Papal visit trivia
Antolin Adlawan, a 66-year-old man, walked from his province of Bukidnon to Leyte for 36 days, spending Christmas and New Year on the road, sleeping wherever he could just to see the Holy Father. He even braved a tropical storm which brought flash-floods and landslides to the Visayas and Mindanao regions in December 2014. His only rest was to read the Bible. Why did he do this? He was giving thanks to God for keeping his daughter alive for 26 years. She was still a baby when she was diagnosed of leukemia.
The Holy Father used three kinds of Popemobile. In Manila, he used an Isuzu D-Max made and customized in the Philippines and another popemobile styled after the jeepney. In Leyte, he rode aboard the popemobile that was used in Korea. The Holy Father apparently liked the Isuzu D-Max so it was decided to ship it to the Vatican so the Pope can use it there as well. Edgard Cabagon, Managing Director of Isuzu Makati Gencars Inc., the company which made the popemobile remarked, “It is a labor of love.” He added that the people who worked on the vehicle gave it their best.
Tippy Tambunting, pastry chef for the papal entourage at the Nunciature, was requested by the Pope to prepare a birthday cake for Vatican reporter Valentina Alazraki, a Mexican journalist covering the Vatican, who was celebrating her birthday on the flight back to Rome. The Pope instructed Tippy not to put any candles, and also to write the greetings in Spanish.
Other people who served at the Nunciature noted that the Pontiff was always smiling, though they knew he was very tired. They also noted that the Pope wanted everyone to eat together.
The flight crew that brought him to back to Rome remarked at how simple and innocent he was, so approachable. He wanted no special treatment, no special meals. “He ate what we ate,” said one of them.
Dan Lichauco designer of the altar used in Leyte said they had prepared a raincoat specially for the Holy Father, but he wanted to use the same kind of raincoat that the people were wearing.
Some people outside the gate of the Nunciature were allowed to go inside with their children. He gave them rosary beads. And before the Pope left, he asked them to bring their families so that he could bless them.
Pope Francis had wanted to attend the wake of Kristel Mae Padasas, the volunteer who died in a freak accident shortly after a papal Mass in Tacloban last Saturday, but it would have created a security problem. So he had to forego it.
When one lady was asked what she liked about the Pope, she said, “It’s the smile. It comes from the heart.” On the flight back to Rome, the Holy Father said that one of the things that struck him was the smile of the people: “not feigned joy. It wasn’t a false smile. No, no! It was a smile that just came out,” he said. It was a smile that came from the heart. Perhaps this is what explains the closeness between Pope and people. Heart was speaking unto heart.