Manila (AFP) - 10:44 GMT - WE ARE CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT on Pope Francis's mass in the Philippines, the final event in his five-day visit to the Catholic Church's passionate and chaotic Asian heartland.
A record-breaking crowd of six million people braved grim weather to see the pontiff, who heralded the island nation as "the foremost Catholic country in Asia" and "a special gift of God, a blessing" in a homily that wrung tears from many ecstatic believers.
The mass was the highlight of the pope's two-nation tour, which also included Sri Lanka, aimed at building momentum for the Church's expansion in Asia, with its support in the Philippines the benchmark for the rest of the region.
10:28 GMT - Six million faithful - Six million people turned out to see Pope Francis celebrate mass in the Philippine capital Sunday, the head of Manila's planning agency tells AFP, making it a world record crowd for a papal gathering.
"We have it at six million," according to Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, when asked for the crowd size.
10:25 GMT - RECORD CROWD - PAPAL CROWD IN PHILIPPINES A RECORD AT SIX MILLION: CITY OFFICIAL
10:07 GMT - #WeLovePopeFrancis - As the Philippines bathes in the afterglow of the papal visit, now drawing to its close, social media users started using the #WeLovePopeFrancis to share their excitement.
@MisterBanatero pointed out how even the wet weather was not enough to dampen spirits, tweeting "the Filippino faith is waterproof," while @DYOWKS posted that the country's love for the pontiff was "stronger than any rain or storm at Quirino Grandstand," where the ceremony was held.
09:28 GMT - Rockstar exit - Pope Francis is now making a rockstar exit through the streets of Manila, where huge crowds of screaming faithful are straining against barriers or even climbing onto footbridges to catch a glimpse of him.
09:15 GMT - Brand pope - Pope Francis may be known as the "pope of the poor" by many, but that hasn't stopped big business in the Philippines from trying to cash in on his trip.
Smiling images of the 78-year-old pontiff are splashed across towering billboards and full-page newspaper advertisements, stamped with logos of McDonald's, Pepsi, Hyundai and myriad local companies.
Gerald Bautista, who runs his own consulting firm in Manila, puts the pope's magnetic marketing pull down to his "100 percent benefits in terms of credibility and integrity".
09:12 GMT - Yellow poncho - The pope dons his now famous yellow poncho as he leaves the mass and climbs into his jeepney "popemobile" to chants of "We love you Papa Francisco".
AFP Manila bureau chief Karl Malakunas says his choice of the cheap apparel is "being widely welcomed here as a symbol of him being a genuine man-of-the people. He's happy to get wet with everyone else, and wants to wear the same cheap rain coats as everyone else."
09:08 GMT - #BFF2015 - While authorities were preparing for a record-breaking crowd of up to six million, most of the Philippine's 80 million Catholics will not be able to make it.
To help those who won't be able to see Pope Francis in person, one group of college students called #BFF2015 or Best Friends for Francis, set up selfie booths in Manila schools as part of their marketing course project to promote the papal visit.
09:24 GMT - Follow AFP - Social media users can stay up to date on all of AFP's coverage of the pope's trip to the Philippines by following @karlmalakunas and @AFPManila on Twitter.
There you can find links stories including on how prostitutes, priests and rich Filipinos are mixing in the nation's malls, why big business has hijacked 'brand pope' to cash in on his popularity and Filipinos trying to find God via the Internet.
09:04 GMT - Final chords - The ecstatic crowd waves flags, t-shirts -- anything they can get their hands on -- as the choir sings the triumphant final chords of the mass, then breaks into chanting "Papa Francisco," meaning Pope Francis.
08:57 GMT - 'Missionaries of light' - Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines asks Pope Francis to "send us as your missionaries of light... to spread the light of Jesus," to rapturous applause from the crowd.
Born to a working-class couple in a then-rural town two hours' drive south of the Philippine capital, Tagle is a young, electric orator who has been tipped as Asia's best hope for the papacy
Since being named the spiritual leader of the Philippine's more than 80 million Catholics in 2012, he has been outspoken about the need for Catholic Church leaders to be more open and humble.
08:39 GMT - 'Typhoon-proof' love - Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, tells the pope that his love is "typhoon-proof".
"We are not feeling the rain" with you here, he told a smiling Francis. "Holy father you are our sunshine... You have brought us enough sunshine to last us many lifetimes."
08:33 GMT - Logistical difficulties - Holding a mass for millions of people raises some difficult logistical questions, particularly when it comes to celebrating communion.
Luckily, devotees in Manila seem to have taken Pope's Francis's call to share in God's love quite literally, and are passing the wafers from hand to hand through the crowd.
The visibly moved pontiff hugged her for a few seconds and later discarded most of his prepared speech in English, reverting to his native Spanish to deliver an impromptu and heartfelt response.
"She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn't even able to express it in words but in tears," he said. "The nucleus of your question... almost doesn't have a reply."
08:10 GMT - Pope of the poor - One theme of the pope's homily was protection, with him reminding Catholics of "the importance of protecting our families and those larger families, which are the Church, God's family and the world, our human family".
Often called the "pope of the poor," Francis's care for the needy and disadvantaged has resonated deeply in the Philippines as it continues to struggles to rebuild after Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Church officials say the pontiff vowed to make a "mercy and compassion" trip when he saw the devastation wrought by the storm, which left 7,350 people dead or missing.
08:04 GMT - 'Flowers in a desert' - AFP journalist Cecil Morella, at the scene, poetically describes the sea of faithful in their rainbow of different coloured raincoats as "like flowers abloom in a desert".
"Most remarkable for me are... the sudden bursts of colour from the cheap disposable (75 pesos) ponchos amidst the sombre backdrop of dark rain clouds."
08:15 GMT - Tough questions - The pope has faced some tough questions during his visit to the abjectly poor Philippines, not least from Glyzelle Palomar, a one-time homeless child taken in by a church charity, when she asked him about child prostitution.
"Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything," the 12-year-old asked the pontiff when he visited a Catholic university in Manila ealier in the day.
08:01 GMT - Controversy - Still, while the pope's trip has delighted the Philippines' millions of Catholics, it has not been without controversy.
Francis sent social media networks into a frenzy when he told reporters there should be "limits" to what can be said about religion in the wake of a spate of deadly Islamist attacks in Paris, including on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Militant atheist Richard Dawkins said the pontiff had "shed his sheep's clothing," while the Guardian's Poly Toynbee said he was "using the wife-beater's defence" for the attacks.
07:54 GMT - Social media frenzy - There's not a dry eye in the Filippino Twittosphere after the pope's speech, it seems. @trinaborbyy says "my tears are falling every time I see the pope", while @desh0208 saying the homily gave her "goosebumps and tears".
07:47 GMT - Prayers of the faithful - The crowd stands as the prayers of the faithful are read out in several of the Philippine's different dialects -- Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Ilokano, Cebuano, Waray and Bikolano.
07:46 GMT - Silence - You can hear a pin drop as the crowd of six million observe a minute of silence after Pope Francis's speech.
07:34 GMT - Stuck in the mud - AFP and other international media's best laid plans for covering the pope's visit took a hit this morning when their teams who had followed the pope to typhoon-hit Tacloban could not fly back to Manila because of a crashed plane.
The aircraft overshot the runway at the island's airport yesterday, buffeted by strong winds from Tropical Storm Mekkhala, just 30 minutes after the pope took off from the same tarmac. The plane's nose was still buried in mud this morning, and all traffic at the airport was suspended.
07:42 GMT - Security concerns - Security has been a major issue during Pope Francis's five-day trip after two previous attempts to kill visiting pontiffs, with some 40,000 soldiers and police out on the streets.
Earlier, @PhilCoastGuard1 tweeted: "Two hours before the #PopeFrancis Mass in Quirino, PCG personnel intensified the maritime security patrol operations. "
07:38 GMT - Asia's Catholic hub - Pope Francis in his speech describes the Philippines as "the foremost Catholic country in Asia" which is "a special gift of God, a blessing".
Eighty percent of the former Spanish colony's 100 million people follow a famously fervent brand of Catholicism, and the pope has enjoyed thunderously enthusiastic crowds throughout his stay.
Francis says his two-nation tour aimed to build momentum for the already impressive growth for the Church in Asia, with its support in the Philippines the benchmark for the rest of the region.
07:27 GMT - Pope addresses Philippines - "It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Nino Sunday with you," the pope tells the rapt crowds.
People are advised to "be calm, don't push, don't run," to "avoid... forcing your way through the sea of people" and "if you fall and can't get up keep crawling in the direction of the crowd".
According to the video, which can be viewed here , a key sign of danger is "the sensation of being touched on all four sides".
07:17 GMT - - Stormy weather - - A sea of people wearing multicoloured ponchos against the rain listen rapt as a blind girl speaks, opening the huge mass in the bayside park.
Stormy weather has already hampered Pope Francis's trip, with a tropical storm on Saturday killing one papal volunteer and forcing him to short a mass to some 200,000 worshippers on the island of Tacloban.
The Philippines is still struggling to rebuild after Super Typhoon Haiyan -- the strongest storm ever recorded on land -- hit in November 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing and wiping out entire communities.
07:14 GMT - - Kings of the road - - Pope Francis arrives to a rapturous welcome from the crowds in a specially made "popemobile" for his Philippines trip.
The "jeepney" -- a type of vehicle originally made from converted US military jeeps left behind after World War II -- is known as the "king of the road" in the island nation, where they are used to transport anything from people to farm animals and produce.
While jeepneys are often painted with colourful religious scenes, the pontiff's vehicle is white and has an elevated rear deck and seats.
07:09 GMT - - Pope arrives - - Pope Francis is welcomed by millions of cheering, singing Catholics as he arrives to celebrate mass in the Philippine capital in one of the world's biggest outpourings of papal devotion.
06:47 GMT - - Santo Nino - - Hundreds of Filipinos are clutching statues of the infant Jesus as Sunday's mass falls on the feast of Santo Nino -- or Holy Child -- one of the oldest and most popular Catholic traditions in the Philippines.
Before the service starts, devotees from the Archdiocese of Cebu will lead worshippers in the Sinulog dance to venerate the holy infant, a traditional street dance where the faithful wave their icons overhead.
The image of the infant Jesus is venerated in the largely-Roman Catholic nation and it is widely displayed in homes and businesses. Organisers of the mass say that for Filipino Catholics, it "represents a God who is accessible to all and can be approached without fear".
06:35 GMT - - Considerate chaos - - AFP video journalist Eliezer Matienzo says there is an atmosphere of considerate chaos at Manila's Rizal Park as millions of faithful arrive ahead of the papal mass.
"I've never seen crowds as big as this," he says from the scene. "People were jostling, bumping me as I was trying to film.
"But at the same time, everyone is trying to help each other. Everyone's very conscious of safety. When there's a little child, everyone says look out for them. There was a speed hump, and everyone was pointing it out to each other so they wouldn't trip over."
06:30 GMT - WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT - WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on Pope Francis's mass in the Philippines, the highlight of his five-day visit to the Catholic Church's passionate and chaotic Asian heartland where he is expected to address a world-record papal crowd.
Huge crowds of the faithful are pouring into Rizal Park in Manila for the open-air service, which organisers expect will attract up to six million people despite rain and concerns about security.