What a journey it had been --- a walk of over 20 kilometers, spanning 8 hours, from SLRP Parish in Quezon City to Antipolo Cathedral in Antipolo City!
Last May 21, 2010, fifty one SLRP Parishioners, a mix of young, teenagers, and adults alike, joined the annual pilgrimage to our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo. It was an exciting moment for the participants as we gathered in prayer at around 9:00 in the evening, to pay tribute to the Lady of Antipolo. To the participants, it meant a test of one’s physical and spiritual attributes – that of being able to complete the walk and be able to offer a sacrifice through walking for the many favors we have received. For those in their 40s and up, myself included, it was an added test of stamina to withstand a rigorous hike, particularly on the last uphill climb to the cathedral!
We stopped in gas stations along the way and prayed the rosary. Specifically, we asked for protection from our Lady of Antipolo to keep us away from harm as we continued our journey to Antipolo in the wee hours of the morning. While walking, some silently prayed and asked favors to the miraculous Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Personally, I asked for the safe travel of my family.
The walk revealed some innate traits of our parishioners. The spirit of “damayan” was evident from the participants who willingly shared their snacks and drinks to others who forgot to bring some food provisions with them. Likewise, there were those who accompanied and stood close to those participants who were tired and on the verge of quitting, and gave them encouragement to continue walking! In our own life, we have likely traversed smooth and bumpy paths. But during those times when life seemed to be difficult, we were encouraged to go on through the prodding of our friends, relatives and our co-parishioners. We find strength from these people around us who are more than willing to extend a helping hand in our times of need.
To those who have prepared, the journey was almost like a leisurely walk; to others, it was a struggle. For instance, Fr. Luke, a fitness buff, kept a fast and pace all throughout the walk. Most of us could not cope up with him. This brings to mind the truism that the ease or difficulty of a task depends on the preparation we exert prior to the activity. Some primed themselves with a regular jog prior to the walk to Antipolo and they walked with ease despite the upward climb. Others prepared by wearing the appropriate walking shoes, and so they avoided blisters on their feet. Indeed we can avoid some difficulties and inconveniences in life if we ourselves make an extra effort to prepare.
The walk was capped with the celebration of the mass by Fr. Luke at 6:00 am the following day, May 22. Several SLRP parishioners served and attended the mass which was followed by a simple salo-salo. Everyone went home happy and fulfilled having offered a sacrifice to the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Hopefully other parishioners will join the walk next year and feel a different bonding experience with SLRP parishioners. For those who have already joined, let’s continue to pay our devotion to our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage as we constantly ask for her intercession for inner peace in ourselves, our family, our community and our country -– that much-needed peace as we continue our journey through the different highways of our lives!