Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Days 51 & 52: Surigao City-Butuan-San Francisco, Agusan Sur
It was raining when I left Surigao City at 5:30 yesterday morning. I decided to put on my Northface Jacket to keep myself dry. I didn't want to catch cold again. I maintained a fast pace as the rain and wind caressed my face. What a pleasant sensation. I only slowed down as I began my ascent along the mountain overlooking Lake Mainit. The rain stopped by 9 am after ascending the mountain. With only 60 km to go, I increased my pace to 25-30 km per hour. As I reached the bridge before Butuan City, the ABS-CBN TV camera crew aboard their pick-up was waiting for me and took some footages. When I reached the Cathedral rectory at noon time after biking for 121 km in 6 hours, the ABS-CBN newscaster interviewed me. I was welcomed by Fr. Nene Caldoza, the rector of the cathedral and immediately had lunch with some of the priests.
I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and preached at the 5:30 pm mass.
After morning prayer, I left Butuan at 6 am and biked at a leisurely pace across the mountains of Agusan del Sur. San Francisco was only 84 kilometers away so there was no need to ride faster. The weather was perfect for biking - cloudy and cool. There were a lot of climbing but also some descents. Along the way I saw this sign which I found very meaningful: "We are judged by what we finish, not what we start." As I reach the end of my journey, I can only agree.
I reached San Francisco at noontime and was welcomed by Fr. Allen, the Carmelite who is the new parish priest. After lunch with the members of the Carmelite community I spent the afternoon washing my clothes and then resting. I am scheduled to preach at the 5:30 pm mass.
So far, I have already biked for more than 4,800 km.
Some people have been asking me if the president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has read my letter. Now I can answer that she has and is taking the letter seriously. The other night, I received a call from an Australian Redemptorist priest based in Baclaran and he told me that an old friend who happens to be a member of the president's cabinet has contacted him and wants to set a meeting with me to discuss the letter. I agreed to meet the guy next week in Baclaran, the night before I depart for Bangkok. So I'll write about it after the meeting takes place. Well, it seems that delivering the letter to Malacanang was not in vain. Of course, I can thanks the media for covering the event and disclosing the content of the letter to the public.
Another day of solo biking tomorrow. I am once again a hermit on a bicycle, meditating and praying as I pedal. Yesterday and today, I prayed in a special way for a biker - Eric Reyes - who is dying of cancer. He texted me yesterday before he was put on a medically induced coma. His friends thought he was lying when he claimed he had cancer.