Metro Manila · Pope Francis in the Philippines (January 15-19) *Update*
In January 2015, the leader of the Catholic church visited Manila as well as areas in the Visayas that had been devasted by Typhoon Yolanda.
+++ Update January 20 +++
With the Philippines being one the most Catholic countries in the world and the only Christian country in South East Asia, the five-day visit of Pope Francis was THE highlight for many Filipinos in 2015. In the past, the Philippines have already been visited by Pope Paul VI (in 1970), and Pope John Paul II (in 1981 and 1995). It was the first time, however, that a pope visited parts of the Philippines other than Manila. Pope Francis spent January 17 in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, Eastern Visayas, to celebrate mass and to meet with Yolanda survivors. The Pope's visit in Palo hat to be cut short, as bad weather forced the delegation to fly back to Manila earlier than planned.
On January 18 an estimated 6 million people flocked to Manila City to attend Pope Francis' mass in Rizal Park, despite constant rains. This is the largest crowd ever to attend a papal event. As umrellas were not allowed at the event, thin yellow plastic ponchos become the signature dress of not only the crowd but also the Pope himself.
Traffic & Security
The rest of the program will take place in Metro Manila, namely in Pasay City (Villamor Airbase and Mall of Asia Arena) and in Manila City (Vatican Embassy at Taft Avenue, Malacañang Palace, Manila Catherdal, University of Santo Tomas, and Rizal Park). Roads will be blocked and traffic rerouted near these venues on the respective dates.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has formed a task force and keeps people updated on traffic interruptions through its Twitter account. MMDA also announces road closures, alternative routes, and ways to get to the respective venues of the papal visit on their Facebook account.
January 15, 16 and 19 (Thursday, Friday, Monday) have been declared Special Non-Working Days in the National Capital Region (i.e. Metro Manila). This will not only allow more people to see Pope Francis, but hopefully also ease the traffic a bit. The number coding scheme will be lifted during these days.
The concluding mass at Rizal Park (January 18) in particular will attract crowds of people. 20 years ago, Pope John Paul II drew 5 million people to the park. Try going there early if you are planning to attend, or otherwise stay away from Manila City on that day. Do not forget to protect yourself from the sun with umbrellas, sunscreen, and caps, bring water and food, and keep a watch on your belongings. (See also our Safety & Security guide.)
For further information, visit the official website for the papal visit: papalvisit.ph
Itinerary of the Papal Visit to the Philippines 2015
5:45 pm – Arrival in Manila, followed by a motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature, or the Vatican Embassy, along Taft Avenue
9:15 am – Welcome ceremony in the presidential palace, Malacañang, with a courtesy visit to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III
10:15 am – Meeting with civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, and a speech by Francis; followed by a motorcade to the Manila Cathedral, Intramuros
11:15 am – Holy Mass with bishops, priests, and consecrated persons at the Manila Cathedral; followed by a motorcade to the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City
5:30 pm – Meeting with families at the Mall of Asia Arena
8:15 am – Departure for Tacloban City, from the Villamor Air Base
9:30 am – Arrival in Tacloban City
10 am – Concelebrated Mass near the Tacloban airport
12:45 pm – Lunch with several Yolanda survivors at the Archbishop's Residence in Palo, Leyte
3 pm – Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo, Leyte
3:30 pm – Meeting with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and families of Yolanda survivors at the Palo Cathedral
5 pm – Departure for Manila
6:15 pm – Arrival in Manila, at the Villamor Air Base
9:45 am – Meeting with leaders of various religions at University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila
10:30 am – Meeting with the youth in the sports field of UST, and a speech by Francis; followed by a motorcade to Rizal Park
3:30 pm – Concluding Mass at Rizal Park, Manila
9:45 am – Departure ceremony at the presidential pavilion of the Villamor Air Base
10 am – Departure for Rome