Aug 232014
Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines this coming January may take on a stronger Filipino flavor as organizers consider ferrying him around in a jeepney.

Former Ambassador to the Holy See Henrietta de Villa, a member of the preparatory committee, said this is one of the options they are considering.

“Nothing is fixed yet… I’m not actually the one in charge of this but I think there are suggestions for a jeepney that is open on top,” De Villa said, according to an article posted Saturday on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Philippines Jan. 15 to 19. He is expected to visit areas devastated by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013.

The jeepney is a modified jeep used for public transport in the Philippines. Many jeepneys use modified diesel engines and custom-built bodies.

In 1995, a modified Asian utility vehicle (AUV) was used as the Popemobile for the papal visit of now Saint John Paul II.

De Villa said the idea of a jeepney being the next Popemobile stemmed from Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea, where he rode a locally built vehicle.

“So maybe it would be better for him to use jeepney here,” she said.

But she added the pope has so far not made any request as far as vehicles are concerned, though “all arrangements will still be finalized” this November.

If Vatican protocol officials approve a jeepney as the next Popemobile by November, de Villa said there will be enough time to build it.

“I don’t think that will be a problem because if ever we have two months to make it, we can make it. It’s not a problem,” she said. Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

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