I am now in Lopez, Quezon province after an easy 32 km leisurely walk mixed with some downhill running. I left Tabugon at 5 am and arrived here shortly before 2 pm. No fasting today, since it is Sunday, so I stopped for breakfast at a place before Calauag and for lunch near Lopez. No problem with my feet, I hope it stays that way the following days. Anyway, this will be an easy week - only 20 km tomorrow, 28 km after that and then back to the mid40-50km. I didnt plan any off day this week, only a series of easy days. The next off day will be when I arrive in Manila next week.
I was not really a total stranger on the road today. After leaving Tabugon, a man in his 30s suddenly approached me, took my hand and asked for my blessing while addressing me Father. Much later, a vehicle passed by and the inhabitants waved at me and addressed me as Father. When I entered a store and ordered an energy drink, the owner told me it was free. When I arrived in Lopez, a girl approached me took my hand and asked for my blessing and gave me a bottle of cold green tea. She told me that she saw me on TV while she was in Manila and was in Lopez for vacation.
As I walked and ran, my thoughts turned to the late Pope John Paul II who is being beatified in Rome today. I only met him once when I attended his early morning mass in Vatican and had a private audience with him. But his teaching and example has been a source of inspiration for me. In fact, the message of life and peace that I proclaim during this pilgrimage is based on his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life). According to John Paul II, there is a culture of death that reigns in the world. There are many manifestations of this culture of death - abortion, contraception, war, environmental destruction, poverty, capital punishment, etc. We therefore need to proclaim and promote the value and sanctity of life as we struggle against the culture of death. My stand in support of the peace process and against mining, extrajudicial killings and the RH bill is part of this broad pro-life agenda. To be pro-life it is not enough to be against the RH bill, we have to be against war and the destruction of the environment and to work for peace, justice and the integrity of creation. I hope that pro-life advocates should not only narrowly focus on the RH bill but should broadened their pro-life agenda. The late Cardinal Bernardin often talked about the consistent ethic of life which is similar to the position of John Paul II.
As I continue my journey for life and peace, I pray for the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
Got to go now, I will be concelebrating at the 6 pm mass. Thanks to the hospitality of Fr. Felix Zoleta - the parish priest.
p.s. Distance covered so far: 1207 km.
I am in an internet cafe and cant upload my pictures