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Cross-country walking priest wins fans

How many roads must a man walk down to make his point?

Cross-country walking priest wins fans
Father Amado Picardal on the run
Abe Cerojano, Manila

April 20, 2011

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Father Amado Picardal has so far walked more than 690 kilometers of his 2,000km journey for “Life and Peace.”

The priest’s ordeal kicked off April 1 in the southern Philippine city of Davao and scheduled to end in Aparri town in the northern province of Cagayan on May 28.

The epic solo long distance walk of the Redemptorist missionary priest will enter its third week on Good Friday.

For 19 days, Father Picardal trudged under the unforgiving rain and blistering sun, yet he found comfort meeting people along the way.

The priest has been walking to publicise his causes that range from scrapping the reproductive health bill to drumming up support for the peace process.

“I reached San Jorge (in Samar) at 1 p.m. and stopped for an hour in a convenience store owned by Mana Aurora. I ordered a soft drink and biscuits… I talked to her about my peace advocacy and she told me that's what we need,” Father Picardal said in his blog, which chronicles his daily progress.

He also enjoys the rich experience of savoring life in the countryside by walking alone.

“One of the advantages of walking-running is that I get to meet a lot of people and see more of the places - which I can't do when I ride my bike or a car,” he said.

“This is also part of my penitential practice, especially during Lent and Holy Week,” he said. “But besides all these, I am also doing this because it is fun - it is an adventure.”

He said he didn't really feel alone because he was “aware of the presence of Someone” he cannot see but who accompanies and guides him in his journey.

Besides the providential guidance, he said: “I am aware of the support and concern of others who constantly call me or send text messages.

One of Father Picardal’s favorite activities during his journey is taking photos of police and soldiers manning checkpoints in troubled spots and motorists pulling over to wish him well.

In the first leg of his exhausting bid to raise pro-life and peace awareness, the priest said he was able to share his concerns with many people and understand deeply the lives and problems of average Filipinos from Mindanao and Visayas.

“I noticed the poverty of the people. Obviously, the mining and logging in Samar has not benefited the people there, which, like many provinces in Mindanao and Palawan, is very rich in natural resources but it is one of the poorest provinces,” he said.

“This is also a continuation of my pilgrimage, my sacred journey. This is how I see my life,” he said.

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