Pope on the road to Metro Manila via ‘dyipmobile’
Pope Francis in a jeepney during his visit to the country in January? Well, why not?
Organizers of the much-anticipated papal visit next year are seriously thinking of offering the country’s original “King of the Road” as a mode of transportation for the Pope who, during his recent trip to South Korea, had opted to ride compact, locally made cars instead of luxurious vehicles befitting his station.
Former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa said the committee in charge of the popemobile was thinking of using the popular Filipino vehicle to bring Pope Francis around during his stay in Metro Manila.
“I think they are thinking of a jeepney as a popemobile, but without the roof. But nothing is fixed yet,” De Villa told reporters on Friday.
The Pope is expected to arrive in the Philippines on Jan. 15 and is scheduled to fly to Leyte province on Jan. 17 to mingle with survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” The rest of his visit will be spent in Manila.
“The jeepney is just a suggestion since in Korea, the Pope rode small, Korean-made cars. So maybe it’s good to let him use the jeepney here as well,” said De Villa, adding that organizers floated the idea after the Holy Father ditched luxury vehicles in favor of a compact, dark gray Kia Soul and a white Hyundai Santa Fe during his five-day trip to South Korea last week.
But so far, the organizers have yet to receive word from the Vatican about the Pope’s choice of vehicle, she added.
Among the organizers for the papal visit are the Archdiocese of Manila, led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), under the helm of CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
Should Pope Francis prefer to ride the lowly jeepney, De Villa said two months would be enough to prepare and customize the vehicle.
“We will just have to remove the roof, [and] Filipinos are fast workers,” she added.
De Villa said they would know the Pope’s preference once the team from the Vatican returns to the country in November to finalize arrangements for the Pope’s first visit to the country.
“That’s when they will formalize the events, the Pope’s schedule and all the peripherals [including his transportation],” she said.
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