Biking priest is back in Mindanao, in Surigao City

“I am here in Surigao already. I was able to catch the 1 p.m. ferry yesterday. Rest and laundry today. Tomorrow, Butuan. Didn’t hear anything from (Zamboanga) Archbishop (Romulo) Valles and (Cotabato Auxiliary) Bishop Colin (Bagaforo),” he told MindaNews by celfone.

The two bishops had earlier signified to Picardal they would join him in the Surigao-Davao City stretch.

Picardal said he biked “3 hours and 30 minutes 81 kilometers from Hilongos to Liloan, accompanied by over 50 bikers.” The ferry ride from Liloan to Surigao City took three hours, he said.

Picardal has dubbed his 56-day, 5,000 kilometer bike journey as “Philippine Bike-Tour for Life and Peace: Preaching the Gospel of Life amidst the Culture of Death.”

The Redemptorist priest who also serves as Dean of Academics at the St. Alphonsus Theologate here, had biked “for peace” across the country for 18 days from Davao to the northernmost part of Luzon in 2000 and for 21 days around Mindanao in 2006 “for life and peace.”

Picardal will bike to Davao City starting May 13, but not all of it along the national highway.

He will bike from Surigao to Butuan on May 13, to San Francisco in Agusan del Sur on May 14, to Mangagoy, Surigao del Sur on May 15, to Cateel in Davao Oriental on May 16, Cateel to Compostela to Nabunturan in Compostela Valley on May 17 and from Nabunturan to Davao City on May 18.

Writing in his blog, http://amadopicardal.blogspot.com,  Picardal said he still has six more days to reach Davao.

“The next five days, I will probably be biking alone – going through some areas that have been devastated by logging and mining, and where the fighting between the NPA and the Government forces continue to rage. I have some apprehensions especially biking along Mangagoy, Cateel, Compostela Valley and Nabunturan roads. Aware of the risks, I continue my journey for life and peace. I am confident that I will reach my destination safe and sound.

Asked what he has accomplished, thus far, Picardal said, “This is the question that I know a lot of people are asking. There are some who probably think that I am just a modern-day Don Quixote riding a bicycle, charging against some windmills and dreaming the impossible dream. I am aware that this bike-tour will not accomplish much – it won't end abortion, the war, the extra-judicial killings, the destruction of the environment, corruption. I don't expect the letter for the president I delivered to Malacanang will make a big impact. All I can hope is that somehow, I have touched the hearts of some people and convinced them that there is something that we can do, no matter how small, to change our society.”

Picardal added that on a personal note, he has achieved what he thought was impossible at his age (he is turning 54 in October), “and with my heart condition (myocardial ischemia).”

“I will have established a Philippine record which will probably take a long time to break – biking over 5000 km alone from Davao to Aparri and back, going through the toughest roads in Cordilleras, Northern & Eastern Samar and passing by Malacanang without any back-up. This is route that have not been completed even by a motorized vehicle. And I have lost probably over 20 pounds,” Picardal wrote,.

“Of course, although this has been a journey that I did alone. I had the support of so many people: my fellow Redemptorists, friends, parish priests, bishops, biking clubs, individual cyclists, motorbike escorts, the media, etc. Above all, I have felt the presence of the One to whom I owe my existence and whose call I have answered. God has been good to me. During those moments when I felt alone, when I crashed in the Cordilleras, or when I was threatened by sickness, I was never alone for He was with me,” Picardal said. (MindaNews)

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