MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis felt the “deep, intense” love of Filipinos during his 5-day visit to the Philippines, the Argentinian pontiff told President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, January 19.
Aquino relayed the Pope’s last words to him when the two leaders met at Villamor Air Base, before the Holy Father boarded the Philippine Airlines papal plane for the flight back to Rome to cap his 5-day visit. (READ: Filipinos bid goodbye to Pope Francis)
“Inulit [niya] kung ano ang nadama niya – ang init ng pagmamahal na nadama niya dito sa buong biyahe (He repeated what he felt – the intensity of the love he felt throughout his visit),” Aquino told GMA-7’s Jessica Soho in an ambush interview at Villamor Air Base.
The President also said that Francis told him that he was “very, very happy” with the outcome of his Philippine visit.
A “record-breaking” 6 to 7 million people turned up at the papal mass at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday, January 18, despite non-stop rain and chilly weather, while thousands of people tirelessly waited for a glimpse of the pontiff along the route of the papal motorcade throughout his visit.
Aquino said that he did not ask Francis when he would return to the country – a question raised by many Filipinos – since it was clear that the Pope was exhausted from his visit.
“Di ko na natanong ‘yon. Klaro naman na napagod siya sa buong biyahe (I didn’t ask him that. It’s clear that he was exhausted),” the President said.
Aquino, who was personally in charge of complex security preparations for the papal visit and had made strong appeal to the public to cooperate with authorities, agreed that he could have a good night’s sleep after the visit was completed without even a minor hitch.
“A little later,” Aquino said, when Soho asked him if he could now sleep well after the visit of the important state guest.
Security officials and organizers of the papal visit had mapped out and prepared for any possible contingencies that might arise during the visit, including stampedes and an attempt to harm the Holy Father, to protect not only the state guest but the general public.
Responding to questions, Aquino said he did not raise any personal intentions to Francis, and prioritized only national concerns.
“Inuna ko muna ang para sa bayan kaysa sa akin (I prioritized what the country needs instead of mine),” he said, adding that he will just pray on his own for his personal intentions. – Rappler.com
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