#PopeinPH Live Blog: Love, prayers, tears as Filipinos say goodbye to Pope Francis

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Pope Francis (L) waves from the popemobile after leading a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila January 18, 2015. Huge crowds converged on a Manila park on Sunday to see Pope Francis wrap up his Asian trip with an outdoor Mass expected to draw one of the largest crowds in Philippine history. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (PHILIPPINES - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE

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Day 5: Final blessing for Filipinos as Pope flies back to Rome

The well-loved pontiff flies back to Rome 10 AM Monday, leaving behind millions of emotionally high and faithfully recharged Filipinos.

Before boarding the plane, Pope Francis gave the crowd at Villamor Air base a final blessing and a humble bow.

While onboard the papal plane, Pope Francis revealed that he was "annihilated" by the massive turnout but what he loved most was the “gestures,” the manner in which Filipinos expressed joy and faith, among others. He said the mass in Tacloban was the most "moving," one that made him speechless, and made him feel "very little." (Related story: What moved Pope Francis most in his Philippines visit)

Pope Francis touched millions of lives with his simple wave, contagious smile, and heartwarming messages of love and hope. He discussed issues on corruption, sanctity of family, caring for the poor and the children, respecting women, among others.

Pope Francis gestures before boarding his plane as he departs Manila, Philippines on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Pope Francis flew out of this Catholic bastion in Asia on Monday after a weeklong trip that included a visit to Sri Lanka and drew what Filipino officials says was a record crowd of 6 million faithful in a Manila park where he celebrated Mass. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The pontiff began his 5-day state and pastoral visit with a rockstar welcome at the Villamor Air base, followed by days packed with crowd-filled motorcades, scheduled and surprise meetings with religious leaders, street children, and government officials, among others.

Prayers for the pope: A Vatican-approved prayer

Filipinos in tearful, cheerful send-off for Pope Francis

Pope Francis also comforted victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda, and then blessed graves of the people who perished in the calamity.

The highlight of his trip, the pontiff's Holy Mass at Quirino grandstand, set a record for being the biggest papal event, with an estimated 6 million attendees.

Malacanang believes the visit was without a glitch, attributing the success of the event to Filipinos’ show of discipline and government preparations. 

Related stories:

Mass in poncho for Pope Francis
Record 6 million turn out for Pope
Pope ends record setting Asia tour

10:12 AM: Plane takes off

- Pope Francis is now Rome-bound, leaving Filipinos with a multitude of emotions: extreme joy and gratitude for seeing the pontiff, and sadness as the charismatic pope leaves.

9:49 AM: Pope Francis boards Italy-bound Philippine Airlines plane

- Pope Francis blesses his guards in the Philippines before boarding the Airbus 340 plane. He was also greeted by the pilots and flight attendants upon reaching the plane.

With Pope Francis on the chartered plane are Church officials such as Cardinals and Archbishops from Rome and Vatican-accredited members of the media.

9:46 AM: Pope gives Tagle a loving pat

- Cardinal Luis Tagle is among the last to hug and bid the pope goodbye. He gets a loving pat on the back from the pontiff.

9:44 AM: Pope bids Bishops, Cardinals goodbye

- Pope hugs Church officials waiting by the red carpet at the tarmac of Villamor Air base.

9:40 AM: Pope Francis receives kisses at the airport

- Pope Francis converses with people waiting for him at Villamor Air base.

9:33 AM: President Aquino leads send-off to Pope Francis

- The president welcomes Pope Francis at Villamor Air base as authorities prepare for departure honors.

9:30 AM: Pope stops popemobile at Villamor Airbase gate

- Pope briefly stops his vehicle and kisses children. He also blessed well-wishers.

9:29 AM: Love live, Pope Francis!

- Well-wishers along papal route shout "Mabuhay ka, Pope Francis!" and "Mahal ka namin." On Twitter, netizens wish Pope Francis a safe flight and a long life with #LonglivePopeFrancis.

MANILA, Philippines--Pope Francis waves to the Filipino crowd as his motorcade leaves the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila en route to Villamor Airbase, on 19 January 2015, for his scheduled departure after a 5-day visit to the country. (Dante Diosina Jr/NPPA IMAGES)

9:25 AM: Pinoys bid Pope Francis goodbye

'We will miss him" and "Thank you" are among the most common expressions as Filipinos give Pope Francis an unforgettable send-off.

9:06 AM: Making the most out of last motorcade

- A slower motorcade for Pope Francis' last day in the Philippines.

9:04 AM: Pope leaves official Manila residence

Pope Francis inches his way out of Apostolic Nunciature while on board popemobile. Thousands cheer for the pontiff.

8:30 AM: A Pope well-loved

On Twitter, #WelovePopeFrancis is the top trending topic, as thousands of Filipinos prepare to give the pontiff a warm send-off.

7:41 AM: People fill up streets

Crowd builds up in the vicinity of Apostolic Nunciature for a last glimpse of Pope Francis.

7:00 AM: Final goodbye

Well-wishers flock along papal route to Villamor Air base for a final goodbye.

Related story:

Weeping Philippine girl challenges Pope

Pope Francis caresses 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar, a rescued street child during his meeting with youths in Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The pope ditched his prepared remarks and spoke off the cuff in his native Spanish to respond to Glyzelle, who wept as she asked Francis why children suffer so much. Palomar, a former street child rescued by a church-run foundation, told him of children who are abandoned or neglected by their parents and end up on the streets using drugs or in prostitution. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Day 4: Pope Francis visits UST and celebrates mass at Quirino Grandstand

Before a massive crowd estimated at around six million at Luneta and along the motorcade route, some of whom had been waiting in the rain and cold since early Sunday morning, Pope Francis capped his historic Philippine trip with a mass at the Quirino Grandstand. The pontiff used the Sinulog Festival, which coincided with the mass, to talk about the Sto. Niño and the importance of children.

He called it a “special joy” to be celebrating Sto. Niño Sunday with Filipinos, while noting that Filipinos “are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.”

Pope Francis also said that "we forget to remain, at heart, children of God." He adds that each child "is a gift to be welcomed, cherished, and protected."

The mass featured a choir of 1,000 singers backed by an orchestra numbering close to 200, while the concelebrants were estimated to number around 2,000. Over 5,000 lay men helped distribute hosts for confession, an activity that took nearly 20 minutes to finish.

The pontiff deviated from his planned routes both to and from Quirino Grandstand so that he could spend more time blessing the crowd and kissing babies. Another large crowd greeted him when he arrived back at the Apostolic Nunciary.


Pope Francis continues to give hope on 4th day of #PopeinPH

The Papal Mass by the numbers

Earlier, a huge crowd greeted Pope Francis at the University of Sto. Tomas where he met with different religious leaders and led a liturgical celebration at the UST Sports Field for his Encounter With the Youth.

The pontiff listened as four representatives of the Filipino youth - former street children Jon Chura and Glyzelle Palomar, law student Leandro Santos II and engineer and Yolanda volunteer Rikki Macolor - shared their testimonies.

Palomar, of the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, burst into tears as she read her testimony on her experiences as an abandoned street child and asked why God allowed these things to happen to children. (View related video)

Santos talked about the values of today’s youth and asked how they can take time out and listen to God. Macolor shared his experiences as a volunteer for Yolanda survivors and asked how the youth can be agents of compassion.

Pope Francis deviated from his prepared homily and instead sought to answer the questions put forth by the three. “Why do children suffer so much? When the heart is able to ask itself and cry then we understand something,” he said in reference to Palomar. “He told the crowd to “learn how to weep, as she (Palomar) has shown us today”.

RELATED: In photos: Pope Francis meets with religious leaders, youth at UST

In answer to Santos’ question, the pontiff replied: “We have so much information but maybe we don’t know what to do with that information. We run the risk of becoming museums of young people that have everything but without knowing what to do with these. We don’t need young museums. We need holy young people.”

In reply to Macolor, Pope Francis said: "You know how to give but you have not yet learned how to receive. Become a beggar. To learn how to receive with humility, to learn how to be evangelized by the poor. Do you know that you too are poor?"

The Pope also asked why there were very few women in the audience. "Women are capable of seeing things from a different angle," he said. "Women are able to pose questions that we men cannot understand."

Pope Francis also asked for a moment of silence for Kristel Mae Padasas, the volunteer who died Saturday in an accident during the mass at Tacloban Airport. (View related video)

Luneta Highlights

5:40 PM: Big crowd waits for Pope Francis at Apostolic Nunciature

- Pope Francis is greeted by a huge crowd as he makes his way to the Apostolic Nunciature.

5:29 PM: Pope heads back to the Apostolic Nunciature

- The Popemobile leaves the Quirino Grandstand and enters Roxas Boulevard, where thousands more are still lined up hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis.

5:26 PM: Pope still greeting the crowd

- Pope Francis is moving through the entire Luneta quadrant, stopping every and then to reach out and kiss a baby.

5:14 PM: Pope greets the crowd once more

- With Jamie Rivera singing "We are all God's Children", Pope Francis gets on the Popemobile to go around the crowd and greet and bless as many people as possible.

5:00 PM: Mass ends

- Pope Francis gives the final blessing as his historic mass at Quirino Grandstand formally ends. The Pope makes his way down the stage.

4:54 PM: Crowd sings "Tell the World of His Love"

- With lighted candles in hand, the crowd sings along to the choir's rendition of "Tell the World of His Love".

4:51 PM: Candle lighting and mission sending

- The crowd lights candles for the candle lighting and mission sending.

4:50 PM: "Mabuhay si Santo Papa!"

- Cardinal Tagle leads the crowd in shouting "Mabuhay si Santo Papa! Mabuhay si Hesukristo!"

4:42 PM: Cardinal Tagle gives thanks

- Manila Archbishop Cardinal Chito Tagle thanks Pope Francis "in the name of every Filipino". He promises that Filipinos will pray for the Pope, and that "we will go with you where the light of Jesus in needed."

4:38 PM: CBCP president delivers words of gratitude

- Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas delivers words of gratitude to Pope Francis.

4:36 PM: A moment of silence for prayer

- After 18 minutes of communion, the crowd falls silent for a moment of prayer.

4:18 PM: Over 5,000 help distribute communion

- Over 5,000 lay people help distribute communion to the huge crowd.

4:10 PM: The Lord's Prayer

 - The choir leads the singing of "The Lord's Prayer".

4:02 PM: Eucharistic Prayer

- Pope Francis recites Eucharistic Prayer in Latin.

3:55 PM: Offertory starts the Liturgy of the Eucharist

 - Pope Francis personally talks to each offerer.

3:49 PM: Prayer of the Faithful

- A Prayer of the Faithful is recited in various Philippine languages.

3:45 PM: Pope Francis ends homily

- Pope Francis ends his homily with this wish: "May the Sto Niño continue to bless the Philippines."

Pope Francis prays during a Mass at Rizal Park, in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Millions filled Manila's main park and surrounding areas for Pope Francis' final Mass in the Philippines on Sunday, braving a steady rain to hear the pontiff's message of hope and consolation for the Southeast Asian country's most downtrodden and destitute. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

3:41 PM: Sto Niño is important

- Pope Francis says "we forget to remain, at heart, children of God." He adds that each child "is a gift to be welcomed, cherished, and protected."

3:38 PM: Pope Francis calls celebrating Sto. Niño Sunday a 'special joy'

 - Noting that the Philippines is the largest Catholic nation in Asia, Pope Francis says it is a special joy to celebrate Sto. Niño Sunday with Filipinos.

3:33 PM: Pope Francis begins his homily

 - Pope Francis begins his homily at the Quirino Grandstand.

3:30 PM: Gospel is read

- The Holy Gospel according to Mark is read. "Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

3:28 PM: Young seminarian delivers second reading

- Jofree Lacson, a student from the San Carlos Seminary, delivers the second reading.

3:25 PM: Erik Santos leads singing of responsorial psalm

- Singer Erik Santos leads the singing of the responsorial psalm.

3:20 PM: Blind girl delivers first reading using Braille

- After Pope Francis says the opening prayer, a blind girl delivers the first reading using Braille.

3:10 PM: "Gloria" is sung

- The thousand-strong choir, backed by the orchestra of over 200, sings "Gloria" to kick off the final mass of Pope Francis in the Philippines.

3:05 PM: Mass at Quirino Grandstand starts

- Concelebrants and Pope Francis make their way to the stage to begin the mass. A choir of around 1,000 and orchestra of around 200 are already in place.

2:55 PM: President Aquino arrives

- President Aquino has arrived at the Quirino Grandstand.

2:50 PM: Pope Francis arrives at Quirino Grandstand

- After taking a few detours so that he could interact more with the crowd, the pontiff arrives at the Quirino Grandstand.

2:45 PM: Popemobile approaches Quirino Grandstand

- The Popemobile has no escort as it approaches the Quirino Grandstand as it choose an alternate route. As always, Pope Francis stops to kiss babies in the crowd.

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives at Rizal Park to celebrate his final Mass in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Millions filled Manila's main park and surrounding areas for Pope Francis' final Mass in the Philippines on Sunday, braving a steady rain to hear the pontiff's message of hope and consolation for the Southeast Asian country's most downtrodden and destitute. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

2:40 PM: Several spectators attempt to get near the Popemobile

- Security keeps several spectators who tried to get near Pope Francis at bay.

2:25 PM: Pope Francis on his way to Quirino Grandstand

- Onboard a Popemobile designed like a jeepney, Pope Francis heads for the Quirino Grandstand for his final mass. He enthusiastically waves to the huge crowd lining up the motorcade route. The MMDA estimates that the crowd size is around 2.5 million.

UST Highlights

11:48 AM: Pope Francis heads back to Apostolic Nunciature

- The pontiff boards the Popemobile and returns to the Apostolic Nunciature where he will stay until he heads to the Quirino Grandstand for his 3:30 PM mass.

11:41 AM: Encounter With the Youth ends

- Pope Francis holds hands and sways with children as "Tell the World of His Love" is sung to end the Encounter With the Youth at UST. Chants of "Pope Francis, we love you" greet the pontiff as he leaves the stage.

11:35 AM Liturgical Celebration ends

- Pope Francis ends the Liturgical Celebration at the UST Sports Field by blessing several Filipino families.

11:28 AM: Crowd sings The Lord's Prayer

- The crowd at UST sings The Lord's Prayer, after which Pope Francis leads the Angelus.

11:20 AM: Prayers of the Faithful recited

- Prayers of the Faitfhul are recited in different local languages.

11:16 AM: Pope Francis talks about the challenge of integrity

- Pope Francis ends his talk by saying "there is a challenge of integrity, of concern for the environment," but maintains the biggest challenge is to love the poor.

11:07 AM: Pope Francis thanks Rikki Macolor, the Yolanda relief volunteer

 - The pontiff asks Rikki, who has done a lot of work for Yolanda survivors, if he also allows himself to receive. "Answer in your heart," he says. He adds that we should teach ourselves to receive with humility.

11:03 AM: Pope says God reveals Himself through surprises

 - Pope Francis uses the example of the apostle Matthew to show how God reveals Himself to us through surprises. He says, "Empty your pockets, but come with very full hearts."

Pope Francis hugs a child during his meeting with the youth in Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Francis opened his meeting with the Filipino youth on a somber note, reporting to thousands gathered at the centuries-old university the sad news that a female church volunteer had died during his visit to central Tacloban city the previous day, and led prayers for the woman. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

10:57 AM: Pope talks about learning how to love

- Pope Francis says learning how to love is the most important lesson in life. He says the youth should learn "to think, to feel, and to do. And all that, harmoniously."

RELATED: Pope asks Filipino youth not to be 'young museums' of information

10:52 AM: Pope encourages listeners to weep for others

- Pope Francis says, "Let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today," referring to Glyzelle Iris Palomar, the street child who wept while delivering her testimony earlier. He says if we don't learn how to cry, we cannot be good Christians. "Our response should be silence or a word that is borne out of our tears," he adds.

10:45 AM: Pope Francis replies to all the testimonies delivered earlier

- Pope Francis asks, "Why do children suffer so much?" He also notes that there is a wordly compassion today that is useless, and adds today's world lacks a capacity to cry.

RELATED: Pope Francis: Where are the women?

10:38 AM: Pope remembers Tacloban volunteer who died

- Pope Francis requests for a moment of silence for Kristel Mae Padasas, the volunteer who died yesterday during the mass at Tacloban Airport.

RELATED: Scaffolding falls, killing a Catholic volunteer in Tacloban

10:25 AM: Liturgical Celebration continues

- After the testimonies of the youth, the Liturgical Celebration continues.

10:20 AM: Yolanda relief volunteer gives his testimony

- Rikki Macolor, a UST engineering graduate, shares with Pope Francis his experiences as a relief volunteer for Typhoon Yolanda victims. Rikki asks the pontiff how the youth can be agents of compassion. He invented the Solar Night Light for Tacloban Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

Pope Francis is presented with a jar containing message of former street children during his meeting with the youth in Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Francis opened his meeting with the Filipino youth on a somber note, reporting to thousands gathered at the centuries-old university the sad news that a female church volunteer had died during his visit to central Tacloban city the previous day, and led prayers for the woman. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

10:15 AM Law student gives his testimony

- Leandro Santos II, a UST law student, talks to Pope Francis about the values of today's youth.

10:10 AM: Former street child gets emotional during testimony

- Glyzelle Iris Palomar, a former street child, breaks down in tears while reading her testimony to Pope Francis. She and Jun Chura gift the pontiff with a bracelet. He hugs both of them in return.

Here is the livestream of the Papal Visit:



10:05 AM: Youths give testimony to Pope Francis

- Several youths share their stories to Pope Francis. Jun Chura, a former street child, is the first to give his testimony.

10:00 AM: Liturgical Celebration begins at UST

- A Liturgical Celebration kicks off Pope Francis' Encounter with the Youth at UST. Backed by a choir, singer Jamie Rivera begins proceedings with the song "We Are All God's Children".

Pope Francis passes past a portrait of himself as he arrives to meet youths in Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Francis is in the Philippines on Sunday, the final full day of a weeklong trip that also took him to Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

9:55 AM: Bishop welcomes Pope Francis

- Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, formally welcomes Pope Francis to UST.

9:52 AM: Pope Francis starts Encounter with the Youth

- The huge crowd at the UST Sports Field roars in approval as Pope Francis takes the stage and waves to them.

View related video

9:36 AM: Pope Francis greets the UST crowd

- Onboard his Popemobile in an open motorcade, the Pope waves to the huge crowd as he makes his way to the UST Sports Field. Along the way he takes time out to kiss and bless several babies.

9:32 AM: Pope Francis meets religious leaders

-The pontiff shakes hands with the leaders of different religions.

9:25 AM: Pope Francis arrives at UST

- University officials greet Pope Francis upon his arrival for his meeting with different religious leaders.

9:15 AM: Pope Francis on his way to UST

- Pope Francis has left the Apostolic Nunciature and is on his way to the University of Sto. Tomas.

8:30 AM: UST waiting for Pope Francis

- Thousands have gathered at the University of Sto. Tomas where Pope Francis is expected to arrive at around 9:45, first to meet with religious leaders and then meet with the youth at the Sports Field.

Day 3: Pope Francis visits Palo and Tacloban, but cuts short the trip due to storm "Amang."

It was an emotional day for residents of Tacloban and Palo, Leyte as Pope Francis gave comforting words to the victims and survivors of typhoon "Yolanda."

Pope kicked off the day with a solemn mass at the Tacloban airport, where he assured people of God's love and mercy. Tears fell alongside rain in Tacloban, where most of the 7,000 who perished due to the typhoon Yolanda came from.

Related story: Pope's words of wisdom: On love, trials, and hope

The pontiff also donned a raincoat, one that looks like those worn by the rest of the mass participants. During the motorcade, Pope then happily blessed people who waited for him all day.

Scheduled to fly back to Manila at 5 pm, Pope Francis had to cut short his trip upon pilot recommendations. A storm is heading to Visayas area.

On Sunday, a packed schedule awaits the pope, starting at the pontifical institution, the University of Sto. Tomas where he will meet with Church officials and the youth. At 3:00 PM, he will hold a Holy Mass at Quirino grandstand, where at some 6 million Filipinos are expected to attend.

Related gallery: Pope's heartwarming moments in PH:

Related story: Pope in raincoat


3: 00 PM: Pope Francis back at his residence

- There are no announced plans for the rest of the pontiff's day.

2:39 PM: Pope makes way back to Apostolic Nunciature

- Pope Francis is on board the Volkswagen vehicle as he returns to his official residence.

2:30 PM: Pope greets families, soldiers

- Pope greets people waiting by the red carpet at airport tarmac. From soldiers to elderly, to people with illnesses, Pope spent time to greet them all. He also gladly exchanged skull caps with a man and allowed a selfie with some people.

2:28 PM: Pope blesses plane pilots

- Pope Francis visits the cockpit to greet pilots before disembarking from the plane.

2:14 PM: Pope Francis is safely back in Manila

- Philippine Airlines Flight 0810 has safely landed at Villamor Airbase.

2:10 PM: Plane carrying government officials overshoots runway in Tacloban

- A private plane carrying Malacanang officials attempted but failed to take-off in Tacloban City, shortly after Pope Francis’ plane left the airport. Story here.

1:04 PM: Pope returning to Manila

- Plane takes off. Pope Francis is Manila-bound after he had to cancel remaining events in Leyte. His plane is expected to land past 2:00 PM at Villamor Air base.

Story: Storm cuts short Pope Francis' trip to Leyte

Related story: Pope says Yolanda tragedy 'silenced his heart'

12:45 PM: Pope Francis boards plane

- The pontiff has boarded the Philippine Airlines plane that will take him back to Manila.

12:33 PM: Pope Francis returns to Tacloban airport

- A faster motorcade this time as Pope Francis tries to catch the 1:00 PM flight back to Manila.

12:26 PM: Pope Francis briefly blesses mass grave

-Pope Francis passes by the mass grave, which holds Yolanda victims, behind Palo Cathedral.

12:20 PM: Pope Francis announces he's cutting short the trip

- Pope Francis, who was originally leaving Leyte at 5:00 PM announced that he will be flying back to Manila at 1:00 PM due to advice from pilots, amid Storm "Amang."

"I apologize to you all, I’m saddened, truly saddened because I had something prepared especially for you. But let us leave everything in the hands of our Lady because I have to go now. Do you know the problem is? The airplane can’t land here,” said Pope Francis through his translator."

12:17 PM: Pope Francis leads birthday song for Tagle

- Pope Francis is now in Palo Cathedral in Leyte and leads a 'Happy Birthday' song for Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

12:10 PM: Pope Francis reaches Paolo, Leyte

- Pope Francis is now in Palo, Leyte and continues with the motorcade, occasionally sitting in his pope mobile. He also had a short lunch with the survivors.

11:36 AM: Pope set to have lunch with Yolanda survivors

- Pope will share a meal with 30 Yolanda survivors from Samar and Tacloban. The encounter is not for media coverage but reports say the pontiff will use old utensils.

- Pope Francis will also hear stories of Yolanda survivors, including one whose entire family perished during the typhoon.

Pope Francis, wearing a plastic raincoat, waves to well-wishers after a mass in Tacloban, on January 17, 2015

10:59 AM: Pope Francis stops pope mobile

- Pope Francis, known to be fond of children, stops his vehicle and blesses a young boy in Tacloban City.

Related story: Emotional, rain-soaked pope comforts Philippine typhoon victims

10:52 AM: Pope Francis in rainy motorcade

- Wearing a raincoat, Pope Francis leads a motorcade in Tacloban City.

Highlights of papal mass in Tacloban:

10:29 AM: Pope gives final blessing

"Thank you, Lord for not leaving us as orphans."

10:02 AM: Pope Francis accepts emotional offertory

- Participants of the offertory bring prayers instead of items. Pope in turn lovingly blesses them.

Live stream via Rado-TV Malacanang:

10:00 AM: Prayers of the faithful

- Readers pray for the eternal repose of the souls of Bohol earthquake and Yolanda typhoon victims, as well as the forgiveness of their sins.

9:51 AM: Pope calls for moment of silence

- Pope Francis asks the crowd to "look at our Mother" and "just like a little child, call her in silence, say a prayer...tell her what you feel in your hearts."

9:49 AM: People attending mass get emotional

- People attending the mass get emotional as Pope Francis discusses the pain of losing a family.

"I walk with you all with my silent heart...I have no words to tell you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we have experienced," Pope Francis said.

9: 43 AM: Pope to Yolanda survivors: Jesus assumed our pain

"We are not going to weaken in our faith because Jesus has been there before us. In his passion, he assumed all our pain," said the pontiff in his homily.

Pope Francis added that when he saw the catastrophe brought by typhoon 'Yolanda' (Haiyan), he made a resolve to go to Tacloban.

"A little bit late, but now I am here," he added.

9:41 AM: Pope requests that he be allowed to speak in Spanish

"I prefer to speak in Spanish. May I do that?" Pope Francis says with a smile as he begins his homily.

9:26 AM: Pope Francis begins Holy Mass while wearing a raincoat

- Pope Francis wears a yellow raincoat over his vestiture as he begins an open air eucharistic celebration in Tacloban airport. Mass attendees sing Waray songs while Pope leads mass in English.

Related story: Storm 'Amang' intensifies

9:18 AM: Crowd prepares for solemn mass

- A quiet crowd patiently waits for Pope Francis to begin the Holy Mass.

9:08 AM: 'Sea of yellow' cheers 'Viva il Papa'

- Pilgrims from all over the country are wearing yellow raincoats as rains and strong winds persist in Tacloban City. Pope Francis will lead a Holy Mass at the Tacloban airport.

9:05 AM: Pope Francis begins motorcade in Tacloban

- Pope Francis wears a raincoat during his motorcade in Tacloban.


9:00 AM: Pope Francis disembarks from plane

- The pontiff has disembarked from the plane and was welcomed by priests and local officials. Vatican guards take out umbrellas to shield Pope Francis from rains.

8:45 AM: Pope Francis arrives in Tacloban

- Pope Francis' plane has touched down at the Tacloban airport and the pontiff is welcomed by endless cheers.

7:30 AM: Plane carrying pontiff takes off

-The PAL A320 flight going to Tacloban takes off. ETA in Tacloban is between 8:45 and 9am

Related story: Pope Francis set for emotional day with Yolanda survivors

PAL: Flying the pope a rare honor

Yolanda victims await Francis

Pilgrims brave rain and strong wind as they wait at Tacloban airport for Pope Francis to arrive and hold a mass January 17, 2015. On his first visit to Asia's largest Catholic nation, the pontiff will visit the central province of Leyte, which is still struggling to recover from Typhoon Haiyan that killed 6,300 people in 2013. About two million people are expected to attend an open-air mass on Saturday at Tacloban City airport, almost completely destroyed by Haiyan. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (PHILIPPINES - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)


Day 2 (January 16, 2015)

Pope Francis met with several Filipino families, including those representing OFWs and PWDs, at the “Meeting with Families” at the Mall of Asia Arena and heard their testimonies.

During his homily, he reminded the Catholic faithful to “protect the family”, and noted that economic challenges are tearing families apart as more people migrate in search of better employment. He also reiterated his message of defending marriage and the family, saying that every threat to the family is a threat to society.

Pope Francis also reminded the audience to always take time out to pray every day and not to lose the capacity to dream, for “when you lose the capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love.”

He called for respect for life and reminded the faithful of the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.

Related stories:

Slideshow: The Happy Pope

25 things the Pope said today that totally made sense

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis surprised a lot of people when he attended an activity that's not part of his Philippine itinerary. Story here: Pope's surprise meeting

The pope urged Filipinos to reject corruption "at all levels" and to not deprive the poor of God-given resources.

Speaking before government officials at the Palace, Pope Francis said it is high time for officials to lead by example.

"As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good," said the pope.

"Upon all of you, and upon all the men, women, and children of this beloved nation, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings," he also said.

Read: Pope's full speech at the Palace

The charismatic Pope also emphasized why he is the Philippines: and that is to "express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss, and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda."

Meanwhile, during his first eucharistic celebration at the Manila Cathedral, the Pope called on the clergy to examine their conscience.

Related photo: Pope Francis' message: (Full story)

Here's a recap of Day 2:

Mall of Asia Arena highlights

7:12 PM: Pope leaves MOA Arena

- Pope Francis leaves the Mall of Asia Arena and heads to the Apostolic Nunciature to rest, bringing to an end his activities for Day 2.

7:00 PM: Jamie Rivera ends the program.

- Singer Jamie Rivera ends the program at the Mall of Asia by singing We Are All God's Children.

6:57 PM: Choir sings Hymn of Mary

- The choir at the Mall of Asia Arena sings the Hymn of Mary as the audience brings out lights.

6:55 PM: The mass at the MOA Arena ends

- Pope Francis ends the mass at the Mall of Asia Arena.

6:49 PM: The Lord's Prayer

- The audience sings the Lord's Prayer in Tagalog.

6:47 PM: Prayer of the Faithful in multiple local languages

 - Intercessions are said in Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano and Kapampangan.

6:45 PM: Pope Francis ends homily

- Pope Francis ends his homily by reminding the audience not to forget that Jesus slept in Joseph's arms. He also asks everyone to pray for him.

6:37 PM: Pope Francis calls for respect for life

- Pope Francis quotes Saint John Paul II and says the future of humanity passes through the family. He calls for respect for life and reminds the audience of the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.

6:31 PM: Pope Francis talks about dangers threatening families today

- Pope Francis implores the crowd to recognize the dangers threatening our families and protect them from harm. He also notes that economic challenges are tearing families apart as more people migrate in search of better employment. He reiterates his message of defending marriage and the family, saying that every threat to the family is a threat to society.

View related video

6:26 PM: Pope Francis says he prays to St. Joseph

 - Pope Francis reveals he has a picture of a sleeping St. Joseph on his desk. He says when he has a problem, he writes it on a piece of paper and slips it under the statue so that St. Joseph can dream about it.

6:22 PM: Pope Francis reminds listeners to make time to pray

- Switching back to English, Pope Francis says we must make time to pray and that rest is essential for our spiritual health, so that we can better hear God's voice and understand His message.

6:20 PM: Pope Francis asks crowd not to lose capacity to dream

- Pope Francis reminds the crowd not to lose the capacity to dream. "When you lose the capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love."

6:15 PM: Pope Francis speaks in Spanish

- Pope Francis apologizes for his poor English, and asks permission to speak in Spanish with an interpreter beside him translating for the audience.

6:11 PM: Pope Francis gives homily

- After the reading of the gospel, Pope Francis addresses the families and his "friends in Christ" at the Mall of Asia Arena, and says he is grateful for their presence.

6:03 PM: Family representing PWDs gives testimony

- Through his daughter, Renato Cruz shares the challenges he and his wife face as persons with disabilities. Both are hard of hearing but their children are not. Pope Francis signs "thank you" to the Cruz family.

View related video

5:57 PM: OFW family gives testimony

- The Pumarada family gives testimony to Pope Francis on behalf of overseas foreign workers.

View related video

5:49 PM: Dizon family from Quezon City talks to Pope Francis

- The Dizon family from Krus na Ligas, Quezon City gives testimony to Pope Francis. They shared how their community affirmed their love for the church.

View related video

5:42 PM: Families start meeting Pope Francis

 - The Rodrigo family is the first family to give testimony to Pope Francis.

Related story: King Rodrigo on delivering message to Pope Francis: It's scary

5:35 PM: Bishop Gabriel Reyes welcomes Pope Francis

- Bishop Gabriel Reyes, chair of the Episcopal Commission for Family and Life, opens the Mall of Asia Arena event by welcoming Pope Francis.

5:32 PM: Pope Francis blesses the sick in MOA Arena audience

- Pope Francis makes his way through the capacity crowd, stopping every once in a while to kiss children and bless the sick in the audience.

5:17 PM: Pope Francis arrives at MOA Arena

- Waving at the enthusiastic crowd from his Popemobile, the pontiff is greeted by a thunderous welcome at the Mall of Asia Arena. He even paused for a while to kiss a baby.

Pope Francis waves to the Catholic faithful as he arrives for a meeting with Filipino families in Manila January 16, 2015. Pope Francis called on the Philippine government on Friday to tackle corruption and hear the cries of the poor suffering from "scandalous social inequalities" in Asia's most Catholic country. The Pope arrived the Philippines on Thursday for a five-day visit, the second and last leg of his week-long Asian tour. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (PHILIPPINES - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS SOCIETY)

4:58 PM: Pope Francis on his way to MOA Arena

- Pope Francis has left the Apostolic Nunciature and is on his way to the Mall of Asia Arena for his meeting with Filipino families.

4:40 PM: Huge crowds at MOA Arena wait for Pope Francis

 - Crowds have gathered both inside and outside of the Mall of Asia Arena where Pope Francis will meet with Filipino families.


4:05 PM: Pope Francis tweets in Filipino

- Pope Francis says the Philippines bears witness to the youth and vitality of the Catholic Church.


Manila Cathedral highlights

1:03 PM: Pope Francis leaves Manila Cathedral

- The pontiff has left Manila Cathedral and is going back to the Apostolic Nunciature, his official residence in Manila. He's riding a Volkswagen sedan. He will reportedly rest for now to prepare for a packed schedule late afternoon Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Pope Francis, right, lifts the host beside Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, as he officiates a mass with clergy and religious at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Manila, Philippines, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Related stories:

Vatican picks Filipina's design for papal chair

Pope on possible assassination: Make it quick

Pope Francis to Philippine officials: Reject corruption

12:36 PM: Mass ends, crowd sings 'Tell the world of His love."

- The crowd sings the iconic song "Tell the World of His Love," which was the official theme of Blessed John Paul II's visit in Manila back in 1995, as Pope Francis leaves the Manila Cathedral.

Pope Francis waves to the faithful from his Popemobile as his motorcade leaves the Presidential Palace for the Manila Cathedral Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. Pope Francis called on Filipinos to reject the corruption that has plagued this Asian nation for decades and urged them to instead work to end the "scandalous" poverty and social injustices that afflicts its people, encouraging the government to continue the first significant crackdown on high-level corruption since the fall of the Marcos regime three decades ago. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

12:31 PM: Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle welcomes Pope Francis

“This Cathedral has been razed to the ground many times but it refuses to disappear. It boldly rises from the ruins, just like the Filipino people. We are afflicted in every way possible but we are not crushed," Tagle tells the Holy Father, referring to Manila Cathedral. The church had been closed to the public for a while for repairs.

12:12 PM: Pope Francis greets elderly priests and nuns

- Pope Francis reaches out to nuns and priests seated in front of the Church. He prioritized those in wheelchairs and lovingly blessed them one by one. 

11:33 AM: Pope Francis begins sermon

- The pontiff asks members of the Church: "Do you love me?" He gets a loud yes. Then he says "Thank you very much" and elicits laughter from the crowd.

- He also tells priests and nuns: "As ambassadors of Christ, all of us should be first to welcome his reconciling grace in our hearts." He also said "we should be the first to examine our conscience, acknowledge our sins."

Related story: Pope watch: Tears of disappointment and more

11:23 AM: First reading is in Filipino

- The First reading during the Holy Mass is read in Filipino.

11:16 AM: Pope begins eucharistic celebration

-Pope Francis is now leading a Holy Mass in English. It was earlier reported his mass will be Latin. The penitential rite's song is in Filipino.

Related story: Pope slams scandalous social inequalities, graft

11:00 AM: Pope arrives at Manila Cathedral on schedule

- Pope Francis is now at the Manila Cathedral to celebrate his first mass in the Philippines. The Holy mass is attended by priests and nuns from all over the country.

10: 49 AM: Pope resumes motorcade

- The pontiff rides the pope mobile anew and happily waves before jubilant crowds. He is en route to Manila Cathedral, where he will hold his first mass.

Pope in Malacanang highlights

10: 43 AM: Pope gives an apostolic blessing

- Pope Francis gives a blessing to those inside the Rizal Hall. Spotted in the area are the First family, former presidents, key government officials, and dignitaries.

10: 40 AM: Pope Francis wishes blessings for the Philippines

- The Pope has wished "goodness, abundance, and blessings" for the country.

10: 36 AM: Pope Francis calls on Filipinos to reject corruption

"I hope this will challenge everyone at all levels of society to reject every form of corruption which divert the resource for the poor," said Pope Francis.

10: 34 AM: Pope lauds Filipino resilience

- "I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of natural disasters and so many others," he said.

10: 32 AM: Pope cites fifth centennial anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

- Pope says he hopes the milestone will result in "continuing faithfulness and to inspire society worthy of devoutness, dignity and aspirations."

10:29 AM: Pope Francis delivers his speech

"I thank you Mr. President for your kind welcome. I am most grateful for your invitation to visit the Philippines," said the pontiff.

10: 20 AM: Aquino hits Church silence during previous administration

"Hence, there was a true test of faith when many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses," said Aquino.

10:15 AM: Pope and President end closed-door meeting

- Pope Francis and Aquino emerge from the President's hall and head to Rizal Hall for a program. Spotted at the Rizal Hall are former presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos.

9:40 AM: Pope Francis and President Aquino in private meeting

- Pope Francis is led to the President's hall for a private meeting with Aquino. Agenda has not been disclosed but they may discuss issues on poverty.

9:35 AM: Pope is inside the palace

- Pope Francis drinks a glass of water and uses a towel. He then signed the official guestbook.

Pope Francis signs the Palace guestbook. Photo screenshot from RTVM.

9: 33 AM: Pope blesses children while marching towards the Palace

- Children of government employees get blessings from the pontiff.

9:27 AM: Cabinet officials greet Pope Francis

- The pontiff gets bows and kisses on the hand from members of Aquino's Cabinet. Aquino meanwhile greets members of the papal delegation

9:22 AM: Aquino welcomes the pontiff

- President Aquino personally welcomed Pope Francis at the Malacanang grounds

9:19 AM: Pope Francis inches closer to Malacanang

- A 21-gun salute awaits the pontiff for the traditional welcome at the Palace.

09:03 AM: The papal convoy approaches the street leading to Malacanang where he's expected to meet the President, members of the diplomatic corps and the first family.

08:57 AM: Pope Francis greets the thick crowd awaiting him on the streets of Manila.

Pope rolls down the window. Photo screenshot from RTVM.

08:52 AM: The Pope rides a small enclosed vehicle (Volkswagen) on his way from the Apostolic Nunciature to the Palace.

08:48 AM: Honor guards in Malacanang prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis on the Day 2 of his state and pastoral visit to the Philippines. The Holy Father is scheduled to do a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III at 9:15 AM, Friday.


Day 1 (January 15, 2015)

Pope Francis gets a rockstar welcome as he arrived in the Philippines for a 5-day pastoral visit.

Thousands of Filipino believers gave loud cheers as soon as the plane carrying Pope Francis touched down at Villamor Air base. People from all walks of life and of various ages braved intense heat and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of Pope Francis, the first pontiff to visit the Philippines in 20 years.

And the pontiff did not disappoint: he waved at throngs during the motorcade, blessing Filipinos along the way.

Pope Francis reportedly said that his focus for the Philippine trip will be on the poor, exploited, and the victims of injustice. (Related story: Pope's focus in PH trip)

Friday's schedule will be a packed one for the Holy Father, beginning with a welcome ceremony at Malacanang Palace. He will also lead a Holy Mass at Manila Cathedral before bishops and members of religious orders around noon and then meet with selected families at the Mall of Asia Arena at 5:00 PM. He will have a motorcade in between these events.

Related gallery: Photos from the motorcade

Here's a recap of Day 1 live blog:

7:34 PM: Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi holds a press conference

- Lombardi says Pope Francis always wanted to visit the Philippines.

"It was important...this journey to the Philippines was necessary. [This is] a very important nation that is the center of Catholic church in this continent," Lombardi said.

Lombardi also said the pontiff had a "long and rich conversation with the journalists" while on the plane en route to Manila. Lombardi noted that the pope is also in good health, despite reports that the Catholic Church leader had to cancel a scheduled meeting in Sri Lanka due to exhaustion.

Related story: Exhausted Pope cancels meeting in Sri Lanka

6:57 PM: Pope Francis reaches official residence

- After a quick motorcade along major roads in Manila, Pope Francis has reached Apostolic Nunciature, which will be his official residence for most of his 5-day stay in the Philippines.

View: Photos of the motorcade

6:20 PM: Pope Francis waves to throngs of Filipinos

- Crowds who patiently waited all day get warm waves from Pope Francis. Filipinos cheer and shout "We love you Pope Francis!"

6:17 PM: Pope Francis boards pope mobile

- Pope Francis begins his motorcade from Villamor Air base. Cardinal Tagle joins him in his pope mobile. They are also seen engaged in a happy chat.

Related story: Huge welcome for first PH papal visit in 20 years

6:05 PM: Pope meets Cabinet officials, Bishops

- Pope Francis greets officials such as Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, among others. He also shook hands with cardinals such as Antonio Tagle and several bishops. The song "Kapayapaan" is being played at the background.

6:03 PM: Pope Francis blesses children

-Pope Francis blesses Mark Angelo Bartolas, 10, and Lanie Ortillo, 9 who gave flowers as they welcomed the pontiff. Bartoles and Ortillo are from Tuloy sa Don Bosco, which houses abandoned children.

6:01 PM: Pope Francis and President Aquino inspect troops

- President Aquino accompanies Pope Francis during the traditional inspection of troops at the red carpet.

5:59 PM: Pope Francis bows

- The pontiff, welcomed by President Aquino, bows before the crowd while holding his necklace. Vatican and Philippine anthems play.

5:57 PM: Pope Francis deplanes

- Pope Francis is welcomed by cheers as he sets foot in the Philippines.

5:50 PM: Cardinals line up to welcome Pope Francis

- Church officials wait by the red carpet to welcome the Roman Catholic Church's highest leader.

5:49 PM: The first papal wave

- Pope Francis is seen waving at the crowds while still inside the plane.

5:46 PM: Filipinos cheer for Pope Francis

- Crowds shout "We love you" as they wait for Pope Francis to get down from the plane.

5:42 PM: Pope Francis set to go down from plane

- The Sri Lankan airline is positioning itself and Pope Francis is expected to get down from the plane any minute now.

Live stream courtesy of Malacanang:

5:39 PM: Crowds ecstatic with pope's arrival

- Filipinos all over the country rejoice as Pope Francis' plane lands in Manila.

5:35 PM: Church bells peal for Pope Francis

- Churches all over the country have rung bells to welcome the pontiff.

5:31 PM: Pope Francis' plane touches down in Manila

- Finally, the pontiff's plane has arrived in Villamor Air base, to the delight of thousands of Filipinos who have been waiting for the pope for hours.

5:29 PM: CAAP control tower gives clearance to land

- Pope Francis' plane has been given clearance to land. Touch down any minute now.

5:22 PM: Pope Francis approaching Cavite and Manila

- Flight radar shows Pope Francis' plane nearing the Philippine capital.

5:19 PM: All systems go for arrival cremonies

- Anthems of The Vatican and Philippines will both play as officials welcome Pope Francis. The pontiff will also walk on a 100-meter red carpet at the Villamor air base.

5:09 PM: President Aquino arrives at Villamor Air base

- President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III who will lead government officials in welcoming Pope Francis has arrived at the Villamor Air base.

5:05 PM: Livestream ready for Pope's arrival in Manila

- This Livestream is courtesy of The Vatican

4:50 PM: Villamor Airbase all set for papal arrival

- Security is in place and performers are all ready for Pope Francis.


4:30 PM: One hour to go!

- One more hour to go before Pope Francis arrives in the Philippines. Be reminded of his itinerary and take note of the vantage points.

4:30 PM: Umbrella formation for the pope

- An umbrella formation depicting a Philippine flag will be Pope Francis' first view as soon as his plane arrives at Villamor Air base.

Students holding umbrellas rehearse a dance hours prior to the arrival of Pope Francis at a military airbase in Manila on January 15, 2015

4:20 PM: Filipino youth prepare to welcome pope

- Catholic delegation in charge of welcoming Pope Francis at the Villamor Air base practice their moves and formation.

4:10 PM: Plane carrying Pope Francis over South China Sea

- Flight radar monitoring shows plane carrying Pope Francis is nearer Philippines now. Expected time of arrival is 5:45 PM.

3:50 PM: Protest amid Pope Francis' visit

- Cops clash with a group of rallyists who wanted to get near Apostolic Nunciature, the pope's official residence in Manila. The protesters attempted to give Pope Francis a letter from victims of typhoon Yolanda. Photos here.

3:40 PM: Excitement high for Pope Francis

- Thousands of Filipinos brave intense heat and strict security as they await Pope Francis.

3:00 PM: Popemobile is ready!

- The specialized vehicle that will transport Pope Francis in his way around Manila has arrived at Villamor Air base.

2:48 PM: Plane carrying Pope over Cambodia

- Three hours left before Pope Francis arrives in Manila for a historic, much-awaited visit.

Related stories:

Philippines locks down Manila to secure crowd-adoring Pope

2:43 PM: Malacanang holds press briefing

- Malacanang has reiterated that there are "no specific, only generic" threats against Pope Francis. 

"Our government has done all the necessary to ensure the security of the pope. No specific threats, only generic threats and these are being addressed by security agencies," said Communications Sec. Herminio Coloma.

2:40 PM: Papal plane over Bangkok

- Flight UL41111 which is carrying Pope Francis has been spotted over Thailand.

2:00 PM: More people flock to papal route

- Reports say more people have converged at Quirino and Taft avenue, as well as at the Villamor Airbase, which is Pope Francis' first stop in Manila.

1:45 PM: More security forces being deployed

- Thousands of policemen are steadily being deployed in major roads and areas that are part of the papal route.

1:30 PM: DSWD denies allegations of caging street children

- DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman denies report that street children are being caged to keep Manila streets clean for the papal visit.

Other papal stories:

Pope heading to the Philippines, where adoring crowds await

12:10 PM: Human chains formed in papal route

- Volunteers have started forming human chains to create order as hundreds of Filipinos position themselves to get the best vantage points.

11:50 AM: Authorities hold a press conference for final preparations for papal arrival.

- Officials from Malacanang and other government agencies have converged for a final briefing on the pope's arrival. 

11:45 AM: Government officials reiterate safety reminders

- Government officials have reminded the eager Filipino crowd to "avoid pushing" and to keep calm while participating in papal activities. Watch the survival guide video.

Other related stories:

Pope sparks Filipino social media frenzy

Pope to begin trip to passionate Philippines

Pope's Filipino host is a humble rising star

11: 30 AM: Pope Francis on his way to the Philippines

- Pope Francis has boarded the plane en route to Manila. He is expected to arrive 5:30 PM.

11: 20 AM: Pope Francis in departure ceremonies in Sri Lanka

- The Pope is preparing to leave Sri Lanka and is set to board a plane that will bring him to the Philippines.

11:15 AM: Storm threatens areas of papal visit

- The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, says Pope Francis may have to alter his schedule should a storm threatening parts of Leyte pushes through.

"We hope there is not a hurricane, that it is only rain," Lombardi said. "If there is only rain, the pope has no fear of the rain — we see him in St. Peter's Square, he is ready to be in the rain!" (AP Report)

- Associated Press also reports that at least 40 elderly Filipinos living abroad, mostly wheel-chair assisted, travelled all the way to the Philippines, hoping to see Pope Francis. 

11: 00 AM: Excitement grips the Philippines

- Filipinos express excitement over papal arrival. "Welcome to the Philippines" is now among the top trending topics on Twitter while some reports say people are already converging at the vicinity of Apostolic Nunciature, the pope's official residence, hours ahead of the anticipated papal arrival.

- Pope Francis is expected to board the plane that will bring him to Manila anytime soon.

After months of waiting, Pope Francis is finally setting foot in the Philippines.

When Pope Francis visits the country this week, the Philippines will not just welcome a popular Church leader, but will also be subject to global attention.

Back in July 2013, local Catholic Church leaders announced the pastoral and state visit of Pope Francis. This year's theme for the papal visit is "mercy and compassion." Now it’s (almost) all-systems go, with thousands of security personnel deployed and barricades in place. Church bells will be ringing simultaneously at 5:45 pm on January 15, the expected time of arrival of the pontiff.

Two decades after the last visit of a pope happened in 1995 when then Pope John Paul II drew 5 million faithful at Rizal park, this papal visit is expected to top that record, with an estimated 6 million attending one of the many activities of Pope Francis.


In historic Intramuros alone, home of Manila Cathedral where the Pope is to hold his first mass, the government has allotted P800 million to restore portions of the 450-year-old district in the Philippine capital.

Traffic islands on several Manila roads have also undergone replanting and repainting in preparation for the papal visit. In Tacloban, airport, roads, and bridges damaged by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) are being repaired in time for Pope's arrival.

Meanwhile, aside from cancelling flights and closing roads, authorities have imposed no fly and sail zones in areas where Pope Francis will go.

Long weekend also awaits those working and studying in Metro Manila as Malacanang have declared January 15, 16 and 19, 2015 as special non-working days for Pope Francis' visit.

Poor score VIP seats, direct contact with Pope

The 78-year-old pontiff, known to consider himself the pope of the poor, will visit a country where one-quarter of the population live below poverty line, dedicating bulk of his time here to meet the faithful—lunch with those orphaned by super typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas on Saturday (January 17), and celebrate a concluding mass before an estimate of 6 million believers on Sunday (January 18) in Quirino Grandstand.

He, too, will hear stories straight from three groups that represent typical Pinoy families: a poor family, a family with overseas Filipino worker (OFW) member, and a family with a person with disability (PWD) member in a meeting at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday (January 16).

About 300 urban poor will also get the best seats at the said venue to ensure they face the pope directly.

Part of his itinerary in the Visayas is to inaugurate the Pope Francis Center for the Poor being constructed at Bukid Tabor in Palo, Leyte. The said Vatican-funded facility has a chapel, a clinic, an orphanage, and a home for the elderly.

(With reports from Luigene Yanoria)