I was supposed not to do the Alay Lakad this year in exchange for a pilgrimage in Mt. Maculot, but I remembered I made a vow to do it every year so I crossed out that mountain in Cuenca from my agenda to walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for the third time.
Melford and I left the house at almost 10:00 PM on Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012. We originally planned to take a bus to Ortigas but buses were rare and there was already a large crowd gathered at the bus stop, presumably all going to Antipolo.
We decided to go to Pasig instead and start walking from Simbahan ng Pasig. Mepot, who was doing the Alay Lakad for the first time, was overwhelmed with the amount of people going to Antipolo when we reached Ortigas Avenue. Most of them were in groups, some were with their families that included toddlers, while some were with their significant others, holding hands while walking towards Antipolo.
The only stop we took was when we decided to eat at a 24-hour Jollibee store we passed by along the way at around 12:00 AM. No more until we reached the First Station of the Cross.
Here’s Mepot at Jollibee:
He has just graduated from high school. Compare him with the pic below I took in 2008 with Princess (also inside a Jollibee store). I’m sure it’s not the same white t-shirt, though. LoL!
It was my first time to do the station as the people I had been during the previous years wanted to just go up to the church and rest. The words of God imparted in loud speakers in each station somehow uplifted my faith and inspired me more.
It was 2:43 AM when we reached the first station, and 3:56 AM when we reached the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. It was still closed at the time but people liked to go up to the guarded front door, throw coins inside the church and make a wish.
It was easier to get near the church doors because it was either a little organized this time, or fewer people did the Alay Lakad this year.
Those who wanted to wait for the church to open at 5:00 AM were prohibited to stay at the front of the church, and instead were made to wait at the side. Others opted to flock at the nearby Petron station, the vast space near USA 88, inside Villa Dolorosa, or in the fastfood restaurants in the area that took the opportunity to earn more by opting to open 24 hours for the Alay Lakad season.
On our way back, we had arroz caldo from a carinderia near USA 88. It was far from being as good as my mother’s lugaw but was still good enough to fill a tired and sleepy person’s tummy.
It was already daylight when we got back to Tikling, the place where you could catch a bus going back to Manila.
After a few minutes of sitting inside an air-conditioned bus, however, I started feeling the blisters on my feet. I knew it would take a few days to heal, but I also knew Jesus suffered more than just blisters to save me.