Jeepney inspired Popemobile for Manila Visit
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said “Here in Manila, we will have the jeepney-inspired popemobile for the use of the Holy Father. But we also have an alternate popemobile. Just in case something breaks down, we have a backup,” he said in an interview at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City. The third popemobile will serve as a backup in case one of the vehicles encounter problems.
The design of the jeepney inspired popemobile remains simple and accessible, in line with the requests of Pope Francis.
Filipino church officials earlier said the vehicle will be open and “not bulletproof” to accommodate the demands of the visiting church leader.
Pope Francis, who has shunned the pomp of his predecessors, earlier said he prefers to use open-top cars rather than the Vatican’s bulletproof “popemobile” used by previous pontiffs.
“It is true something could happen to me but let’s be realistic, at my age I do not have much to lose,” he said in June last year, adding that the popemobile made it hard to connect with the faithful.
The last pope to visit the Philippines, John Paul II, rode a white popemobile in 1995, where he waved to crowds from a glass, bulletproof cage at the back of the vehicle.
Papal visit organizers prepared three popemobiles for Pope Francis, who is arriving in the country on January 15.
“We cannot transport the popemobile in Manila to Tacloban so understandably we need a popemobile exclusively for Tacloban and Palo,” added Villegas.
Fr. David Concepcion, executive secretary of the Committee on Transportation for the Papal visit, earlier said that they prepared two popemobiles as there will not be enough time to transport it from Manila to Tacloban.
Villegas, the chairman of the Papal Visit Central Committee, said just like the two popemobiles, the third will also be open and not bullet proof. “It will be angel-proofed,” Villegas said with a smile.
The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate said one of the three vehicles will come from South Korea but did not say if this will be the alternate vehicle. “It will be shipped back to South Korea after [the
apostolic visit],” said Villegas.
The driver of the popemobile, Villegas said, will be part of the papal party. He said this is because the driver has to be familiar with the preferences of the pontiff.