LA Pinoys prepare to leave for PH during pope visit

LOS ANGELES – With their statues and figurines…Pinoys in Historic Filipinotown’s Saint Columban church celebrated an annual catholic tradition: the Santo Niño procession.

“It’s very exciting because I miss my place Cebu,” said Inday Soloman. “I’m from Cebu where santo niño has miracles.”

This year’s Sinulog celebrations have taken on a special meaning as Pope Francis will visit the Philippines this week.

“Very exciting because he’s coming back from the tour in Visayas and a stop in Manila,” said Lorie Lee. “I wish I can go home.”

It’s been 20 years since the last papal visit. Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines twice in 1981 and 1995.

“I remember the pope visit 1980, 81,” said Nestor Balila, President of the Cebu Brotherhood Inc. “It was crazy, a lot of people.”

Father Henry Hernando remembers being a young seminarian when Pope John VI visited the Philippines in the 1970s.

“You feel animated, motivated and he’s a representative of the Lord,” said Father Hernando. “Also, the feeling should be happy and close, because he’s the representative on earth, the vicar of Christ.

Traditionally the Sinulog is celebrated during the third week of January, but Los Angeles Cebuanos like to get an early start because many of them go to Cebu for the main celebration.

This year, they’re hoping to catch Pope Francis during their annual Sinulog trip.

“There will be a lot of people going home in fact 50 percent of my members are coming home just to attend the mass of the pope,” said Father Hernando.

While the papal visit is a momentous occasion in itself Filipino Catholics believe it’s even more special as the visit comes during a season of religious celebrations such as the Sinulog as well as the Nazareno.

You can contact Steve Angeles at and follow him on Twitter @stevieangeles for more information.

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