by Marc Jayson Cayabyab for Inquirer.net | 12:15 AM, Friday, January 16th, 2015
Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net
PALO, Leyte—Bells of the Palo Cathedral pealed late Thursday afternoon as soon as Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines.
As the bells rang, survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” cheered while they watched the Pope’s arrival through a projector beside the cathedral.
Against the backdrop of the setting sun, around 100 typhoon survivors gathered around the projector showing the papal plane’s arrival at Villamor Airbase in Metro Manila at 5:32 p.m.
While there was much euphoria among the survivors, they laughed when winds blew the Supreme Pontiff’s papal skullcap as he emerged from the plane.
They again laughed as the Pope’s mantle blew over his face.
“Nakakatawa. Paglabas niya nilipad agad yung sumbrero niya,” Jean Celis said between fits of laughter.
These scenes of laughter provided reprieve to the residents of this town, which saw much destruction in the typhoon’s onslaught. Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon to hit land, claimed over 6,300 lives when it hit central Philippines in November 2013.
The survivors’ reactions in seeing Pope Francis on the projected screen provided a first look on the storm victims’ feelings toward the Pope, who is expected to arrive here on Jan 17.
“No words” was how Ma. Guillerma Gonzales, 67, described the feeling of seeing Pope Francis arrive.
“Parang hindi namin ma-explain. Nadala kami. We’re very happy,” the retired teacher from Palompon, Leyte, said.
Jeoff Papom, 10, was very happy he would experience seeing the Pope so early in his lifetime.
He said he wanted to show the Pope a letter he wrote which says: “Dear Pope Francis. I really want to see you personally.”
“Masayang masaya kasi nandito na siya sa Pilipinas… Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya dahil tinulungan niya lahat ng tao dito sa Tacloban,” the 10-year-old boy said.
Pope Francis 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.