What is route of the pope going to Luneta? We want to make sure we get a better glimpse of him by positioning ourselves where the motorcade will pass.

The authorities are still mapping out the routes for all the events during the papal visit, and will most likely disclose the details very close to or during the visit itself. But if you noticed the past papal visits, the pope’s motorcade never passes through side streets—only through main roads.  Your planning might be helped by knowing the itinerary of the Pope, which was announced at a press conference last November 14.  You may find and copy it from the official website, www.papalvisit.ph.

The news said that in Korea, Pope Francis rode an ordinary Kia car. Will the Pope ride a bulletproof popemobile in the Philippines?  

This is a most repeated question especially by reporters during press briefings. And the answer is always “Nobody knows”.  It may be top secret but one thing sure, Pope Francis wants nothing ostentatious or pricey.  He likes touching people, and since this pope— besides being so “makamasa”—has been known to be a “pope of surprises” we won’t be surprised if he turns up in an open and very Pinoy dyipni.

After Mass the other day, the priest said we should hurry to secure tickets to places where the pope will appear but didn’t say how. Where we may apply for these tickets?

No tickets are issued, given away, or sold by the Papal Visit organizers. Beware of anyone who tries to sell you passes, accreditation cards, or tickets to any papal visit event.  All events may be witnessed by the public, although the meetings with the particular interest groups (youth, inter-religious, families) will be participated in by pre-selected representatives.

Is the Mass with bishops, priests and consecrated persons at the Manila Cathedral open to the public? We hear that only invited persons may attend it.  We are religious sisters, but we are not invited.  How may we participate there and in the Luneta?   

You are right, since the cathedral can accommodate only so many, dioceses from all over the country will just be sending delegations to the event. However, as with other major liturgical celebrations held at the Manila Cathedral, whatever goes on inside will be projected on huge screens outside.  There will be tents with seats in front of the cathedral; be there early to find a comfortable niche before the crowd sets in.  It will be the same situation at the Eucharistic celebration in Luneta.  Try asking for assistance from your parish priest or bishop who might be planning to attend these public gatherings.

Is the Dialogue with the Youth at the UST open to the public? We are a youth group from Bacolod City, may we be given slots for this event?

The event is open to the public, but the quadrangle will be cordoned off and reserved for students who will be issued proper passes. You may obtain accurate information from the Chancery or the bishop’s office in Bacolod—they may be organizing youth groups to send to Manila.  For more details on the encounter with the youth at the UST, please inquire by calling the UST Office of Public Affairs, tel. (02) 731-3544.

When Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines, he went to UST. When Pope John Paul II came, he also visited the UST.  Now Pope Francis is coming, he will also visit the UST.  Why always UST?  How lucky can UST get?

This is a very good question from a rather perplexed inquirer. Here’s a brief explanation: the University of Santo Tomas is a pontifical university, directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff—the successor of Peter, the first pope. Aside from its function as a regular university, a pontifical university has a special mission of spreading the Gospel and promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The Rector of a pontifical university is appointed by the Vatican, and whenever the pope travels to a country where there is a pontifical university, it is his duty and pleasure to visit this university not only to see how it’s doing but also to inspire and encourage its students, faculty, and staff in their evangelization efforts.

We are from Mindanao and we are very interested in joining our Holiness Pope Francis at the meeting with the families at Mall of Asia. Is there any reservation to be made? May I know any contact person and number or how much do we pay for this special event?

The Meeting with Families will be attended by families pre-selected by the Dioceses. Your best source of information would be your own parish and the diocesan office, wherever in the Philippines you happen to be.   Your parish priest would be a proper conduit to the bishop, and should be able to provide specific answers to your questions.

According to the papalvisit.ph website, only professional journalists and photographers may be accredited to cover the event. I am editor-in-chief of our university’s paper, we are planning to cover the event; may we be allowed to apply?

You read the website right—only professional journalists will be accredited to cover the event. Yu may apply for accreditation but to be approved, applications undergo a tedious sifting process Enthusiastic staffers of school organs and university publications may, of course, mingle with the public and produce great human interest stories which may be published in the official website blog, or in their own blog, linked to papavisit.ph Facebook.

I’m from Malaysia, and would like to go to the Philippines during the pope’s visit. Are there any tour groups traveling from Malaysia to Philippines in January? 

None that we’ve heard of, although we have been told of Overseas Filipino Workers intending to come home for the pope’s visit. Why not ask around the travel agencies in your own place of origin, whatever country you’re coming from.  They would have up-to-date information, and if you wish to inquire about local tours in the Philippines, you may also request your agency to inquire and book for you.

A friend (Filipino) in Switzerland told me somebody has been raising funds for the papal visit, presenting a letter signed by Cardinal Tagle and another person, instructing them to deposit their donations to her account in the Philippines. A number of trusting and generous persons have donated, but my friend would rather follow the proper procedure.  Do you have an official bank account for receiving papal visit donations?

It’s good that your friend is asking first before parting with hard earned money. We are not sure about that fund-raiser in Switzerland, but should you or anyone you know wish to donate, the Papal Visit Finance Committee Executive Secretary Msgr. Clem Ignacio advises that you make all check donations payable to RCAM-PAPAL VISIT.
You may also deposit to Bank of Philippine Islands, BPI Current Account # 0051-0556-75, or to Security Bank, SB Savings Account #0061-015085-001. All donations are receipted, so when you deposit, kindly inform the Finance Committee by calling tel. (02) 527-2995, or emailing a copy of your deposit slip to finance.papalvisit@yahoo.com,
so that your contribution may be properly identified and receipted. For further inquiries, please fax or call the office of Msgr. Clem (02) 527-2995, and talk to Marla, Kish or Mildred.

Where will Pope Francis stay during his visit? Will it be    the Manila Hotel?  Besides being a historic hotel, it is in Luneta, faster and safer for the pope to get to the grandstand.

This is one of those things the papal visit organizing committee is mum about, for understandable security reasons. Yours is a thoughtful and practical suggestion, but we have no answer to your question. We can only echo the assurance Cardinal Tagle gave to the curious reporters at a press conference who posed the same question: “Tiyak, may matutulugan siya!”  (For sure, he will have a place to sleep).

I saw the itinerary on Facebook. I’m wondering why Malacanang is first on the list.  Is it more important than the Mass with bishops at the Manila Cathedral?  Pope Francis could also use more time to be with the poor.

The pope’s trip to the Philippines is both a state visit and a pastoral visit. Being the Head of State of the Vatican City State, the pope is also welcomed by the Head of State of the host country.  He will be given arrival honors, have bilateral talks with  President Aquino and address government officials and the diplomatic corps in Malacanang.  We should rejoice that Jesus in the person of Pope Francis will be welcomed and heard in the presidential palace.

Where may I buy Pope Francis’ book “Education for Choosing Life: Proposal for a Difficult Time” locally and what is the cost? I would like to give it to my son and my daughter-in-law, both high school teachers.

That’s a good gift idea, because this book contains messages to teachers given by Jose Cardinal Bergoglio when he was Bishop of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, that book may only be sold in the United States and Canada, according to the Ignatius Press website.

I and two others are customizing calendars for different parishes for commercial purposes. May I know if we may use the official logo of the papal visit?  A related question: I have a very small store and also print personalized t-shirts as a hobby. Can I print our beloved pope’s official logo on t-shirts and sell them to those who want so we can also wear papal shirts to show support for his visit to our country?

The official logo is copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes. So as not to dampen your enthusiasm, we respectfully suggest you create your own logos and designs bearing the essential elements of the visit, like the theme “Mercy and Compassion” coupled with an image of Pope Francis.  It will be a challenge to your inventiveness but your product will also be unique yours, something that might give you a greater sense of accomplishment.

How may we get a spot/booths where we may sell memorabilia at Luneta?

You may have to ask the Manila city government about this, if a special permit is required, or if you can just randomly pick a spot and sell your items. You may also inquire from the office of Bishop Pablo S. David, Holy Rosary Parish, Sto. Rosario St., Angeles City (Pampanga), tel. (45) 888-6355.  Bishop David is Chair of the Papal Visit Physical Arrangements Committee.

Where may we submit a quotation for portable toilets?

Try inquiring from the office of Msgr. Clem Ignacio who heads the Papal Visit Finance Committee, tel. 527-2995. You may also need permits from the Manila city health department since portable toilets affect sanitation.

Will the pope have a dialogue with HIV/AIDS patients? I hear that dioceses give access to PWD (Persons With Disabilities) but since I am not a PWD, I don’t ask to be included.

To date the visit’s program seems set, and there is no mention of a dialogue with HIV/AIDS patients. For your information, it is the Vatican who decides on the itinerary and all the pope’s activities during the visit.  Every week since last November 24, the Media Committee conducts press briefings at its general headquarters in the Knights of Columbus compound in Intramuros (across the NCCA offices).  Always present at these briefings is the head of the Media Committee, Bishop Mylo Vergara, with different panelists from the Church and the government each time, depending on the topic to be discussed.  The media then disseminate the latest updates; you may watch for them in the news, or visit www.papalvisit.ph for more information.