TACLOBAN – Coming from an exuberant welcome in the city of Manila, Pope Francis flies to Tacloban City today, where he expects to spend an emotional day with survivors of Yolanda (Haiyan); the super typhoon that brought utter devastation to the city and to already impoverished farming and fishing towns.
The pontiff has said, on numerous occasions, that his trip to Tacloban is a top-priority on the agenda of his five-day visit to the Philippines.
“In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda,” Pope Francis said.
Yolanda barreled through the Philippines’ Central Visayas region in November of 2103. Recorded as the strongest storm to ever make landfall, Yolanda left 7,350 people dead or missing as it exited the country.
Over one year after the super typhoon, communities in the area are still having much difficulty coping with the damage wrought by Yolanda. People are still struggling to rebuild all that was lost to the twister.
The Pope begins his trip to Tacloban by celebrating the Holy Mass in the city’s airport; with thousands upon thousands of people expected to attend. He will then proceed to the archbishop’s residence in Palo, Leyte, to have lunch with 30 survivors of Yolanda and the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013. After that, he is scheduled to bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo, where he will meet around 50 persons with disabilities, orphans, and the elderly.