I happened to recover my previous blog. I will repost it with minimal edits so as not to destroy the momentum. I was laughing hard when I read it because of the lack of information compared to Roan’s blog. Anyway, no time for comparison now, here’s my own version of the 20th World Youth Day celebration.
Aug. 14, 2005
Call time in UST at 8am. We have to label all the bags and put numbers to it so that it will not be lost along the trip. We had our Send off Mass at 10am in the Central Seminary Chapel. At around 2pm, we went to the airport to check in our bags and waited for about 2-3hrs for our flight to Taipei. Since there is no direct flight from Manila to Frankfurt, we had to take connecting flights from Manila to Taipei then Taipei to Frankfurt.
In Taiwan airport, waiting for our flight to Frankfurt
We departed in Taipei around 11.30pm. We had our dinner and breakfast in the plane. China Airlines’ food was good. But I really don’t like the porridge. The plane was nice; we had our own blanket and pillows. It was in color purple that made it a lot nicer. We also had our own headsets. I watched 3 movies during the flight.
China Airline's in flight meal
By the way, it was a 15hr flight. Imagine that!
Aug. 15, 2005
We arrived in Frankfurt at 6:30am. Germany’s time zone is 6 hrs late to Manila time. We placed the luggage in the bus and we went straight to Heidelberg for the rainy morning tour! We saw Jose Rizal’s plaque and monument and realized why Rizal loved Heidelberg. He studied there and taught in a University. Everyone was in awe while we did our tour.
We also had our Rhine Cruise before we went to Dusseldorf, Saint Franciscus Xaverius Parish to be exact where we were supposed to meet our foster family. Upon arrival, there are delegates from different countries waiting for a place to stay. Luckily, we were adopted by Mr & Mrs. Helmut Vesper and let us stay in their Garden house. I was with Dhel, Bianca, Ate Jaymie and Ms. Thelma (who was our “mom” in the house). It was already 12mn that time and we were still wide awake because of the crowd’s energy. We realized we still need to rest since tomorrow will be the first day of the celebration. A lot of activities await us and we’re all very excited.
Aug. 16, 2005
First day of the World Youth Day (WYD) Celebration, our color for the day would be the White shirt. We ate our breakfast at home. We had the nicest home compared to others I suppose. Though it was quite small, still very much okay because we slept well with the comforters our “parents” provided and the fridge is full with one case of beer and carbonated water on the sides. The water that flows in their faucet was also potable! We had our own garden and fresh fruits and veggies are available. Eat all you can! Haha!
Forget Me Not flower
I also saw a “Forget me not” flower, the famous flower that Jose Rizal was talking about in his writings. Germany was clean, fresh air, disciplined people and most of the people living there have their own bicycles. They were all cyclist. They have this bicycle lane and people get mad if you walk on it.
LTU Arena for the Opening Mass
We had our morning prayers in the parish and off we go to the LTU Arena for the Opening Mass. By the way, we had our lunch along the way. No room for being picky and choosy in this kind of celebration!
Aug. 17, 2005
Our second day color would be the Orange shirt. We first had our yummy breakfast c/o Mommy Thelma. We’re so lucky we had her with us because she can cook very well. As for me, I’m not a good cook or should I rather say, I really don’t cook.
Breakfast care of Ma'm Thelma
We had our catechist and our speaker was Cardinal Francis of Chicago. Then we had some group dynamics and sharing with singing and dancing. We met a lot of young people all over the world. I also met a LOT of Filipinos!!! If you total the Filipinos who participated during that time it will probably sum up to 1000! We were so ecstatic when we see Filipinos based from different countries. When we see a fellow Filipino, it seems like we’ve known each other for quite some time already!
We also had a short tour of Dusseldorf, rode the train station in the afternoon and just strolled around the city. At 6pm, we celebrated the Wedding of Dra. Joy and Kuya Ivan. They met 10 years ago and also during the World Youth Day celebration held in Manila. It was simple yet very intimate. They had their foster parents as their parents and everyone were included in the entourage. Bulacan delegates were also there as sponsors and witnesses. It was nice and fun even though we were all exhausted with the day’s activity.
Wedding of Dra. Joy and Kuya Ivan
After the ceremony, we had our “reception” in the garden area of the center. Their Filipino friends brought RICE! That time, we felt like being deprived of eating rice since the German’s staple food is bread. Well, lucky for us in the Garden house, our foster parents bought rice for us since they knew that it was our staple food. How thoughtful, right? I haven’t mentioned yet, our fridge was refilled everyday with yogurts, bread and drinks! Woot Woot!
Aug. 18, 2005
Third day color would be the Blue shirt. We had another day of catechism with the other youth. The speaker was the Cardinal of Jamaica. The one who was voted to be the next Pope. We had our pictures taken and his autograph too. One remarkable statement I got from him was “what is greater than a MASS is another MASS”. After hearing that, I appreciated attending mass every day.
Cardinal of Jamaica
We were supposed to go to Cologne, Germany to welcome the Pope. However, since that was tomorrow’s main event, some of us opt to tour the Old City of Dusseldorf. So the group was divided and you choose where you want to join. I, of course chose the latter.
strolling in Dusseldorf's Old City
It was a fabulous city with the architectures that I only see in the movies. I can’t believe I’m seeing them in my own eyes. It was beautiful and everyone enjoyed the walking tour we had. We ate lunch there (with our own baons) and tried McDonald’s too!
McDonalds in Germany
We also got to know a Filipina who is already living there. Ate Marie was there for almost 6 years already. She’s already married and has kids. We managed to stay connected thru snail mails and now thru Facebook. We were lucky to find good hearted Filipino settlers in Germany.
Ate Marie, Me, Kylie and Ma'm Thelma
Aug. 19, 2005
Fourth day color would be the Cream shirt but some of us got confused so some wore their Green shirts. Haha!
Train Station in Cologne, Germany
We were scheduled to go to Cologne and visit the Koln Cathedral. We rode the train going there and I thought I’ll die of exhaustion that day because the train was so packed with delegates. Upon arrival in Cologne, we also saw someone from the Philippine media.
Door of Cologne Cathedral
The delegates all over the world went to see the gigantic cathedral. The structure was amazing, the detailed carvings on the door, the way they designed the cathedral. It was beautiful. You can get a stiff neck looking at the ceilings and all the designs on the walls. We prayed the rosary and prayed for our intentions after the Cathedral tour.
Since we’re waiting for the Pope to arrive, we strolled around the area and get to meet other delegates too. I decided to walk around the vicinity without asking permission but asked some to join me. I was positive that we won’t get lost that time and that decision made our day! We managed to see the Pope mobile that afternoon. It was crazy, really! We were the ones who get to see the Pope in his mobile. Others I think weren’t able to see him because they re-routed where the mobile will pass. Everyone was jumping with joy and screaming their hearts out when they saw the Pope. We did jump for joy when we saw the mobile passing our way.
Aug. 20, 2005
Fifth Day color would be the Green shirt. It’ll be our last day with our foster family. The farewell was sad but we were happy that we spent the week with them and were treated nicely. We had our breakfast in the garden as a celebration and farewell ritual too I guess and fixed our things afterwards. We made a small thank you corner for our foster parents and they appreciated it so much. They even gave us souvenirs too when we left.
Our foster parents: Mr & Mrs Helmut Vesper
We’re off to Marienfeld for the Vigil. The Pope will celebrate mass the next day which will be the culmination of the WYD. We went to meet the whole UST delegation in Xavier Parish before going to the field.
Xavier Parish before going to Marienfeld
We walked 5 km from the drop off point to the field. Transportations were not allowed to enter so we have to walk. It was very tiring considering we have our backpacks with us. We were singing and laughing while walking that’s why we didn’t notice that we are almost near the area.
When we arrived, I put down my bags in post B14 since it was near the stage. However, there was no space available for everyone so we went looking for a place big enough to accommodate us all. We were set to post F11. It was a bit far from the stage but there were lots of screens in the field so we can also see what’s happening on stage.
Post F11 with other delegates
It was a night full of music, dancing people, enjoying each other’s company, mingling with different cultures and of course a prayerful one too. You can see the faith and energy of the people around you celebrating and worshipping the Lord. It was a good feeling, an enlightenment I suppose. We really had a good time since we all slept at around 3am already.
We spent the cold night in the field. Everyone was inside their sleeping bags and curled because of the cold wind. Everyone’s strong enough to endure the night’s weather.
Aug. 21, 2005
Last day color would be the Yellow shirt representing the University’s color. Since we can’t take a shower there, we just replaced the shirt we used the day before and used the yellow one.
Morning of the WYD
This is the day everyone is waiting for, the World Youth Day itself. The Pope celebrated the Mass and everyone was so happy and excited. You can see the love of the Youth for the Holy Father even if it’s not PJP II. It was the first WYD celebration after PJP II’s death. It was the first WYD that Pope Benedict XVI celebrated with the youth all over the world. It was overwhelming and people were cheering “BENEDICTO” all the time.
Going back to our bus
After the Mass, we started to walk back to the bus area to avoid the crowd walking all at the same time. While walking, we can still here the Pope’s message since speakers were installed everywhere. The Pope said his message in 10 different languages including Filipino Language. He said, “Sa mga kabataang Pilipino, kayo ang nanggaling sa malayong silangan tulad ng mga pantas upang maging mga saksi dalhin ninyo pabalik sa inyong bansa ang pag-ibig ng Diyos.”It was impressive and touching at the same time. We were so happy and were cheering at the top of our voices while walking. I can’t forget how he spoke Filipino clearly with no German accent. Truly, a gift from God.
The WYD 2005 was a great experience for me. A pilgrimage of a lifetime. It was marvelous that I saw God’s love through other people. The moments we experienced, the blessings and graces we received and everything we had there were priceless. The faith, the wisdom, the love and the energy of the people around me makes me feel alive, blessed and anew. I will never forget this celebration and will forever be etched in my heart. I will evermore thankful and grateful to my parents and friends who have helped me raise money to be part of the group.
Yes, my trip was made possible because of my sponsors who are mostly my relatives, some from my parents and my savings since elementary. It was my first international trip and I’m happy I spent my savings for a good cause. Now I really don’t know if I can still afford going to any World Youth Day celebrations in the next years. The Pope announced that the next WYD will be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2013. We’ll see then if I’ll be part of it.
Check out the rest of the pictures in this album: