Non-Catholics in Leyte look forward to papal visit

by PNA | FRI, JAN 16, 2015 12:14 AM


TACLOBAN CITY, Jan. 15 (PNA) — Not only Roman Catholics are thrilled over Pope Francis’ visit in Leyte, but Christians of other denominations as well.

Ricardo Aban, Tacloban stake president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also known as the Mormon Church, said that the visit of Pope Francis in the Archdiocese of Palo is something that should not be missed by the people.

Under his watch are about 5,000 LDS members in this city and the towns of Palo, Tanauan, and Alang-alang in Leyte; and Basey, Samar.

Pope Francis’ arrival this Saturday is something that could uplift the spirit of people especially those that suffer so much from the recent disasters that struck Eastern Visayas.

Even though they don’t agree on some teachings, Aban stressed that they honor people who preach God’s words because they are trying to help people grow spiritually.

He said that if he would be given a chance, he will attend the mass of Pope Francis at the airport as he would like to listen to what Pope Francis would say, knowing that the leader of the Catholic Church is known for his great wisdom.

“Being in front of the pope and listen to what he says is a way of educating and learning from him,” Aban shared.

LDS Church has been forging humanitarian response ties in different countries, including the Philippines in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.

One example is the partnership with the Catholic Relief Services, a Catholic humanitarian organization that benefited hundreds of homeless typhoon victims in Leyte.

Like Aban, Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin, a Protestant bible minister raised by his Roman Catholic parents, is also excited to see Pope Francis in Leyte.

The presence of Pope Francis is needed by the city, said Yaokasin as it fulfills the theme of his visit,

“Mercy and Compassion.”

With the Pope’s visit in Leyte, Yaokasin expects that devotees will renew their faith, revive their hopes, and rekindle love for each other.

“Him being here is truly to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ, which is to be with the poor,” Yaokasin stressed.

Fr. Chrispo Salinas, a priest at the Antioquian Orthodox Congregation under the Archdiocese of Australia is also eager to see the pope.

But instead of going to the open air mass at the DZR airport, Salinas will be at the Palo Cathedral where Pope Francis will have an audience with religious groups, family of typhoon Yolanda survivors and collaborators of the Archdiocese of Palo.

“His visit brings great blessing and inspiration for typhoon Yolanda survivors,” said Salinas, adding that he is thrilled with this opportunity to see and meet the highest leader of Roman Catholics.

This is an inspiration as this will bring men closer to God after the possibility that some of those who suffer so much during typhoon Yolanda had lost their faith, he added.

In Eastern Visayas, the Orthodox religion has an active congregation in Burauen town.

Unlike any other religion, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic are much the same as they also believe in the Holy Trinity, Mary and the saints, according to him.

In the outdoor mass of Pope Francis at the DZR airport, 60 members of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation will attend.

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, information and social communication director of the Archdiocese of Palo, said that “all are invited” to join the large religious gathering.

“The visit of the Pope to our place is for all of us. He wants to reach out to all,” Alvero added. (PNA)

2000 children to serenade Pope in Palo

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Bert Malate | Published 10:00 PM, Jan 15, 2015, Updated 10:00 PM, Jan 15, 2015


The kids, who study at different elementary schools in Palo, were handpicked and had to practice daily for this once-in-a-lifetime event


PALO, Leyte — Thousands of children will sing for Pope Francis when he arrives in Palo on Saturday, January 17.

At the end of the 11.5-kilomoter stretch of the pontiff’s motorcade from Tacloban to Palo will be a choir composed of at least two thousand children. They will serenade the papal motorcade by the wayside near the Palo cathedral.

The choral ensemble will sing a song of both Latin and English lyrics entitled “Amare et sevire” which means “In everything love and serve the Lord.”

These kids study at different elementary schools in Palo. Their teachers handpicked then and gave them voice assignments. Each division had to practice in their own school with a CD copy of the song with accompaniment and vocals. They finally gathered last week as a choir for daily practice.

PRACTICE FOR THE POPE. Kids from all over Palo rehearse the songs they will perform for Pope Francis when he visits Palo on January 17. Photo by Bert Malate/Rappler

“I am both excited because this is the first time a huge choir composed of kids is formed in Palo and challenged because I am tasked to make them all sound good,” says Mr. Giles Edgar Daya, the musical director of the ad hoc choir.

The kids will wear white shirts and pants. The boys will wear a scarf around the neck and the girls will put on flower headdresses. The choir will be situated on the right roadside of the Palo Municipal Hall where a riser has been prepared.

‘Mounting a choral ensemble composed of kids is not an easy task’, says Daya.

The elementary teachers in Palo and the artistic directors behind the Kasadyaan Festival of Leyte, such as Mr. Roland Calleja, Mr. Danny Lerios and Mr. Raul Novillo, who also made the musical arrangement, were in-charge of pulling off this grand production.

“Amare et sevire” is a personal pick of Palo Mayor Remedios ‘Matin’ Petilla and is actually a chant taken from the school anthem of Ateneo de Iloilo – Sta. Maria Catholic School. A longer version of the anthem is composed by Fr Manoling Francisco, SJ. —

Bert Malate is a Rappler Mover from Leyte.

Pope Francis ‘very impressed’ by Filipinos’ passionate welcome

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January 15, 2015 8:08pm


An estimated 800,000 to a million Filipinos gathered between Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila on Thursday to offer Pope Francis a welcome that only the lone predominantly Catholic country in Asia could give.
Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, the director of the Vatican Press Office, said the Filipino faithful did not at all disappoint.Wire agency Agence France-Presse described the Filipino reception as “rapturous.”
“The Pope was very impressed,” Lombardi said in a news conference at the Vatican Media Center, a short distance away from the Pope’s official residence in Manila.
“The first encounter of the Pope [with the Filipino people] was very impressive, important, and touching,” he added.
Aside from the welcoming party at the air base and the crowd that gathered in front of the nunciature, Filipinos lined the route of the papal motorcade to give the 78-year-old pontiff an ardent receptiion.Lawyer Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority and a member of the organizing committee of the papal visit, said the agency estimate of the people that gathered was between 800,000 to a million.
President Benigno Aquino III and members of the Cabinet received Pope Francis at Villamor Air Base late Thursday afternoon.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and other prelates were also at the airbase to welcome the pontiff.
Students from various Catholic schools in Parañaque performed three dances to welcome the Pope at the airbase.Church bells tolled

It was the beginning of a five-day trip in the Catholic Church’s Asian heartland that is tipped to attract a world-record papal crowd.
Church bells tolled across the former Spanish colony as the charismatic pontiff flew into the capital of Manila after a successful visit to Sri Lanka.
Francis smiled as he looked out the window of his plane upon touchdown, greeted by the sight of hundreds of children on the tarmac chanting “Welcome Pope Francis!” and “We love you, Pope Francis!”
Francis has said his two-nation tour is aimed at adding momentum to the Church’s already impressive growth in Asia, with its support in the Philippines the benchmark for the rest of the region.
Eighty percent of the former Spanish colony’s 100 million people practise a famously fervent brand of Catholicism, and the pope is set to enjoy thunderously enthusiastic crowds throughout his stay.
“Every step he makes, every car ride he takes, every moment he stays with us is precious for us,” Villegas said as he called on all Filipinos to make an effort to see him.
Hundreds of thousands of people crowded the route the pope passed as he made a 35-minute trip in a “popemobile” from the airport to the Vatican’s embassy to rest overnight.
The pope stood on the back of the vehicle, which had no walls, waving and smiling constantly to the crowd.
“It’s a blessing to see the pope. That’s why we’re here,” school teacher Jeannie Blesado, 35, told AFP.
Personally comfort Yolanda survivors
Pope Francis has several engagements in Manila but Church leaders said the Holy Father’s main intention was to personally comfort the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte.Yolanda, which hit Central Philippines in November 2013, was the strongest typhoon on record to ever make landfall.
More than 40,000 policemen and soldiers are deployed different areas to secure the Holy Father during his five-day stay in the country.
This is the first time that Pope Francis visited the Philippines, and Southeast Asia since taking the helm of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.
The 78-year-old charismatic pontiff went to Sri Lanka for a three-day visit, to kick off his Asian tour, before coming to the Philippines.
The first Jesuit Pope who hailed from Argentina gave Sri Lanka its first saint, Catholic priest Joseph Vaz, who led he rebuilding of the Church in the country during he 17th and 18th centuries after the Dutch declared Calvinism as the official religion.
The 266th Pope of the Catholic Church is expected to draw some six million people in an open air Mass on Sunday at Rizal Park in Manila. —with a report from Agence France Presse/NB/JST, GMA News

Pinoy-fronted UK band to perform on Pope visit to Leyte

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Leyte kids hope to play football in front of Pope Francis

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Derek Alviola | Published 5:03 PM, Jan 15, 2015, Updated 6:32 PM, Jan 15, 2015


‘We hope to uplift the spirits of public school children in Leyte and provide them a message of hope through football’

PALO, LEYTE, Philippines — “Sana makita kami ni Santo Papa maglaro kasi malaking blessing yun para sa amin at para sa Tacloban,” said Jared Troy Reyes, a 12-year old boy who joined the Santo Papa Futbol Cup held Thursday, January 15 at the Bethel International School in Palo, Leyte.

(I wish Pope Francis can see us play because that is a big blessing for us and for the people of Tacloban.)

Ana Margarita Hontiveros of RTR Medical Foundation said this event is part of a larger psychosocial program for the victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“We hope to uplift the spirits of public school children in Leyte and provide them a message of hope through football,” she said.

Hontiveros added they hope that the children can capture the Pope’s attention through football during his motorcade.

“The kids will be wearing the colors of San Lorenzo FC, a professional football club in Argentina that is said to be supported by Pope Francis. We hope to get his attention through that.”

SAN LORENZO COLORS. Particpating kids and their trainers are excited to compete in the tournament. Photo by Derek Alviola/Rappler

Former Ambassador Roberto Mayorga of Chile revealed the children also prepared a Spanish chant that they will sing when the Pope passes through the Palo Cathedral.

“Papa amigo Tacloban esta contigo.”

(Pope, our friend, Tacloban is with you.)

Event organizer Jazz Nito shared with Rappler this video of the kids practicing the chant.

Five teams composed of 60 children from Leyte public schools are selected to compete in this two-day event as a side activity to the highly anticipated visit of Pope Francis in Leyte.

The Santo Papa Futbol Cup is led by Mission Tacloban, an organization created by the Doña Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foudation together with Team Socceroo Football Clup and the Henry V. Morgan Foundation.

It is also supported by the Energy Development Coroporation, PASAR Foundation and the Olympic Village. –