University of Santo Tomas , Manila-Philippines
Pope Francis visit to the University of Santo Tomas
When the pastoral visit of Pope Francis was announced in the last quarter of 2014, People from all walks of life started to look for Pope-related memorabilia or would just like a memento of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit, vendors and shops have plenty of items for you. Catholic Trade in Tayuman started selling Pope Francis calendars, t-shirts and books became popular items.
Dapitan street crowd
I woke -up early at around past 3:30am and commuted from Quezon City to Dimasalang street. When i arrived past 5:00am , long lines already greeted me. Some of the eager crowd where already camping along the vicinity of University of Santo Tomas the day before , while pension houses and dormitories are also cramped with visiting pilgrims and relatives .
Mr. Alfonso Cruz together with his family
I accidentally met Mr. Alfonso Cruz ( stamp and memorabilia collector) . He left his home at around past 2:00am in Malabon City together with almost all the members of his family. He wanted to be blessed by the Pope.
University of Santo Tomas campus ( Gate 10)
Ordinary people had to fall in line along Dapitan street and long line that stretches for more more than a kilometer-long.
a devotee holding santo niño
An ambulant vendor selling Pope Francis key chain
Pope Francis button pins
There are so many kinds of button pins for sale along the Papal route. They are priced between Php 20 to Php 30 each depending on the area .
Some vendors would sell them at a slightly discounted rate of 3 button pins for Php 50 .
calendars and towels
Calendars are being sold from Php 30 to Php 100 depending on the size and materials
Pope Francis t-shirts
In this part of the Sampaloc , T-shirts were selling from Php 150 to Php 300 depending on the sizes and quality of the shirt.
Pope Francis T-shirts
Pope Francis towels and handkerchiefs
Pope Francis busts, key chains and rosaries
Pope Francis foldable fans
Pope Francis calendars
special response unit
Unlike the 1995 Papal visit of then Pope John Paul 2 , the security protocols are quite strict. Even the nearby condominium units and residential areas were not spared from the inspection and manning by the security forces by PNP, baranggay and volunteer groups.
I met a group of students waiting patiently in line and using their mobile camera to record everything. They are standing along España corner Moret street in Sampaloc.
army in fatigue uniforms
Despite the large crowds and strict security protocols , Some still manage to brought umbrellas and pointed objects .
crowd eagerly waiting for the arrival of the pope
It was very festive and almost everyone is very happy . I met a small contingent from San Mateo , Rizal
Mr. Angelo Diego Castro
I also met some celebrities along the papal route, One of them is Mr. Angelo Diego Castro , a popular teenage celebrity in the mid 1990’s . His daily show and weekly shows includes Gimik, Esperanza and TGIS in ABS-CBN channel 2 and GMA channel 7. He is the son of ABS-CBN channel 2 anchor Mr. Angelo Castro, Jr and EDSA People Power 1986 radio announcer Ms. June Keithley Castro. I think he is together with his wife and immediate friends.
University of Santo Tomas -Gate # 4
It started to rain by the time Pope Francis and his convoy entered the main gate , Everybody shouted on top of their lungs and took their gadgets to record the momentous occasion. Some older people even started crying, It was not in despair or anguish . But it was tears of joy and celebration.
We waited for more several hours and under the rains. Nobody complained , But i saw several people that fainted . According to one devotee ” Para kang nakarating sa Roma” It is like you have went to Rome .
people walked from UST en-route to Luneta via Quezon Avenue underpass
I was able to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis visit to the University of Santo Tomas and his route along Quirino Avenue . The busy street of Manila is a beehive of people. My.conservative crowd estimate within UST , Dapitan, Lacson , España and Governor Forbes would easily be more than 200,000 from 5:00am to past 12noon.
The problem with big events like Papal visit , transportation like LRT is full to its capacity and LRT Quirino station is – NO loading and Unloading zone ( for security purposes). We have to wait for more than 30 minutes at the Doroteo station , so we decided to walk the Rizal Avenue going to Luneta.
Santa Cruz bridge or Mac Arthur bridge
Alternative transportation such as tricycles, pedicabs, kalesas ( horse drawn carriage) became a hit, normally they are banned from plying major street thoroughfares .
message to Pope Francis collage within Plaza Lawton / Liwasang Bonifacio
The rains are not strong but the cool air Northeast Monsoon ( Amihan ) that worries some people.
News 9 crew stationed near Finance Building ( National Museum for Filipino People )
Poncho type raincoats were also a big- hit among the rain drench crowd. They are sold between Php 35 ( ordinary ones ) to Php 200 .
crowd waiting near LRT Quirino station
Pope Francis block of 4 Php 10 each
Philippine Postal Corporation and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also started to sell commemorative stamps and coins to mark the special occasion.
Pope Francis coinage stamps with face value of Php 200
This is a collective voice from a lot of ordinary stamp , coin and memorabilia collectors , We had to endure long lines just to buy stamps at the main post office, We have to wait for several days from January 12,13, 14 just to purchase the much coveted coinage stamp from Manila Central Post Office . We also had to endure a non-responsive email from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for our short list of orders . While the author got several hundreds of email from fellow stamp and even coin collectors asking where to buy or asking the author to buy for them .
Php 50 coin being sold at Php 100 and Php 500 being sold at Php 1,000 by BSP
I also got some angry responses from fellow stamp collectors residing even in Metro Manila that their local post offices did not even have the Pope Francis stamps. We all know that there is already a steady decline in the stamp collectors nationwide. BUT this is different , I personally believe that distribution to local post offices is the key to the solution . MORE stamp printed , the More people from all walks of life can enjoy the hobby.
In a recent television interview by a well-known stamp collector/ dealer ( one at ANC channel and another one at Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho ) . The prices of the stamps had already doubled and even tripled from the face value of the item. ( Some greedy bunch of grumpy people )
* Note: With the mad frenzy for Pope Francis memorabilia items , We collectors must always remember that the main purpose of his visit to the country is Mercy and Compassion . Learn to share whatever small items and blessing that we received .
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas : http://www.bsp.gov.ph/
Philippine Postal Corporation :https://www.phlpost.gov.ph/