‘Biking priest’ arrives in Iligan after two-week journey from Baclaran

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 29 March) – Fr. Amado “Picx” Picardal, accompanied by veteran triathlete Franklin Penalosa, arrived at the Redemptorist Church here early afternoon today, Maundy Thursday, after more than two weeks of biking 1,500 kilometers since leaving his congregation’s church in Baclaran, Metro Manila.

Fr. Amado “Picx” Picardal (right) and veteran triathlete Franklin Penalosa at the Mandulog Bridge in Iligan City. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Picardal, who has done several long journeys on his bicycle or on foot all over the Philippines and abroad for his various advocacies, passed through Southern Luzon, Bicol, Samar, Leyte, then landed in Surigao and continued pedalling via Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and, finally, Iligan, his hometown.

He fasted during his riding hours in the day, taking only water, and ate only upon arriving at the destination at the end of the day. Picardal and his companions slept in convents along the route.

Picardal said he dedicated this latest ride, which he dubbed “Bike for Life and Peace,” in appealing for three things: to stop the extra judicial killings, resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front, and ending martial law in Mindanao.

The priest, who is turning 64 in October, 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 the stormy month of December 2014, went on a 1,800 kilometer 14-day “Climate Ride” from Manila to Iligan via Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Compostela Valley, Davao, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro, passing through areas devastated by typhoons “Sendong” and “Pablo,” the worst storms to hit Mindanao.

Fr. “Picx”and Penalosa arrive at the Redemptorist Church in Iligan City. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Picardal has climbed Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, seven times. He also twice hiked the 800-km Camino de Santiago (or The Way of Saint James), a popular pilgrimage route in Spain, either barefoot or on sandals.

Picardal left the Redemptorists’ National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on March 14 accompanied by triathlete Chito Generoso. The latter stayed with the priest until Calbayog City in Samar.

While in Naga, Camarines Sur, the duo met multi-awarded triathlete Penalosa, who was accompanying another priest on a 100-km ride to Legazpi City in Albay.

Generoso talked Penalosa into going with Picardal all the way to Iligan because he would bike only up to Calbayog. “Kawawa naman si Father at mag-isa na lang sya mula Calbayog hanggang Iligan,” he quoted Generoso as saying.

Penalosa ended up biking with Picardal for 10 days from Naga to Iligan.

Picardal recalled that in this ride, the first few days were the most difficult as his body was still adjusting to the effort. “I have this heart condition that forced me to slow down, while taking meds along the way,” he said.

In his previous long rides, he would go as far as 160 km a day. “For the first time, I’m going slow. Riding slower, and at an average of only 100 km per day. I’m availing of senior citizen’s discount now,” he joked.

They would usually start pedalling at 5:30 or 6 a.m., then endured the heat of the summer sun. “But there were continuous rains for maybe three days on our Samar-to-Leyte leg,” he said.

Late lunch at the Redemptorist Church convent in Iligan. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Picardal and Penalosa left Cagayan de Oro City early today for the last 88-km ride to Iligan on a hot morning, and arrived at the Redemptorist Church here at 1:37 p.m. and had fish for their late lunch.

Penalosa, who had many podium finishes in triathlons and long distance running races all over the country, will leave for home on Easter Sunday on his bike. The 40-year-old elite triathlete intends to reach Naga, 1,000 kms away, in six days, even though it took him and Picardal 10 days to cover the same distance. (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)