life of the street. It's like he's asking the authority (government) to give importance on erradicating poverty, so no children will be seen in the street.
Erik Santos responsorial song made me goosebumps. He has a voice of an angel and the 1000-man choirs are enchanting. But it was when Bishop Soc Villegas and Cardinal Luis Tagle spoke its words of appreciation to the Pope that made me to tears - well, atleast. It was a moving moment that the Pope himself is nearly in tears.

After the mass, for the last time before he heads home to the nunciature house he roamed around the grandstand for the last glimpse of eager people who want to see him in the flesh.
At six in the evening he was finally out of Quirino grandstand and it was the only time that entrances or exits were opened. Half of my body was soaking wet, my shoes in mud and my legs were sore from standing and walking.

While walking heading Quiapo, I overheard a child complaining to the mother how tired and feeling cold she was. The mother answer, "it's okay, you see we have received blessings - did you see those eyes when he faces us and smiles? That's because he blesses us."

As I have told you, I am not a religious person but seeing the human side of the people is a great relief. Yes, humanity is still there - it just need a motivator to be opened.

And Pope Francis is the MOTIVATOR.

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