BIKING FOR LIFE AND PEACE: Days 7 to 9: Dumaguete to Iloilo

The first two hours to Bais City was easy – mostly on flat road. Then the calvary started when we ascended to Mabinay. It was so hot and the climbs were tough, sections of the road were being repaired so it was also dusty. We had to make a lot of stops for rest and water.

We reached the Kan-anan sa Bungtod (restaurant on the mountain) near Mabinay at past12 noon. Fr. Rolex Nueva – the social action director of Kabankalan – was waiting for us. After lunch, we parted company with the NOBA bikers who were returning to Dumaguete. In their place, 8 bikers from Mabinay (including a protestant minister and a 10 year old boy) took over to accompany us to Kabankalan. This time there were a lot of downhill riding. But it was still hot and dusty. When we reached the boundary, parish lay leaders and bikers from Kabankalan were waiting for us. There were also some kids on their BMX bikes. A large streamer welcoming us was hanging on the side of the road.

We proceeded to Kabankalan with motocycle cops with siren leading the way. We reached Kabankalan at 4 pm after biking for 130 km. I presided at the 6 pm mass with 5 priests concelebrating. The church was full. After the mass we had a sumptuous dinner prepared by the parish council.

We left Kabankalan at 7:o0 this morning accompanied by 15 Kabankanlan bikers and led by a police car. A biker from Bacolod named Carlo arrived on time to join us in this leg.

The Kabankalan bikers went as far as Hinigaran (35 km from Kabankalan) and then turned back together with the police car. There were three of us left as we biked towards Bacolod led by Fr. Rolex who was driving his car. When we reached the outskirs of Bacolod at noontime, 10 motorcycle riders were waiting for us and escorted us to the Redemptorist Church. The ABS-CBN TV camera crew was waiting for us as we reached the place. When I looked at my cycling computer I saw that I have already biked for 740 km since I started a week ago.

After lunch, I went to the Bike Tote's to have my bike fixed. Two broken spokes were replaced and the wheel aligned. The owner did not charge me anything.

Patrick and I went over to the Bishop's residence for a courtesy call with Bishop Vicente Navarra – one the prophetic bishops in Western Visayas. He is very supportive.

I celebrated the Mass for Life and Peace at 5:30 pm. A press conference followed.

Day 9, April 1: Ferry, Bacolod-Iloilo

At 5:15 this morning, Patrick and I biked from the Redemptorist monastery in Bacolod to the pier where we took the Ocean Jet fast craft that brought us to Iloilo. We reached Iloilo by 7:30. We were met by Fr. Patrick Sugrue (the parish priest of the Clement's parish), from Fr. Royo, the media liaison officer of the Archdiocese, and the Ilonggo Cycling priest – Fr. Abing. There were also 6 local bikers who joined us as we biked along the thoroughfares of the city led by two motorcycle cops. We reached the Redemptorist monastery where we had breakfast and this was followed by a press conference arranged by Fr. Royo. I was free the rest of the day until 5:30 pm when we had the mass for life and peace. There were four Redemptorists who concelebrated with me. There was a good turn out among the church-goers, considering that today is an ordinary working day. As usual, I preached on the Good News on life and peace and I also strongly appealed for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government and the National Democratic Front.