FROM BACLARAN TO ILIGAN: Biking priest takes break in Tacloban Monday; moves to Mindanao by Tuesday

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 Dec) – Biking priest Amado “Picx” Picardal arrived in Tacloban late Sunday afternoon, December 14 and will take a day’s rest Monday before moving to the Mindanao leg of his 14-day “Climate Ride” from Baclaran in Metro Manila to Iligan in Lanao del Norte.

A Redemptorist priest who hails from Iligan City but presently based in Manila as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – Basic Ecclesial Communities, Picardal began his 1,800 kilometer ride from Baclaran to Iligan on Wednesday, December 10 and is expected to arrive in Iligan City by December 23.

Picardal in a text message to MindaNews said he reached Tacloban at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Fr. Amado Picardal at the checkpoint at the San Juanico bridge that links Sta. Rita in Samar to Tacloban in Leyte. Photo courtesy of Fr. Picardal's FB postings. Permission to use publish photo
Fr. Amado Picardal at the checkpoint at the San Juanico bridge that links Sta. Rita in Samar to Tacloban in Leyte. Photo from  Fr. Picardal’s FB postings, with permission to use.

Picardal biked “for peace” across the country for 18 days in 2000, meeting truckloads of soldiers on their way to the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” in Mindanao; “for life and peace” around Mindanao for 21 days in 2006; “for life and peace” from Davao to Aparri and back or 5,000 kilometers for 56 days in 2008; walked “for life and peace” from Davao to Aparri in the summer of 2011 and in this stormy month of December, the 14-day “Climate Ride” from Manila to Bicol, Samar, Leyte.

What has happened since hel left Baclaran early morning of December 10?

Here are updates from Fr. Picardal, from the journal he shared with MindaNews and posted on his Facebook wall.

Day 1. December 10, 2014. Baclaran to Atimonan (173 km)

At 5:30 am after the send-off prayer and blessing at the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, I set off alone on my Climate Ride.

I wasn’t feeling well because I wasn’t able to sleep the night before. Too much excitement? Or the increased dosage of my a pills. I was very thirsty even at the start. Possibly the effect of dehydration since I was always peeing that night.

At km 47, as I started my ascent from Calamba to Sto Tomas I felt the cramps in both my thighs and the forefeet. I had to slow down and take a lot of breaks. I was behind schedule. I was met by my friend Nova who biked with me for several kilometers.

When I reached Lucena, two bikers without their bikes met me – they told me they left their bikes for a while to meet and greet me and accompany me on their vehicle. They also gave me food and refreshment.

It was already dark as I took the diversion road to Atimonan instead of the Zigzag. The muscle cramp was gone thanks to the banajas. It was 7:45 pm when I arrived in Atimonan. I decided not to proceed to Gumaca where I am expected at the Cathedral rectory. I am staying in a cheap hotel. I am exhausted. I hope to recover tomorrow.

Day 2: December 11, 2014: Atimonan-Sipocot (170 k).

Left 4:30 am. Crashed at 5:00 a.m. minor bruises no broken bones. A very exhausting ride along Quirino highway. Lots of climbs and a flat tire. Arrived Sipocot 7 p.m. and slept overnight at St. Therese parish.

Day 3: Dec 12, 2014. Sipocot-Sorsogon City (190 km

Woke up at 3 a.m. fully recovered after a goodnight’s sleep. Started biking at 4:30 a.m. and reached the Archbishop’s residence at 7:15 where I had coffee. Archbishop Rolly Tirona was away and he just talked to me over the phone to welcome. I had conversation with the resident priests priests and Dr. Quimlat. resumed my journey at 8 am guided by Clarence Razo Llorin out of the city. The ride from Naga to Daraga was fast and easy on mostly flat highway except for some easy hill climbs to Guinobatan. There I was met by Cesar Banares and his friend who accompanied me for over 15 km. The ride from Daraga to Sorsogon was a bit tough but it was easier than Qurino highway. I reached Sorsogon at 6:15 p.m. without feeling exhausted. I proceeded to the cathedral rectory where I was given accommodation by Mgr Del.

Day 4: Dec 13, 2014. Sorsogon-Calbayog (140 km)

Continued my journey at 4:30 a.m. The first to accompany me was the municipal engineer of Juvan. Then 10 cyclists of Irosin joined. Among them was a kagawad of Irosin, a principal of a school, a lady teacher, a female nurse. Three Matnog cyclists. They accompanied me to Matnog port where I was able to board the 9 a.m. ferry. I was so glad it was raining when we docked in Allen. The rain kept me cool as I biked to Calbayog. It was tough ride up down 14 hills. I was met in San Joaquin by three cyclists from Calbayog. We finally reached the rectory of the cathedral at 5 pm. Had supper with the resident priests.

Day 5. December 14, 2014. Calbayog-Tacloban (175 km)

It was raining at 4:45 a.m. as I left Calbayog. It continued to rain intermittently four more times and I was happy as a frog inspite of the many hill climbs. I just love the wind and rain caressing my face and keeping me cool. I didn’t feel any exhaustion even without breakfast and lunch (as usual). Eight Calbayog cyclists met and accompanied me for a couple of hours. Along the way I saw some of the effects of Supertyphoon Ruby.

I finally reached San Juanico Bridge at 5 p.m. I reached the Redemptorist parish around 6 p.m. This is where the victims of Yolanda evacuated last year (they also came back last week to take shelter from Ruby).

I was welcomed by my Redemptorist confreres.

Picardal will proceed to Liloan, Leyte on Tuesday to take the ferry to Surigao. By Wednesday, December 17, Picardal will be moving from Surigao to Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur; on Thursday from Prosperidad to New Bataan in Compostela Valley, the town with the highest death toll during super typhoon Pablo in 2012 due to debris flow.

He will arrive in Davao City on Thursday, December 19 and from here move to Maramag in Bukidnon (December 20), Maramag to Malaybalay on Dec. 21; Malaybalay to Cagayan de Oro by December 22 and Cagayan de Oro to Iligan by December 23. (MindaNews)