FAQs: Pope Francis’ trip to the Philippines

Katerina Francisco

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FAQs: Pope Francis’ trip to the Philippines
Got questions on the Pope's first Philippine visit? Check out the frequently asked questions here.

Last updated January 13

MANILA, Philippines – Only a few more days until Pope Francis makes his first trip to the Philippines, and the largely Catholic nation is preparing for it in full force. 

Officials are are ramping up security as the charismatic Argentine pontiff is expected to draw an estimated 6 million people to events during his 5-day visit, possibly rivaling the 5-million-strong crowd of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1995.

Francis’ itinerary from January 15 to 19 will include a courtesy call in Malacañang and meetings with priests, the youth, families, and consecrated persons during his 4 days in the capital, Manila.

He will also spend one day in the province of Leyte to meet with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and the 2013 earthquake in the Visayas.

While some of the gatherings are limited to pre-selected attendees, there are several events that will give the public a glimpse of the Roman Catholic leader. 

Rappler has compiled this list of frequently asked questions and answers from the weekly press briefings of the official papal visit committee.


Pope Francis’ Philippine itinerary

Metro Manila events






Bank hours, operating schedules, holidays



Accommodation concerns

Prohibited items

Tips and guidelines for papal events



Which events are open to the public?

Some of these events are limited to pre-selected attendees, but the public may still go to the venues and watch via screens that will be set up outside. 

January 16 (Friday) 

11:15 am – Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral with 2,000 bishops, priests, and consecrated persons. Only those with IDs will be allowed to enter the cathedral, but the public can watch the event through screens outside. Tents with seats will be set up outside the cathedral.

January 17 (Saturday)

10 am – Mass at the Tacloban Airport grounds. Up to 160,000 people may be accommodated; big screens will also be set up for the public.

January 18 (Sunday)

10:30 am – Meeting with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas. This is open to the public, but the UST football field and grandstand will be designated to around 24,000 youth delegates only.

3:30 pm – Mass at the Rizal Park. Open to the public. 

Do we need tickets to attend the events?

No tickets are issued, sold, or given away. The papal visit committee warns the public against those claiming to sell tickets to the events.

To get a better chance of having a glimpse of the Pope, the public is advised to come early to the venues and get a good spot. 

How can we get passes for the meeting with the youth in UST? The meeting with families at Mall of Asia? The meeting with Yolanda survivors in Leyte?

Only pre-selected representatives will be allowed to participate in these events. They will be chosen by their respective dioceses. In an FAQ video, the papal visit committee suggests contacting the local parish or diocese for more information.

For more details on the meeting with the youth at UST, call the UST Office of Public Affairs at (02) 731-3544.

Will Pope Francis stop for photos along his motorcade? 

It’s possible. During his visit, the Pope will be riding an open, non-bulletproof “popemobile” to represent the ideal image of a “vulnerable, open, and accessible” Church.

This will allow Francis to step off the vehicle if he chooses. In his other trips, the Pope was known to make unscheduled stops during his motorcades to chat and be with the crowds.

Can I get close to Pope Francis?

With tight security and screening from the Philippine National Police, the Presidential Security Group, and the Vatican’s own Swiss Guards, it’s unlikely.

What do I need to prepare for the UST youth encounter?

Expect the roads surrounding UST to be closed to vehicles.

UST gates will open at 4 am on January 18. The public is given designated areas in the campus.

They can enter the university through UST gates 10 and 11, which are both along Dapitan street at the back entrance to the university. The 24,000 delegates of the youth encounter can enter the university through gates 5 and 6, which are both along España boulevard near the UST football field.

READ: What you need to know: Pope Francis’ UST visit

Can I camp out near Rizal Park?

Camping out overnight in Rizal Park is not allowed. The public will be allowed to enter the park from 6 am to 1 pm on January 18.

Will there be first aid stations in Rizal Park during the Pope’s Mass?

Yes. 20 first aid stations will be set up around Rizal Park. 20 ambulances will also be deployed, along with 120 medical volunteers.

400 portalets will also be placed in strategic areas around the park.

What are the do’s and don’ts during the Luneta Mass?

Officials have advised the public to observe the following guidelines:

  • Rizal Park and the Quirino Grandstand will be open at 6 am until 1 pm
  • Backpacks or bags would not be allowed into the site
  • Snacks and drinks are allowed but must be placed in transparent containers
  • Bring fans and hats, and raincoats rather than umbrellas to provide others an unobstructed view
  • Those with chronic illnesses should bring a first aid kit with any medicine they might need.
  • Pregnant women are advised not to go to crowded areas.
  • Bringing firecrackers and alcohol is prohibited.
  • Do not bring infants. If you are bringing children, a one adult to one child ratio is recommended.
  • If you need medical attention, keep calm and do not panic. Head towards the nearest first aid station.

READ: 10 tips: Stay healthy, safe during Pope Francis events

Where are the no-firearms zones?

The following areas are declared “Firearms Free Zones“:

  1. Nunciature Area, Taft Avenue, Manila
  2. Malacañang Palace
  3. Manila Cathedral
  4. SM Arena, Mall of Asia
  5. Villamor Airbase, Pasay City
  6. University of Santo Tomas
  7. Quirino Grandstand
  8. Tacloban City
  9. Palo, Leyte

The ban applies to all civilians with gun licenses, as well as uniformed personnel (such as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines) who are in civilian attire.

Can I fly drones to better get a view of the Pope?

No. Violators will be apprehended and face fines between P300,000 ($6679)* to P500,000 ($11,100).

A 3-nautical-mile radius, from the surface up to 18,000 feet from certain areas where the Pope, are also declared no-fly zones.

Will there be work during Pope Francis’ visit?

January 15, 16, and 19 have been declared special (non-working) days in the National Capital Region.

Where will the Pope stay?

Pope Francis will stay at the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue in Manila. It is the Holy See’s representation in the Philippines.

What vehicles will the Pope use?

He will be riding in an open-top, jeepney-inspired popemobile.

There will be a total of 3 vehicles: the jeepney-style popemobile, an Isuzu vehicle, and a Kia vehicle.

Are merchandise bearing the papal visit logo legal?

While the official logo is copyrighted, independent sellers are not prohibited from creating their own designs and integrating elements of the papal visit, such as the theme and image of the Pope, in items that can be sold to commemorate the event.

What flights will be cancelled?

Local and foreign air carriers have suspended flights in the Philippines on these dates:

January 15

  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila
    • Primary runway (06/24) and secondary runway (13/31) closed for all arriving flights
    • Departing flights allowed to operate from 2:00-5:15 pm.
    • No fly zone between 5:15-6:15pm

January 17

  • Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, Tacloban City
    • Closed from 6:00 am-9:00 pm, except for Papal entourage’s aircraft
  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport
    • Closed from 7:45 am – 8:45 am, and from 5:45 – 6:45 pm

January 19

  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport
    • Open for departing aircraft between 6:00 am – 9:30 am
    • No fly zone from 9:30 am – 10:30 am

Check the full list here: Flight cancellations: Papal visit in PH, January 15-19, 2015

What airport roads will be closed? 

The following roads will be closed:

  • January 15: Sales Avenue, Andrews Avenue, and Domestic Road (3 pm to 7 pm)
  • January 19: Sales Avenue, Andrews Avenue, and Domestic Road (7 am to 10 am)

On these dates, Ninoy Aquino International Airport can only be accessed through South Superhighway, Bicutan, Sucat, and Alabang roads.

I’m going to Manila for the Pope’s visit. Where can I stay?

Check out this list of hotels near key areas such as the Manila Cathedral, Mall of Asia, University of Santo Tomas, and Rizal Park.

Where can we send donations for the papal visit?

Check donations should be made payable to RCAM-Papal Visit.

Cash donations are accepted through these accounts:

  • BPI: Current Account 0051-0556-75
  • Security Bank: Savings Account 0061-015085-001

Donors are advised to inform the papal visit finance committee at (02) 527-2995 or email finance.papalvisit@yahoo.com. 

Where can I monitor updates? 

Visit Rappler’s #PopeFrancisPH microsite for the latest stories, images, conversations, and perspective pieces on the Pope’s visit to the Philippines.

An official papal visit app (papalvisitph) is also available on iOS and Android. The app links to the Pope’s Twitter account (@pontifex) and official websites. It also features news updates and the Pope’s Philippine itinerary, a photo gallery, the National Prayer for the Papal Visit, and a “prayer wall” for petitions.

– 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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