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Pope John Paul II is dear to the hearts of Filipinos, especially Cebuanos, said Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu. “He came here for all of us,” Dakay said in reference to the pope’s visit to Cebu in 1981.

From the Mactan Cebu International Airport, Dakay recounted that the pope proceeded to the Sacred Heart School for Boys along Mango Avenue in Cebu City where he spoke to the local clergy, nuns, religious and seminarians.

Afterwards the pope went to the Archbishop’s Residence where he prayed for sometime before he took lunch. He rested for a while and joined the parade along Jones Avenue, stopping near the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño where the centuries-old image of the Holy Child Jesus is housed. Dakay said the pope was supposed to listen to children who prepared a song for him. However, there were rumors that a “sharp shooter” was going after Pope John Paul II so the parade went on towards the “templete” or the old Lahug Airport.

At 5 p.m., Dakay said the pope led the Mass along with then Cebu Archbishop Julio Cardinal Rosales. The chair where the pope sat during the Eucharistic celebration can be found beside the chapel of St. Joseph at the Archbishop's Residence. Some of the vestments used by the Pope during the Mass is placed at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Museum.

The pope's homily centered on the sanctity of human life, Dakay said. After the Mass, Dakay said the pope went back to the Archbishop's Residence and addressed a huge number of young people. The pope slept in one of the rooms at the Archbishop's Residence before he left for Davao in the morning of Feb. 20, 1981.