Crowds greet Pope Francis in Manila

This story appears in the Francis in the Philippines feature series. View the full series.

by N.J. Viehland

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Filipinos came in droves to line streets of Manila, where Pope Francis' motorcade breezed through the 14 miles from Villamor Air Base to the nunciature on Taft Avenue.

The sidewalks beyond the barricades from the corner of Taft near the nuncio's residence down Roxas Boulevard were teeming with people hours before the expected 5:45 p.m. landing of the plane that carried him from Sri Lanka.

Some people, like Gladys Silvano, told NCR she arrived at 3 a.m. It was her day off as a cashier in a restaurant, and she wanted to make sure she found a spot that would give her clear view.

For those who could not see:


A woman and her family watched papal events on her cellphone and announced to the eager crowd what action was going on at the airport and motorcade.

Many brought their whole family:


Members of the Villareal family had matching shirts printed with Pope Francis' face in front and each family member's name on the back.


Khiel, 3, said he came with his mother to see "Lolo [Grandfather] Pope."

President Benigno Aquino III declared Jan. 15, 16 and 19 special nonworking holidays in Metro Manila, but there were people who could not afford this break:


KC Farrales traveled about 100 miles from Bataan province to see the pope. She joined a group selling welcome banners, and by 3 p.m., she had sold 300. The eight members of the group sold 2,000 banners total.


Peanut vendor Joel Fida earned than 2,000 pesos (U.S.$45) by 11 a.m., which was more than double what he normally sells daily. He and his family waited so his wife and two children could see Pope Francis.

Relatives and friends helped people bound to wheelchairs to see the "pope who loves sick people."


Wennie Patino, a 63-year-old former tailor with a growth in his spine, came along with his wife.

Despite all strategies, the motorcade drove faster than expected, and many, like Ellen Casinto, said they were disappointed not to have seen the pope. Others said going to the streets was worth it just the same because they had fun and felt blessed to be near the pope.

All photos by N.J. Viehland

[N.J. Viehland is NCR's Manila correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: @njviehland.]

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