Yesterday, I concelebrated and preached at the 5:30 mass this morning at the Hilongos parish church. Being Pentecost Sunday, I emphasized on the role of the Holy Spirit as the source of empowerment, courage and wisdom as we carry out the mission of proclaiming the Gospel of the risen Lord. I have experienced this throughout my bicycle journey around the country as I preached the Gospel of Life and Peace amidst the culture of death and violence.
After the mass I changed into my cycling outfit and then continued my journey accompanied by over 40 bikers from Hilongos belong to the various cycling clubs: Hilongos Cycling One led by Mr. Ceniza, Team Pedal Trekkers led by Jun Lavides, Hilongos Unified Bikers and Team Boysua. When were reached Sogon, we were joined by over 10 bikers belonging to the Sogod Bay Biking Club. Knowing that the ferry boat was leaving Liloan at 11 am, we biked at a very fast pace - averaging 25-30 km/hr. I was flanked and helped by two very fast bikers whenever we climbed the hills. We reached the Liloan pier at 10:30 after biking 81 km in 3 hrs and 30 min. I got on the ferry boat while the bikers went back to Sogod and Hilongos. The boat left at 1 pm and reached Lipata pier in Surigao after 4 pm. As I biked towards the city I felt the exhaustion and hunger setting in. I stopped by a store for refreshments. I arrived at the cathedral rectory after 5 pm. Good thing I called the day before since they weren't expecting me. The priest I wrote to had been assigned to another place and he didn't inform the new parish priest about my coming.
So today being my rest day, I woke up later than usual - at 6 am. After morning prayer I had my breakfast and then did my laundry. The rest of the day I just relaxed.
This is the 50th day of my bike-tour and so far I have already biked 4614 km. I am back in Mindanao. I still have six more days of biking before I reach Davao. The next five days, I will probably be biking alone - going through some areas that have been devastated by logging and mining, and where the fighting between the NPA and the Government forces continue to rage. I have some apprehensions especially biking along Mangagoy, Cateel, Compostela Valley and Nabunturan roads. Aware of the risks, I continue my journey for life and peace. I am confident that I will reach my destination safe and sound.
What have you accomplished so far? This is the question that I know a lot of people are asking. There are some who probably think that I am just a modern-day Don Quixote riding a bicycle, charging against some windmills and dreaming the impossible dream. I am aware that this bike-tour will not accomplish much - it won't end abortion, the war, the extra-judicial killings, the destruction of the environment, corruption. I don't expect the letter for the president I delivered to Malacanang will make a big impact. All I can hope is that somehow, I have touched the hearts of some people and convinced them that there is something that we can do, no matter how small, to change our society.
On a personal note I have achieved what I thought was impossible at my age and with my heart condition (myocardial ischemia). I will have established a Philippine record which will probably take a long time to break - biking over 5000 km alone from Davao to Aparri and back, going through the toughest roads in Cordilleras, Northern & Eastern Samar and passing by Malacanang without any back-up. This is route that have not been completed even by a motorized vehicle. And I have lost probably over 20 pounds.
Of course, although this has been a journey that I did alone. I had the support of so many people: my fellow Redemptorists, friends, parish priests, bishops, biking clubs, individual cyclists, motorbike escorts, the media, etc. Above all, I have felt the presence of the One to whom I owe my existence and whose call I have answered. God has been good to me. During those moments when I felt alone, when I crashed in the Cordilleras, or when I was threatened by sickness, I was never alone for He was with me.