When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator

Mahatma Gandhi

I came prepared for what I presumed as a 5 hour walk from our house to Antipolo Cathedral – or so I thought. It was a breeze walking for 30 minutes but after which the intense afternoon (2 pm) heat started to creep in. I walked alone as I undauntedly savored each painful sting of the sun. I traversed in a non-ordinary setting in C. Raymundo Pasig as Maundy Thursday was now in full effect. There were less vehicles on the road. Less people. Less garbage. Everything was peaceful except for my own mind.

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I started feeling nauseous in C. Raymundo due to the heat. I bought Gatorade and I kept the bottle and refilled it with water from time to time.

Before I ventured out, I checked how far Antipolo Cathedral is from our house and it turned out, surprisingly, that it was only 12 kilometers. I somehow underestimated this distance and just 2 kilometers from our home I started to feel exhausted. I started to lose focus and my intention of walking meditatively became more of walk of punishment.  I hurriedly walked. I was straining myself getting away from the light of the sun. I tried pulling myself back together but it was not until the staff from a gas station called my attention to have free water and free use of the comfort room that I regained my composure back. It was such a sweet gesture to which I replied in a sweet smile.

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I reached Ortigas Extension at 3:15 pm there was no pilgrims at that time yet. Sino ba naman ang baliw na gaya ko ang maglalakad sa init ng araw.

Along Ortigas Extension I bumped into pilgrims who also started early. At this point my thirst was insatiable and my feet were starting to numb. But these feelings were overshadowed when I started noticing people setting up booths on the side. I termed it the “booths of duality”. People knew that this event could make a little business. Some are for profit making, some are for volunteering and some have hidden agendas. I began pitying the situation of the Filipino people. Sabi ko: Pati ba naman pagdarasal ay hahaluan ng komersyalismo” (I said: How can commercialism invade prayer time?) Big companies had booths saying ” ________ is in support of Alay Lakad 2017″. And so I thought, how are they supporting exactly? By self-promoting your brand and for people to see? Are these companies even there to experience the whole thing for them to say they are in support? Regardless of all the meanings that could be drawn, one thing stuck in my mind – God sells and the elite controls him.

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The fabled Jenny’s. I almost lost my cap here because of the strong winds.

As my mind lingers in sullen speculations, I was taken aback by the unbearable exhaustion my body was undertaking. I suddenly became drawn to the idea that people needed God. People are helpless without God. I am helpless without God. No matter how many distractions there may be, it all boils down to Him.

As I focused more on God I suddenly felt emotional. I imagined myself crying once I’ve reached the Cathedral as my prayers went: Father give me strength to go on. My prayers were answered but it literally felt like Exodus. My walk seemed unending. But as I pressed on the sun became more friendly and there were more shades for cover. Pilgrims started to pile up from Tikling and by this time my heart was already filled with hope. The steep roadways were killing my legs but I had to push on through. And When finally I reached Antipolo City Hall I knew I was just meters away from my destination. But the more I became closer and closer to my goal the more my legs were starting to give up on me.

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I reached Antipolo Arc by 5: 45 pm. There were a couple of pilgrims starting to converge at this location.

I reached Antipolo Cathedral and headed straight inside to offer my prayers. Though it wasn’t that intimate as I have initially planned, instead, I felt so relieved that my strength came back from 15% to about 30%.

Recalling my experience doing Alay Lakad reinforced my belief that it takes great effort and patience to be able to discover God. I became aware that the only thing that hinders me from knowing Him is me. Every step and every effort that I make must be in the light of learning His secrets and ways. In the hopes of hastening the unfathomable sands of time that someday I would become one.

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Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

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