Giovanna Fontanilla (2nd left), director of the University of Santo Tomas Community Development Office, announces Pope Francis' activities when he visits the pontifical university during his trip to the Philippines in January. The Pope will meet with leaders of various religions and youth representatives. (MNS photo)

Giovanna Fontanilla (2nd left), director of the University of Santo Tomas Community Development Office, announces Pope Francis’ activities when he visits the pontifical university during his trip to the Philippines in January. The Pope will meet with leaders of various religions and youth representatives. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Pope Francis has been honing his English speaking skills for his upcoming visit to the Philippines on January 15 to 19, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Translating Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi’s speech at a press conference on Wednesday, Pontificio Collegio Filippino rector Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston in an interview on state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), said the Italian and Spanish-speaking Pope will deliver all his speeches and homilies in English.

Pinaghahandaan niya talaga… Hindi lang inihahanda ang texts na gagamitin, kung hindi, pina-practice kung paano ito sasabihin, ang mga text na ito,” Gaston said.

He added that should the Argentine Pope encounter any difficulties with the language, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will translate for him.

Gaston also pointed out that since some Filipinos know how to speak in Spanish, the Pope may use that to communicate.

Marami rin marunong mag-Spanish sa Philippines, so baka mag-konting Espanyol siya,” he noted.

He also said the Pope is now more confident with his English-speaking skills after he successfully spoke the language in some of his speeches during his visit to South Korea last year.

Pope Francis will also be speaking English during his trip to Sri Lanka, where he will spend two full days before arriving in Manila on January 15.

The Pope will be welcomed by President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang, and will visit Leyte, University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City and Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park. (MNS)