14 Filipino journalists to ride Papal plane

This handout picture by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis blowing the candles of a birthday cake to celebrate his 78th birthday during a general audience at the Vatican.

MANILA - For the first time in history, Filipino journalists will join the Pope on board the Papal plane when he flies from Rome to the Philippines next year.

Bishop Mylo Vergara, during a press conference on Monday, said 14 local journalists from Catholic, broadcast and print media will have the opportunity to join Pope Francis on the long-haul flight.

"The Holy See press office has managed to include, in the official list of the Vatican Accredited Media Personnel (VAMP), 14 Filipino journalists," Vergara said. "They are tasked to cover the papal visit starting from Rome, to Sri Lanka to the Philippines from January 12 to 19, 2015."

Pope Francis will visit the Philippines next month. He is set to arrive in Manila on January 15 and will later head to Leyte to meet with survivors of super typhoon "Yolanda."

Among the names mentioned were Lito Zulueta from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Lynda Jumilla-Abalos from ABS-CBN, Kara David from GMA 7, and Pia Hontiveros from 9TV.

Other media networks with representatives are TV5 Network Inc., CBCP News, Radyo Veritas and Union of Catholic Asia News (UCAN).

"One significant event that I'm sure those included in the Papal flight may experience is the press conference, which Pope Francis does during the Papal flight," Vergara explained.

The bishop called the opportunity "one of the great Christmas gifts" to Filipinos this year.