#PopeFrancisPH Mania: Papal visit highlights on social media

Stacy De Jesus

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#PopeFrancisPH Mania: Papal visit highlights on social media
Here's what people talked about online during Pope Francis' 5-day visit to the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – If you spent a lot of time online during the past 5 days, then you would know that from January 15-18, 2015, many Filipino Internet users were glued to Pope Francis. 

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Vine, Google+, and Reddit were abuzz with quotes, prayers, commentaries, and questions related to the pontiff. The “Pope-mania” also extended to messaging apps like LINE, Viber, and FireChat

Here is a list of what went down online from the time of his arrival to his departure.



Pope Francis arrived around 5:30 pm in the  Philippines.


The first thing Filipinos noticed was his smile, which was later on tagged as “unli” (unlimited smile). This photo tweet by Rappler was the first to go viral from our coverage, even though it was taken when he was still on board the plane, peeking through the window. 

The “Welcome to the Philippines Pope Francis” tweet by Rappler pushed the phrase to become a trending topic worldwide. 

As he stepped down from the plane, he smiled like a child when his zucchetto (skullcap) flew off.

The wind wasn’t too friendly to the Pope’s garments.

To many, he was just adorable.  

After the arrival, next in his itinerary was a motorcade on his way to the Apolostic Nunciature, where he stayed for the duration of his trip. 

Television anchors and reporters pronounced the term in a variety of ways, prompting what turned out to be the question of the day: “How do you pronounce ‘nunciature’?” (Click the link for the answer.)

In this day and age, the crowd cannot be silenced. As he arrived, netizens showed what they wanted the Pope to see through #ShowThePope



This was the day Pope Francis held his first mass in the Philippines. The Pope also blessed Filipino families at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on Friday, January 16.

He charmed his way into the hearts of many. Known for his spontaneity, the Pope had his way of pleasantly surprising the crowd.

During the mass at Manila Cathedral, he stopped to reply “thank you very much” to the crowd. He read from the gospel the question “Do you love me?” and the crowd shouted “yes.” 



We know him as one of the world’s most quotable leaders. 

This is a compilation of some of the quotes that tugged at the heartstrings of many Filipinos.



His social media handle, @Pontifex, tweeted twice in Filipino

A “handsome” young man stole the attention of netizens when the cameras pointed at him during the Responsorial Psalm. He was later identified to be Kenneth Parsad

Netizens were distracted by how “cute” he was. 

“It was really an enormous blessing to serve during the Pope’s mass in the Manila Cathedral. … I would like to remind you all that it’s not about me, okay? It’s all about Christ our Lord,” Parsad said.



His visit to Leyte was the core of Pope Francis’ visit. He said he felt he needed to be in the country when he heard about the disaster brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Greeted by Tropical Storm Mekkhala (Philippine name: Amang), the Pope felt the vulnerability of Tacloban firsthand. 


Prayers were tweeted for his safe trip.

People also talked about how God may have wanted the Pope to get a glimpse of what Tacloban and Leyte went through.

Pope Francis had to leave early due to the weather. He apologized when he made the announcement, saying he felt sad about having to go early.


Residents of Tacloban and Leyte were sad to hear the news of his early departure. And this was the Pope’s way to lighten the mood.

It was on day 3 that we really confirmed that the Pope’s skullcap was an attention-grabber – flying off of his head on different occasions. Watch this amusing video below:

The Pope was in the selfie capital of the world, after all, and we were all waiting for the lucky person who would have a selfie with him. Tricia Farnacio took this one home. 

#RIPKristel: A woman was killed after a scaffolding by the stage where Pope Francis held Mass for disaster survivors in Leyte collapsed on Saturday, January 17. 

A lot of people were in disbelief before sending their condolences to the family with #RIPKristel.


@pontifex tweeted in Filipino for the 3rd time. 



#PopeFrancisUST: The Pope met with leaders of various religions and the youth at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). Thousands flocked to meet him there on Sunday, January 18.

A lot of events transpired in UST.

There was a quick moment of silence, followed by a prayer for Kristel Padasas and her family. 

 And then there were these tearjerking moments.


He had originally prepared a speech for the youth, but decided to go impromptu as he deemed appropriate. 


“I am sorry I have not read the prepared remarks, but reality is superior to ideas. And the reality you have is superior to the paper I have in front of me,” he said.


He also reminded the youth of the beauty in tears. 

One of the highlights of the event was when everyone broke into song. A lot of people got goosebumps during the “Tell the World of His Love” moment, praising 13-year-old Darren Espanto‘s version and singing prowess.  

 Watch it and we dare you to tell us you weren’t moved by this moment.

The Pope tweeted in Filipino for the 4th and 5th time. 

Last papal mass: “6 to 7 million” attend the last mass of Pope Francis in the Philippines on Sunday, January 18, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a press briefing. 

Can you imagine even just half of this number of people talking online about Pope Francis?

Meanwhile, a lot of netizens were irked by the emcee at the Luneta mass who was later on identified as Reverend Father Hans Magdurulang. He “ruined the solemnity of the event,” one commenter said.

In a matter of hours, the emcee at Luneta got his own parody Twitter account.

The Twitter account gained over 700 followers, as of writing, in less than 24 hours. 

But another Facebook user had this to say:



The Pope departs for Rome. 

As Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, “Many want to go with you.”

@pontifex tweeted in Filipino for the last time during his visit. This may be his last tweet in this language in a very long time. 

What did you think of the events that transpired online?

By the way, thank you to everyone who tuned in to our #PopeFrancisPH coverage!


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