ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 23 Dec) – Fr. Amado ‘Picx’ Picardal’s 1,800-kilometer 14-day journey on a bicycle from Baclaran to Mindanao ended here noon today after saying a short prayer for victims of Typhoon Sendong, right at the bridge that collapsed when thousands of logs rampaging from the mountains pounded its foundations.
“Let us not blame God for what man has done to the environment,” Picardal said, referring to the climate change that unleashed strong winds and rains that caused the flood, exacerbated by illegal logging in the mountains of Iligan that sent thousands of logs downstream through the Mandulog River, thereby destroying the bridge in Barangay Hinaplanon and submerging villages nearby, killing hundreds of people.
Picardal’s latest advocacy brought him to areas devastated by the strongest typhoons in the last few years – Samar and Leyte, which were severely damaged by Typhoon Yolanda in November last year; Compostela Valley, hit by Typhoon Pablo in December 2012; and Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, worst hit by Typhoon Sendong in December 2011.
Picardal left Cagayan de Oro early this morning for the 88-kilometer final ride to Iligan. He was met at the municipality of Initao in Misamis Oriental, midway between Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, by 50 bikers from the Naawan Bikers (NAB) and the Unified Cycling Clubs of Iligan (UCCI), who joined him all the way to the Redemptorist Church here.
The biking enthusiasts printed small placards that said “Save trees, save lives,” “Bike daily and save the planet” and “Climate Ride: More bike lanes, less superhighways,” which they taped to their bicycles.
The priest and his cycling buddies stopped at the Catholic church in Naawan, where he spoke to parishioners about his advocacy to reverse climate change and said a short prayer.
They lit candles and offered flowers for Sendong victims after the priest’s prayer at the Mandulog Bridge.
The 60-year-old priest, presently based in Manila and the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, began his Climate Ride on December 10.
He has done similar advocacies several times in the past, either on a bicycle, or on foot, even barefoot.
In 2000, Picardal did a “bike for peace” advocacy with a total distance of 2,080 kilometers from Davao to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, after deposed president Joseph Estrada waged all-out-war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In 2006, he did a bike around Mindanao for the Life and Peace campaign, covering a total distance of 2,100 kilometers, to protest extra-judicial killings, human right violations, mining and logging.
He endured a 5,160-kilometer bike tour in 2008 from Davao to Aparri in Cagayan Valley and back to Davao.
Picardal also hiked from Davao to Appari via the Cordilleras.
During the Holy Week in 2010, he ran and hiked 390 kilometers in nine days from Davao City to Iligan for peace and the environment.
Calling himself an ultra-marathoner, the priest said that in Spain, he ran 800 kilometers barefoot.
“In all of these, it’s not about bike and run per se, but once I’m in the church I always ask if I could preach on my advocacy,” he said.
Aside from the church, he said he shares his advocacy everywhere, on the road, in a store or in a waiting shed while taking rest.
Unlike other bikers or runners joining road races, Picardal does not have support vehicles in his journeys. He thus carries everything he needs for the entire duration of his trip on his back – including food, water and clothing. (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)