No sale of tickets for pope’s visit – UST

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - No tickets are being sold for Pope Francis’ visit to the University of Santo Tomas on Jan. 18, 2015, a university official has clarified.

UST public affairs office head Giovanna Fontanilla yesterday said they have been receiving inquiries on where to get the tickets for the papal visit.

“They should just come to the UST. It is one rare opportunity to see the Holy Father,” Fontanilla said.

She said university officials have been crafting ways to beef up security inside and around the campus with the expected influx of devotees.

Fontanilla said the number of youth delegates to the Meeting with the Youth is 24,000.

The UST football field and grandstand are reserved for the delegates who belong to the Archdiocesan Commission on the Youth, Episcopal Commission on the Youth, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines and participants from the Second Philippine Conference of New Evangelization.

“We have aligned security measures to make sure that the pope is safe, the public, the students as well as the Thomasian community. We have also adopted security measures like scanners that when you enter the university you would be free from any foreign thing,” UST university event coordinator Monalisa Perez said.

“We have also coordinated with the different security agencies, the Vatican security, Presidential Security Group and different sectors of the country in charge of the security of the pope,” she added.

She said 10 walk-through scanners and bomb-sniffing dogs are additional security measures that will be implemented.

No umbrellas please

Perez advised the public against bringing umbrellas aside from the usual prohibited items so as not to obstruct the view of those who want to see the pope.

Perez said mobile phones might be allowed, but cameras are discouraged, adding not everyone could bring video cameras.

She said the pope’s visit is expected to draw the largest number of outsiders to the university.

“We are already beginning to feel the tension. But we would like to believe that God’s grace, mercy and compassion would be above all of us,” Perez said when asked if security would be a problem.

She said there would be specific gates for youth participants while the public can enter through the Forbes gate.

She reminded those planning to camp outside the campus that the roads two blocks away from UST gate will be closed.

Program of activities

Fontanilla said a pre-program – praying the rosary, practicing songs and cheers for the pope and sharing of faith – would start at 6:30 a.m. to prepare the youth for their encounter with the pope.

The pope is expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m. while the enthronement of the cross is in progress. A liturgy that includes Bible readings, responsorial psalm and gospel would follow.

Three selected youth representatives – college student, out-of-school youth, Typhoon Yolanda volunteer – would also give their testimonies.

The pope would then deliver his message, with the prayers and intercession given by seven youth representatives in seven different languages.

Also part of the program would be the Angelus to be led by the pope. He would leave the campus around noon.

Before the Meeting with the Youth, the pope would meet with inter-religious leaders for about 15 minutes. The inter-religious leaders are Nektarios Tsilis (Orthodox Church), Hsing Yun (Buddhism), Eliyahu Azariah (Judaism), Rajesh Sharma (Hinduism), Ephraim Fajutagana (Christian), Cesar Vicente Punzalan III (Evangelical Church), Julkipli Wadi (Islam), Imam Ebra Moxsir (Islam), Lilian Sison (Catholic) and Reynato Puno (Philippine Bible Society).

It will be fourth time that the UST hosts a pontiff after Pope Paul VI on Nov. 28, 1970 and Pope John Paul II on Feb. 18, 1981 and on Jan. 13, 1995.

Open to flight operations

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced that flight operations are open during the pope’s arrival and departure, but will be subject to “certain limitations.”

MIAA general manager Jose Honrado said major roads around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport complex would be closed to vehicular traffic, but NAIA could be accessed through South Superhighway, Bicutan, Sucat and Alabang roads.

Honrado said it was agreed during a series of meetings with local and foreign air carriers to suspend the arrival and departure of flights only on certain hours. These are from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 and from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 19.

“We shall be providing shuttle buses to transport departing passengers with flights in NAIA terminals 3 and 4 via airside road network,” Honrado said.

He said the departure and arrival lobby at NAIA Terminal 3 will also be closed to non-passengers before the road closure hours.
Media affairs head Connie Bungag said that they are encouraging the “drop and go” system to give well-wishers and those picking up passengers ample time to leave the Terminal 3.

MIAA called on passengers who have flights on Jan. 15 and 19 to contact their airlines or travel agencies for their revised flight schedules.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) assured the airlines that they cannot be held liable for any delay or cancellation of flights because the “situation is beyond their control.”

Bungag also advised departing passengers on the said dates to come to the airport earlier for them to reach their respective terminals before the road closure hours.

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the papal visit also signifies the visit of Jesus to the Philippines.

In his Christmas message, Villegas said that when Pope Francis comes, “he brings to us Jesus Himself.”

“He comes to us to pay homage to Christ who is already in our country even before the start of the papal visit,” he said. “What a wonderful moment of grace.”

Villegas said Christmas this year carries an added reason for excitement because of Pope Francis’ visit. – With Rudy Santos, Eva Visperas



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