MANILA — As the nation braces for the much-awaited state and pastoral visit of Pope Francis in the country, the Filipinos, who will flock to the venues of the papal visit in Leyte, are advised to bring their own transparent raincoats as rains brought by Tropical Storm “Amang” are expected over the province on Jan. 17.
“To those who will flock to the venues, please take extra precautionary measures by bringing your own transparent raincoats,” Archdiocese of Palo Relief and Rehabilitation Unit Director Fr. Al Cris Badana advised amid the busy preparations in the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte, which is one of the highlights of the papal visit.
He also said that so far, there are no reported changes on the scheduled papal activities in Leyte despite the rains.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier discounted the probability for “Amang” to make landfall, but warned that it may still bring rains over parts of Luzon and the Visayas. The tropical storm was last spotted at 960 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar in its 5 a.m. bulletin Thursday.
Meanwhile, Badana reiterated calls by the Church not to forget the spiritual preparation and obligation that come with the celebration.
“Aside from the physical preparations which we and other groups are doing, let us not forget above all our spiritual preparations and obligations. The Pope’s message of ‘mercy and compassion’ would only have meaning once we submit ourselves to God’s call,” Badana said.
Badana is in-charge of identifying the 30 survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and the Bohol earthquake that will have a special luncheon with the Pope at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo on Jan. 17.
The priest refused to provide further details on the names of the survivors for security reasons until the day itself. But he said that five survivors will each come from Calbayog, Borongan, Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa and Bohol.
Aside from the luncheon with typhoon survivors, other activities lined up in Leyte are the blessing of the newly-built Pope Francis Center for the Poor, a concelebrated Mass at the Tacloban Airport, and a meeting with priests, consecrated persons and lay representatives at the Palo Cathedral.
The Relief and Rehabilitation Unit, which Badana heads, has been doing various rehabilitation efforts for typhoon Yolanda survivors in Leyte for almost a year now under the #REACHPhilippines program of NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
The same group also has organized relief operations during the recent onslaught of typhoons Ruby and Seniang in Leyte and in Catbalogan, Samar.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) representing the country to Caritas Internationalist —the umbrella organization for Catholic charities around the world that works hand-in-hand with the Pope.