Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines Thursday to a red carpet welcome and cheering crowds on his first visit to the Philippines after two decades.
The head of the Roman Catholic church, Pope Francis landed at Villamor airbase in the Philippines on Thursday (January 15) where more than 80 percent of the people are Catholic. Philippine President Benigno Aquino welcomed Pope Francis along with 12 of his cabinet members. Pope Francis returns to Asia for the second time in less than six months, first traveling to Sri Lanka and now the Philippines to underscore his concern for inter-religious dialogue, poverty and the environment.
No arrival speech was given by the pope, who traveled in an open vehicle from the air base to Malacanang Palace in Manila, the president’s residence and office complex, passing tens of thousands of well-wishers who lined the route. Remarks are scheduled for Friday morning, however.
As many as 37,000 soldiers and police are on high alert for the pope’s visit, during which more than five million people are expected to attend and open air mass on Sunday.