I was expecting a short & easy 32-km day but once again the map/distance calculator was wrong. It turned out to be a hard 41 km trek.
I reached Bontoc at 10 am and stopped over at the cathedral rectory for almost 2 hours. Fr. John Habawel invited me for lunch which I could not refuse. He also contacted the new parish priest of Sadangan to inform him of my coming. Fr. Requino told him that he wouldn't be around but I was welcome to stay overnight in his parish.
I left Bontoc at noontime thinking I only had less than 14 km to go. The road after Bontoc was mostly narrow and rough, with some concrete sections. There were long stretches where I could not see houses or people. I was completely alone. I reached the junction after 19 km and had to make a 4-km steep ascent to the poblacion. I had to walk very slowly using my walking staff because of the slight pain in my knees. I reached Sadangan before six in the afternoon as heavy rain started to fall. Three seminarians were around to welcome me and brought me to the room they had prepared for me. After supper they brought me to the hot spring shed where I had a very relaxing bath.
During supper, I was once again asked the same questions that people have often asked: why are you doing this alone? Are you not afraid?
There are so many reasons why I am doing this alone. I can run/walk at my own pace. I want to spend more time in silence, prayer, contemplation and reflection - thus facilitating my inner, spiritual journey. It is cheaper and easier to get accomodation. It symbolizes my celibate life - I do not walk hand in hand with the woman I love and our children for the rest of my life. Along the way, I encounter people I like who become my friends and perhaps walk for a short while but we go our separate ways hoping we can meet again someday. I may experience community but move on. I become more aware of the invisible loving presence of the One to whom I have consecrated my life. And because of this I am not afraid.
Total distance from Davao: 1843 km