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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.