PALO, Leyte: When Pope Francis dines with 30 poor survivors of recent destructive natural disasters in the country, no politician will be allowed inside the Archbishop Residence in Leyte.
Pope Francis, known for his simplicity, down-to-earth attitudes and fondness of the poor, wanted to devote his time talking and eating with those who survived typhoon Yolanda in Leyte and Samar and the earthquake in Bohol province.
“We encourage local government officials to be at the airport to welcome Pope Francis, attend mass and join the meeting at the Cathedral. It would be impossible for them to be at the Archbishop’s Residence from the airport since roads are closed,” said Palo Archbishop John Du.
Aside from the survivors, two floors of the Residence in Arado village, about 12 kilometers away from Tacloban City, will be opened for dining of about 100 members of the Pope’s entourage and the archdiocesan personnel.
The archdiocese will set up limited number of chairs and tables inside the residence hall intended for the Pope’s entourage and selected staff and workers of the residence and chancery.
The 50-square-meter dining room will be exclusive for the lunch of Pope Francis with the survivors. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Bishop Du will be joining them.
Of the 30 survivors, five will come from Bohol; five from Eastern Samar; five from Samar province and 15 from Tacloban City and nearby towns of Palo, Tolosa and Tanauan, in Leyte.
“We have a list, but we have an order from the national committee not to reveal their names,” said Fr. Chris Arthur Militante, the archdiocese information and social communications officer.
The archdiocese will serve lechon (roasted pig), pork adobo, malunggay and local tropical fruits in a lunch with the poor survivors.
In Cavite City, at least 300 individuals (91 families) who survived Yolanda and relocated to Cavite will request the Pope to pray for them and for their relatives lost to the deluge.
The survivors were adopted by Rosario, Cavite Mayor Jose” Nonong” Ricafrente Jr. and are given free housing, medical and hospitalization services and scholarships that are normally offered only to Rosario residents.
Rodhora Abeto, who is the first to become an adopted resident, said their relatives who survived and are still living in Leyte will need all the prayers and help they can get.
PNA WITH REPORTS FROM ROGELIO LIMPIN