by Elisha Marie Blando, GREEN FM field reporter
It isn’t the usual scene in Baclaran – the majestic frontage of the Baclaran Church was clearly seen and not blocked by vendors, the foul smell of urine was not present, the trash that used to dominate Baclaran grounds were cleared, and street dwellers were nowhere to be seen – all of these were done as a protocol for Pope Francis’ motorcade which will pass by Baclaran road from Villamor Airbase, where the Papal airplane landed.
The pope is scheduled to arrive by 5:45 in the evening but as early as 12 noon, the crowd started to mass up all over Baclaran.
Volunteers who will serve as human barricades, behind the concrete barricades also went to their posts early in the afternoon, flanking the road where the papal convoy will pass through.
People looked for the best spots to see the Pope.
Some were standing on the plant boxes in the middle of the road, some were on the overpass, and some on the other side of the road.
Some passersby who apparently did not have any intention of welcoming the pope did not expect that public utility vehicles were already restricted in the area so they had to walk either to Coastal Terminal, or Mall of Asia to get a ride.
Policemen from the Quezon City Police District were deployed in the area for crowd control which seemed unnecessary given that people were behaving and staying in line.
Several traffic management teams led by NCRPO Director Carmelo Valmoria passed through the area of the motorcade routes. Gen. Valmoria’s inspection caused a commotion as he brought with him armed policemen to clear out people on the bay side of Baclaran. People were complaining, saying that they stayed in the area believing that it is allowed and that if they transfer to the other side they would only waste their time since the best spots were already occupied.
People were bursting out as the authorities declared prohibition on the bay side.
“Sana sinabi niyo na kanina pa para nakapwesto na kami dun sa kabila! (You should have told us earlier so we would have gone to the other side!), ” blurted an irate bystander who has been waiting in line since noon.
Vendors and the public were forced by armed policemen to vacate the place. Some elderly people asked if they could stay since it would be hard for them to cross the overpass but the policemen still insisted on clearing the area, leaving only the police from QCPD and some media men.
Everytime the policemen would line up, cheers were heard from the crowd.
At exactly 6:44 PM, the Papal convoy with the Pope riding the Popemobile passed by. Pope Francis had a huge smile on his face, waving and blessing the people who waited and welcomed his visit to the Philippines.
The crowd dispersed peacefully right after the Papal entourage passed by on their way to the Apostolic Nunciature in Taft Avenue where the Pope will reside while in Manila.