KEEP IT SIMPLE: No matter how austerely Pope Francis chooses to live, Josie Natori is trying to ensure he will feel right at home when he touches down in the Philippines in January. The Manila-born designer is helping her mother, Angelita Almeda, an unofficial liaison to the Vatican Embassy, to prepare for the pope’s three-day visit. The mother-daughter team is pitching in to spruce up his accommodations, though their plans are far from luxurious. Known for his austerity, Pope Francis passed up the chance to live in the apostolic palace in Vatican City, opting for a modest guesthouse.
Natori said she will return to her homeland from Jan. 15 to 19 for the papal visit, which is eagerly anticipated by the Filipinos — 86 percent of whom are said to be Catholic. The purpose of the pope’s trip is to comfort Filipinos devastated by the typhoon and the earthquake that hit the Visayan Islands this fall and bring “his message of mercy and compassion,” according to the official Web site for his trip.
Meanwhile, residents in the Philippines were dealing with this past weekend’s landfall of Super Typhoon Hagupit, which brought yet more destruction to the island.