MANILA - An honor.
This was how college student and citizen journalist Dana Jane Naval described her experience of covering Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines, as part of ABS-CBN News' special coverage.
A shot of Pope Francis waving to the crowd in Manila. Photo by Pope Patroller Georgette Prado
The pontiff left the country Monday morning after a five-day apostolic visit that drew record crowds despite bad weather, endeared him to Filipinos and generally recharged the faithful in this country composed mainly of Catholics.
Naval, recalling her experience, said: "Nagbigay si Pope Francis ng magandang halimbawa sa ating lahat. At mayroon din tayong kakayahan na magmahal ng ganoong ka-sincere sa ating kapwa, kahit hindi natin kamag-anak o kakilala."
"May kakayahan din tayong ngumiti nang nakakahawa dahil lahat tayo ay anak ng Diyos at lahat tayo ay nabubuhay dahil sa pag-ibig Niya," she said.
Naval was among citizen and campus-based journalists who went through a once-in-a-lifetime event and helped ABS-CBN News tell the complete story of the papal visit.
More than 500 pictures and videos have been sent by these citizen journalists -- dubbed as the "Pope Patrollers" -- ranging from pictures of those who waited hours just to get a glimpse of Pope Francis, to up-to-date reports on the crowd situation in the streets of Manila and Tacloban.
These images have been published on a special microsite on ABS-CBNnews.com, which harbored a detailed map of Pope Francis' several motorcade routes, and a page called "A Gallery of the Pope's People" -- a collection of images of devotees and their statements.
Pope Patroller Terence Jethro Pabellena shared about his experience: "Sa ilang araw na ako'y naging isang Pope Patroller, masasabi ko na I am very lucky, very proud, and very blessed dahil nakita ko at naramdaman ang presensya ni Pope Francis."
"Napagod, naligaw, pero lagi kong iniisip kung bakit ko ito ginagawa. Ito ay para magsilbi sa pagdating ng Santo Papa at para mas mapaigting pa ang pananampalataya ko sa Kanya," he added.
"Sana ma-bless niya ang ating bansa na sana maliwanagan ang isipan ng mga tao lalo na ng ating mga pulitiko." Photo by Pope Patroller Arjane Torres
The Gallery and the Papal Routes are in keeping with ABS-CBN’s intentions to give the big picture, as well as focus on those on the sidelines: those who waited hours just to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, and those who traveled thousands of miles for the occasion.
Bringing these types of stories is part of efforts to carry and highlight people’s experiences, in keeping with the importance given on the common man by Pope Francis, who has earned the moniker “People’s Pope.”
Calling on the help of citizen journalists is no stranger to ABS-CBN News. Its citizen journalism arm "Bayan Mo, IPatrol Mo" has been around since 2007, when it was still mainly an election-focused campaign, and aimed at harnessing the potential of social media to involve citizens in the story-telling, and solving of problems they encounter in their communities.