Hail Mary’s abounded on the 14 hour flight to Manila as there were a couple of instances of bad turbulence! We landed in a very humid Manila and warmly greeted by NASSA staff Jing and Gen who accompanied us to our hotel.
Monday was a rest day so we took time to wander the neighbourhood Intramuros, heading for Manila Cathedral for 12.15 Mass. The various modes of transport are fascinating; bicycle’s with sidecars, motor bikes with sidecars, jeepneys. All uniquely decorated.
The narrow lanes of Intramuros were busy with pedestrians, vehicles and animals; scrawny dogs and cats, cockerels on leashes secured to walls and gates. We passed the Seaman’s Mission; a large group sitting on the steps passing the time of day while another large group smartly dressed waiting to be collected to be taken to the port.
Outside the Cathedral we chatted to students visiting Manila for the day and then made our way inside. The side chapels are filled with statues and displays and I took a photo of Our Lady Help of Christians to send to my Salesian school friends. TV screens are attached to every pillar and the congregation gathered on the benches near the large fans. The Mass was in English with the hymns in Filipino and it was comforting to feel part of the universal church. After Mass we chatted to a group of Sisters – Daughters of Charity from Indonesia are on mission in the Philippines serving marginalised families in an area north of Manila.
We slowly made our way back to the hotel; no need to rush in the heat and the humidity! Tomorrow we meet the staff of our partner, NASSA/Caritas Philippines, and begin the work we have come to do. Pagpalain ka ng Diyos!