Pope Vatican

Spend more than 6 hours in Visayas, Pope asked

Paterno Esmaquel II
Spend more than 6 hours in Visayas, Pope asked
Are accommodations the problem? Knowing the simple Pope Francis, a priest says, 'He doesn't need to be in a 5-star hotel.'

MANILA, Philippines – “Bakit puro Manila?” (Why is it mostly Manila?)

Fr Edu Gariguez, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), posed this question as he asked Pope Francis to spend more than 6 hours in typhoon-ravaged Leyte.

Quoted by CBCP News, reports said organizers have begun to prepare a 6-hour papal trip to Leyte on January 17, 2015. The schedule reportedly makes him spend the rest of his 5-day trip in Manila.

In an article by CBCP News on Wednesday, October 15, Gariguez said: “Kaya nga rin ako nagtataka kasi ang orihinal intention ng Pope eh pumunta dito sa mga nasalanta. Pero bakit isang araw lang ang ititigil niya doon? Dapat mas matagal. Bakit puro Manila?

(That’s why I’m wondering, because the original intention of the Pope is to visit the disaster survivors. But why will he spend only a day there? He should stay longer. Why is it mostly Manila?)

The CBCP earlier said Francis “has clearly laid out his wish that the main objective of his visit is to bring Christ’s compassion for our suffering people still struggling to rise from the devastations wrought by the earthquake and typhoon that hit the Visayas.”

Francis is set to visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015. It will mark the first time in 3 decades – only the second time ever – for a pope to go beyond Manila. (READ: Pope chooses Visayas as core of Philippine trip)

The CBCP has not released the official itinerary for the Pope’s Philippine trip. It will likely be out in November after the Vatican approves it, according to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. (READ: People’s Pope comes close to Filipinos)

No ‘5-star hotel’ for Francis?

Palo Archbishop John Du, however, said the schedule so far allots 6 hours for the Pope’s visit to Leyte, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In August, an Inquirer report said Francis “will visit Leyte on January 17 from 10 am to 4:30 pm.”

The CBCP News report said many “felt unhappy about the ‘small’ amount of time” given them.

Gariguez said those in Samar and Palawan, for instance, also want to see the Pope.

‘Di ko sinasabi na huwag na pumunta sa Manila. Ang sinasabi ko lang ang kahilingan ng mga nasalanta na mas matagal na makapiling si Pope,” Gariguez said. (I’m not saying he shouldn’t go to Manila. What I’m saying is that disaster survivors want to spend more time with the Pope.)

Where will the Pope stay in typhoon-ravaged areas?

Gariguez said the simple Latin American leader, for sure, is willing to stay anywhere. He said, “Handa si Pope na tumigil at makipamuhay sa mahihirap. ‘Di naman kailangan sa 5-star hotel.” (The Pope is prepared to stay and live with the poor. He doesn’t need to be in a 5-star hotel.) – Rappler.com

Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.