TACLOBAN CITY – A young volunteer from a village in this city said it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t see Pope Francis up close, as what matters more is helping others see the Holy Father.
Maria Ela Balitos, 16, is a high school student from Barangay San Paglaum, a remote village in Tacloban City.
She is one of the thousands of youth volunteering as ushers and usherettes, facilitators at the catechetical sites, and in charged of security and health services, among others, for the visit of Pope Francis in Leyte on January 17.
Balitos is one of the usherettes at the Tacloban airport, where Pope Francis is expected to hold a mass on Saturday.
“Expected kami didi for 48 hours. Waray katurugay. (We are expected to volunteer for 48 hours and we don’t expect to sleep until the Pope’s visit on Saturday),” she said.
Pope Francis arrived in Manila on Thursday afternoon from his three-day visit in Sri Lanka. He will fly to Leyte on Saturday to spend time with the survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“Gusto ko maging part hit history. Bisan diri ak makadaup kan Santo Papa, at least makabulig ako (I want to be part of history. I don’t expect to get near and see the Pope up close but at least I’m able to help.),” she said.
More than 300 choir members from different Leyte parishes also volunteered to sing at the papal mass on Saturday.
Two of them are Mary Ann Suyom, 62, the youngest among senior citizen choir members, and Sophia Cordero Bernadas, 78, the oldest among all choir volunteers.
Suyom and Bernadas, who are both survivors of Yolanda, said sharing their gift by singing for the Holy Father is their humble thanksgiving for surviving the deadliest typhoon in recent history.
Pope Francis is expected to share a meal with some of the typhoon survivors, bless the mass grave at the Palo Cathedral as well as the Center for the Poor. (Sunnex)