As usual I was up by 3:30 am feeling refreshed. I was on the road by 4:45 am. After an hour, I was overtaken by a chubby young man who was running fast. He turned to me and said: "Good luck, Lolo." I was taken aback to hear me being addressed as Lolo (grandpa). Either I look too old, or I run/walk like an old man. And to think that I am not yet a senior citizen. Anyway, I consoled my self by the awareness that although many can run faster than me, they cannot run/walk as far as I can (over 2000+), solo, unsupported, carrying an 8 kilo backpack. There was a time when my average training pace was 5 km/hour which I can do for 30-40 km without taking a walking break. But that was 30 years ago. But I don't think that at that age, I can do what I am doing now. Because I am now slower, I take frequent breaks, I have a lot of patience and endurance, I can go on a long, long journey by foot across this country.
At 8 am, while passing Prosperidad, I drop by a roadside restaurant for coffee. I had a chat with Rosalina, the owner. When it was time to pay for the coffee, she told me that it was free. A few hours later, a van stopped and the owner came out and shook my hand. He introduced himself (Mr. Pajelo) his wife, daughter and son and had picture taken. He then gave me a thousand pesos for my expenses and then drove away. At one in the afternoon, an SUV stopped and a couple came out and introduced themselves (Henry & Cora) and they gave me empanada, siopao and mineral water. I have once gain experienced the kindness and generosity of people I met on the way and this started since day one. Most of them told me that they saw me on TV. They probably wanted to show their support.
I feel ambivalent about the media coverage which started a week before I even began my journey and which is continuing. I wanted to make this low-key and very private and yet because this is a run/walk for a cause, I have to accept it since this is the only way my message can reach a wide audience. I am just a small voice which the media can multiply a thousand times.
I've been having problem with the soles of my feet which become sore and painful after six hours on the road. I have made it a point to rest every hour - for 5-10 minutes to give my aching foot a break and to cool off. But this afternoon, it has becomes more agonizing. The continuous slow running provides relief, but I am also careful that I don't get a repititive stress injury that can result in shin splint or stress fracture.
I finally reached Bayugan City at 4 pm after covering 40 km. I was welcomed by Fr. Guy - the parish priest, and Fr. Danny - his assistant. I concelebrated at the 5:30 pm mass and talked for 12 minutes about my advocacy and the message of life and peace. As usual, I ate over-ate during dinner. This is my only meal of the day which should be enough to sustain my fast while I run/walk during the day.
So after six days, I have covered 252 km. That's an average of 42 km per day (a marathon for six successive days).