After a warm welcome at Manila, Pope Francis kicked off his visit to the Philippines meeting the country's political leaders.
He was highly escorted as he headed to the Presidential Palace. And though he didn't ride his Popemobile, thousands of Filipinos greeted him as he made his way along Manila's streets.
The country's President, Noynoy Aquino, was waiting for him at the gates of the Palace.
After signing the so-called "Golden Book”, he and the president met privately. Once the meeting ended, both leaders addressed the local authorities.
President of the Philippines
"The Filipino people, in whose name I welcome you today, ask for your blessing. May we find more mercy and compassion in our lives. Thank you.”
In his address, Pope Francis stressed that his visit to the Philippines has one main goal: showing his closeness to the victims of typhoon Haiyan.
"I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others.”
Typhoon Haiyan killed 6,000 people in the island. Pope Francis highlighted the solidarity of the Filipino people during the tragedy, and asked their politicians not to let them down.
"As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country.”
The Pope also asked them to fight any form of social exclusion of the poor, and added that they must always protect the right to life.
"We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.”
As a conclusion, the Pope hoped that the religious heritage of the country may boost its development. Before leaving the Presidential Palace, he blessed all the participants.