It was one of those traditional Catholic rites I looked forward to accomplish at least once in this lifetime. On the eve of Good Friday, curiousers and devotees from all over Manila trek the main passages of Cainta for a yearly pilgrimage to the Antipolo Cathedral. Known to pilgrims as Alay Lakad, the slow procession winding up the hills of Sierra Madre reenacts the journey of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. As to what journey it was (whether it was from Acapulco in Mexico to Intramuros in Manila, or from the plains of Pasig to the hill top sanctuary east of the Loyal and Noble city), I have no idea.
Alay Lakad for me - is first and foremost, an excuse to gaze upon the metropolis at 3 in the morning from a breathtaking vista.
However, Holy Thursdays have always been reserved for the Visita Iglesia. A time-honored tradition with my mother, which unfortunately, was cancelled this year because we had no car driver. I also had work that night so it was difficult to squeeze the church visits because we had little time. I went straight to the office after sleeping all day, and from Mandaluyong, where my office is located, the pilgrims marched in their backpacks and slippers along the stretch of the boulevard.
I was envious.
Knowing our product training for the new project ends at past midnight, it became my intention to make the trip, even if it would mean going solo.
But the Almighty had other plans.
The product training extended for another two hours, and when I left the office and reached Shaw Boulevard, it was deserted. Gone are the soul searchers in large groups and pairs who occupied the pedestrian lane. I was contemplating, that, if I start walking at half past 2 in the morning, I'd reach the cathedral at 6 am. So much for my idea of a night stroll. And if not for a colleague who lives in Rizal, and who prodded me to pursue the Alay Lakad, I would postpone it for next year. He was the one who suggested that I'd ride a jeep to Cainta and disembark at the Junction instead.
Knowing how rare such opportunity comes, I followed my colleague's advise and started my pilgrimage at an intersection, where we both separated ways.