Just several weeks before Pope Francis sets foot on Philippine soil, the Archdiocese of Palo said it is now in the process of selecting the lucky 30 would-be “papal lunch mates” who will dine with the pontiff on his visit to Tacloban City, Leyte, on January 17, 2015.
Fr. Cris Militante, media coordinator of the archdiocese for the papal visit, on Wednesday said they will ensure that choosing the lunch mates will be exercised with due fairness for a well-represented guest list.
He added that they are now closely coordinating with their Relief and Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) regarding the selection process for the pontiff’s lunch mates.
“At the moment, we are still in process of selection … We are constantly in touch with our RRU regarding the progress of selection,” Militante said.
“They [Palo RRU] are trying their best to choose people, not only those who had survived [Typhoon] Yolanda, but even of other calamities, so that [sectors]will be well-represented,” he added.
Militante said some representatives of earthquake survivors in Cebu and Bohol are expected to dine with Francis.
On January 17, the pope is expected to visit Tacloban after arrival at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
He will say Mass near the Tacloban Airport.
After the Mass, Francis will have lunch with the poor and survivors of calamities at Gonzagahaus or the residence of the Archbishop of Palo in Palo, Leyte.
He will then bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor in Palo, where he will meet with priests and women and men Religious at Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, Palo Cathedral.
A few hours later, the pope will leave for Villamor Air Base.
Palo Archbishop John Du said Francis wanted to be with the poor and survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, not with VIPs.
He added that the pontiff had expressed the desire to stay away from politicians and “VIPs” as much as possible.
Robert Cabilte, a teacher of San Jose Central School in Palo, said, “No VIP should get near the pope because everybody is equal.”