MANILA, Philippines — Since the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival here Thursday, the first section of most Philippine newspapers has been filled with pope-related news and editorials.
“Tears and cheers” dominate the headlines as the papers recount pilgrims’ experiences — both close-up and from the motorcades routes.
But there are also details that local newspapers do best.
Everyday all the papers have run articles about the government security services order that cellular telephone and data service companies block their signals neighborhood by neighborhood along the papal motorcade route. Security officials say it is to ensure that a cellphone cannot be used as a detonator.
The Philippine Star this morning reports that The Metropolitan Development Authority “has so far collected 11 truckloads of trash” from the papal motorcade routes. “The people who gathered to see the pontiff left behind plastic water bottles, food wrappers, polystyrene containers and barbecue sticks.”
This morning’s papers also carry photographs and stories on the private jet that flew government cabinet ministers to and from Pope Francis’ Mass in Tacloban yesterday. The plane tried to take off about 30 minutes after the pope’s plane and, apparently, strong gusts from the approaching tropical storm pushed the plane off the runway. It ended up in the grass with its nose tipped into the mud. A few passengers suffered bumps, but no one was seriously injured.
Perhaps as many as 6 million people were expected at this afternoon’s papal Mass at Rizal Park. Last night, officials from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines celebrated a Mass and consecrated 2.5 million hosts that will be housed in 20 Blessed Sacrament tents on the park’s perimeter so that even people in the back of the crowd may receive Communion. (It’s the only way. It would be impossible to carry that many hosts from the papal altar through the crowds and distribute them during the Mass.)
The Philippine Inquirer reported this morning that leaders of the Lumad, the indigenous people of the southern Philippines have conferred on the pope the formal title “Apo Edsila,” honoring him as an elder (apo) with the descriptive “light” (edsila).
Last night, reporters asked Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila what he, the pope and 30 survivors of Typhoon Yolanda had for lunch yesterday in Palo. The cardinal said there was some kind of soup, but he wasn’t paying attention to the food and didn’t have time to eat as he translated what the survivors were telling the pope. The Philippine Star has the menu details: moringa soup and chicken inasal “in which the meat is marinated in turmeric, lemon grass and other flavorings before being grilled.”