MANILA — The Sri Lankan Air Lines plane (Flight 4111) transporting Pope Francis and his entourage arrived at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay City at 5:32 p.m. Thursday or 13 minutes ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 5:45 p.m.
The Pontiff’s visit started Jan. 15 and will end on the 19th.
The aircraft stopped taxiing at the tarmac exactly 5:44 p.m. It left Colombo, Sri Lanka at 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
The flag of the Philippines and Vatican was streaming near the aircraft’s windshield when it landed.
The crowd at Villamor Air Base cheerfully waved and roared their welcome upon seeing the Pontiff peering out on the window of the plane.
Pope Francis disembarked from the front door of the plane at exactly 5:58 p.m. As he was doing this, his white cap was blown off by a strong breeze.
While this was going on the music titled, “Papa Francisco” played on with 1,200 elementary school students dancing to the beat.
Pope Francis, as befitting as his position as head of the Vatican, was given full military honors and welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, who kissed the Pope’s ring.
Both the Philippine and Vatican Anthem were played by the bands present. An honor guard was also present when this was going.
A beaming Pope Francis hugged the two children, a boy and girl, who handed him a bouquet of flowers.
Officials joining the welcoming party for Francis Pope include Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, National Economic, and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan.
While representing the Roman Catholic Church were His Eminence Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cagayan De Oro Archbishop Most Rev. Antonio Ledesma, Davao Archbishop Most Rev. Romulo Valles, Cabanatuan Bishop Most Rev. Sofronio Bancud, La Union Bishop Most Rev. Rofoldo Beltran, Malaybalay Bishop Most Rev. Jose Cabantan, Prelate of Infanta Most Rev. Bernardino Cortez, Daet Bishop Most Rev. Gilbert Garcera, Vicar Apostolic of Jolo Most Rev. Angelito Lampon, Lucena Bishop Most Rev. Emilio Marquez, Most Rev. Jesse Mercado, and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Secretary General Rev. Father Marvin Mejia.
The Pontiff briefly chatted with these officials and shook hands with them after being introduced to the members of the Philippine cabinet and church officials who welcomed him.
The Pope’s entourage then proceeded early Thursday evening towards his official residence at the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue in Manila, passing through the streets of Manila cheered on by more than a million well wishers.