The resilient people of the country, which was hit by Typhoon Haiyan – one of the strongest ever to form on planet Earth – in 2013 and most recently by Typhoon Hagupit in December, put aside their miseries to give the Holy Father a grand welcome.
In fact, the Filipino Catholics have always welcomed popes in spectacular fashion since 1970.
As of 2010, there were about 76 million Catholics living in the Philippines (almost 80 percent of the total population.) That's roughly the same as the number living in the United States, according to PEW Research Center.
Pope Francis is apparently extremely popular in the Philippines. According to a PEW poll:
“Nearly nine-in-10 Filipinos overall (88 percent) – including 95 percent of Filipino Catholics – say they view the pope favorably. In fact, more than half of the country’s people (56 percent) view Francis very favorably.”
There is, therefore, little wonder why the country is displaying so much enthusiasm in its preparations to welcome the Supreme Pontiff.
Local companies are selling Pope Francis dolls, T-shirts, posters, limited edition post-stamps, key chains, necklaces and biscuits.
British artist Peter Pinder has painted a miniature statue of the pope, which he sculpted with fiberglass and cold cast bronze materials, at his house in Benguet province, north of Manila. Each miniature statue costs 6,000 pesos ($136).
Even a musical I (Heart Sign) Pope Francis, based on the life of Pope Francis, has been playing in Angeles City for a month now. It aims to draw more young people to the church.
"You entertain, you evangelize and at the same time, it's also a vocation campaign for young audiences who want to become priests or nuns some day," show director Andy Alviz stated in an interview.
Security, however, will be a main issue as more than 6 million people are expected to attend an outdoor Mass on Jan. 18.
Around 2,000 traffic officers on duty during Pope Francis’s visit to Manila have reportedly been ordered to wear adult diapers so as to avoid leaving their assigned positions on the streets and roads at all costs.