Students from 19 Catholic schools in southern Metro Manila will have the privilege of performing a dance number for Pope Francis upon his arrival at Villamor Air Base on Jan. 15.
Since November, the students have been rehearsing a dance to the songs “Kapayapaan” and “Piliin mo ang Pilipinas.”
They number more than a thousand.
We asked some of these students what they would tell the beloved Pope—if they get the chance to talk to him.
“I would tell the Pope how lovely the Philippines is and that we’re blessed to have him here. It is a great honor to be part of the few who will get to dance for him. I hope his visit would strengthen the Catholic faith in the country.”—Valerie Pagdagdagan, 16, San Beda Alabang
“I would thank him for being an inspiration, especially to the youth. I would also give thanks to His Holiness for his generosity and for reaching out to the country.”—Maureen Duminario, 16, De La Salle Zobel
“I would ask him to include our desires and wishes in his prayers. In return, we will also pray for him as he has requested in his first appearance in the Vatican. I hope he enjoys his visit here.”—Derick John Bidaswa, 16, Mary, Mother of God Parochial School
“Thank you for visiting our country. Your presence uplifts our spirits after all the devastation we faced the past years. Your setting foot on Philippine soil is a source of inspiration. May you continue to pray for us to live as worthy children of our Heavenly Father.”—Patrixia Isabelle T. Tan, 12, Servite School
“Thank you Pope Francis for being here at a time when we need you most. You remind us of the virtues of mercy and compassion. Thank you for the opportunity to see you and inspiring the Catholic community to stand united. Please keep us in your prayers; we love you with all our hearts.”—Pau Fermin, 15, Paref Woodrose
“Thank you for teaching the world the true meaning of what it is to be Christian—that we must first manifest humility and compassion. Thank you for accepting homosexuals and welcoming them to the Church.”—Bianca Adriano, 16, St. Paul College Parañaque
“I would wish him a nice stay in the Philippines, and also to continue spreading the Word of God and bringing the Church not only to the poor but to the whole world. We, the youth, will do our part.”—Jade Kimberly Reosora, 15, Don Carlo Cavina School
“The humility you have shown to the world is exemplary and astounding, and has impacted not only the lives of Christians, but also of different religions. You continue to inspire us in upholding Christian virtues not only through words but also in action. Thank you, Holy Father, for your fervor, grace and love.”—Vicente Salvador Tan Gana III, 17, Paref Southridge School
“I would thank and commend him for breaking new ground in leading the Church, especially the youth and the marginalized. His own example has inspired me to do what’s right and best not only for me but also for those around me.”—Ma. Christina Llana, 16, Manresa School
“I would sincerely thank him for all he has done and for being down-to-earth and kindhearted. I like how he is leading the Church. Truly he is the one I want to emulate as I walk the path of knowing God.”—Mariah Hannah Salazar, 16, Veritas Parochial School
“I would let him know that he inspires me through his amiable ways, how he reaches out to people, especially the poor. I would also tell him to keep on praying for our country. Lastly, I would thank him for his prayers and efforts to promote peace.” —Miyuki Juanico, 15, Father Simpliciano Academy
“His coming to the Philippines is a huge blessing. The chance to welcome him and dance our hearts out for him is an honor and an experience that would be impossible to forget. I will ask him to include me, my family, friends and our country in his prayers. May he bless us to live peacefully and closer to God. And then I will say the biggest ‘thank you’ I can ever mutter.”—Michael Ian Marasigan, 15, San Roque Catholic School
“I would tell him how strong the Filipinos’ faith is. Despite of the conflicts and problems we encounter, we can still unite for the greater glory of God. I would also thank him for inspiring billions of people, and for showing us the kind of leader we should follow. May he pray for our country to surpass all the tribulations we are encountering.”—Celine Joy Abainza, 15, Mary Immaculate Parish Special School
“There are innumerable things I would like to talk to him about, but I’d sum it up in just one question: ‘How do I love people more?’ I believe the answer will help me become a better person and lead a better life.”—Justin Gabriel Chua, 15, Immaculate Heart of Mary College-Parañaque
“I would thank him for serving as an inspiration to everyone. He makes our faith stronger. He deserves a very warm welcome. I would also ask for a blessing from Pope Francis, and if this happens, for sure I’ll be one of the happiest persons on earth.”—Fatima Rances, 16, Our Lady of the Abandoned Catholic School
“I would thank him for being an inspiration. And on behalf of my school, I hope he continues spreading love to the less fortunate. And I would ask him what it’s like being the Pope.”—Joshua Allen Aya-ay, 16, St. Andrew’s School
“I would express my gratitude for giving Filipinos the opportunity to experience his presence amidst the country’s toughest struggles. I also want to tell him that he should continue exemplifying humility and kindness to all.”—Cassandra Diel Navarro, 16, St. Joseph’s Academy
“I would like to show him our culture and see how faithful Filipinos are to God. And I would not waste my time being shy. I would thank him for visiting the country and give him a hug.”—Camille Anne dela Cruz, 16, Mary Immaculate School
“His presence is a great eye-opener. Faith is slowly diminishing throughout the world, mainly because people fail to see the good around them. Having him in person is a big sign of hope that would spark faith in every Christian… Our dance performance is a gesture of thanks since the Philippines is a land of music, laughter and faith. I wish that Pope Francis would feel the warmth and happiness of a country that never ceases to believe in God.”—Camille Duka, 16, Sacred Heart School