Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Alay Lakad Experience 2009

As me and my wife do every Maundy Thursday for the past 4 years, we walk from Cainta to the Antipolo Cathedral up the mountains of Antipolo City (As their banner now indicates, this is the pilgrimage capital of the Philippines). In this annual 3 to 4 hour pilgrimage from Cainta, I vowed not to drink nor eat until I reach the end of the climb. Along the way, you can also pray on different stations depicting the way of the cross as you go through this trek. This practice started with a handful of Marian devotees at least 2 decades ago as a vow of devotion to Our Lady of Antipolo. A few years later, various fraternities, local groups and a few punk 'tribes' joined in. As it grew in popularity and acceptance, many individuals also participated in the activity, gaining the recognition by the local goverment, prompting them to include it in their fiscal planning.

Before we started in the first station there was a message from the PA system that set up the mood and theme. In this era of instant convinience and gratification, its nice to, once in a while, slow down and give notice to all the things we take for granted. Like the way we walk in this pilgrimage, and thank the Lord for all the little things that we fail to take note of in our fast paced lifestyle.

But, as in all things in every culture, once it gets kitschy, it looses its core values and meaning. When you look around, the path is filled with people going out just to have a good time with friends. Fewer and fewer people are seen praying at the stations every year.

And the people just gets worse and worse. Two years ago it was a group of loud mouthed, skimpy dressed underaged girls in high heels with tons of makeup (skimpy as in backless spagetti strap tops with Japanese school girl skirts, looks more like they're out to hook up with foreigners...they're in for a big disappointment as I never saw any foreigners partake in this event).

Last year it was gays and transvestites acting up with 'sex in the city' inspired get ups, discussing loudly what part of the male anatomy they want the biggest and how long they can take. As we were going home, we rode with one 'tranny' wearing a two piece bikini and a mini micro skirt just a few millimeters above the crotch area (very unsightly).

(just like a sea of people)
This year it was a combination of both, along with a few disrespectful youths wearing devil costumes (there was a red devil and a green one), pickpockets, drunks harassing the female attendees and a rally held by right wing purists who keeps shouting that we're all going to hell because we don't do things their way, getting all 'I'm holier than you' with the crowd ...well, who can blame them, with what I've seen so far.

(pilgrims singing Francis M's "Kelaidoscope World")

("We're almost there"... the final stretch before the Antipolo Cathedral)
But on the bright side, there are still those devotees keeping true to their 'panata'. As it was written in the Bible, even if there is only one among you who is still faithful, I am willing to spare your lot.

(My wife and I resting outside at 7-11 after the pilgrimage)

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