RIZAL PROVINCE—Pilgrims from around Metro Manila and neighboring cities and towns on Maundy Thursday trekked to Antipolo City to remember Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.
The traditional trek, called “alay lakad” (walk offering), brings about 2 million devotees annually. Some pilgrims begin their journey from as far as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, then walk their way to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as Antipolo Cathedral.
Most devotees come with their families and friends. Some say they have been doing this for years as an act of penance in accordance to the salvation from Christ.
Historical accounts state that the pilgrimage to Antipolo began in the late 1600s upon the arrival of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s wooden image from Acapulco, Mexico.
Jhoanna Mae Ignacio, 22, came from Dasmariñas City, Cavite, but started her trek in Tikling, Taytay. She said she has no particular petition but she just wanted to express her devotion.
“Nakikita namin ang sakripisyo ni God para sa mga kasalanan namin. Gusto lang din namin ma-experience kung ano ’yung ginawa para sa atin,” Ignacio said.
(We see here God's sacrifice to save us from our sins. We just want to experience what He had endured for us.)
Meanwhile, Bayani Nebreja has passed the tradition on to his daughters.
“Sabi ko sa mga anak namin, ‘Sana kung ano ang napagsimulan namin na magandang gawain, ganon din ang gawin nila at sa mga magiging anak nila. Maniwala lang sila sa mahal na Panginoon na talagang ibinibigay ng Panginoon ang lahat ng hihilingin nila,’” he said.
(I told our children, ‘Hopefully, they will continue the good thing that we started, and they well also pass it on to their children. They just have to believe in God that all their prayers will be granted.’)
Many people, even those who are not Catholics, hand out free refreshments to the pilgrims along the route.
An Indian community spent P15,000 to provide 3,000 bottles of water and juice along Ortigas Avenue Extension.
Generation Congregation youth group, meanwhile, performed a free concert for trekkers in Tikling.
“Along with the Catholics, we celebrate the same reason. We’re not here to protest but to say good job to everyone for doing what they’re doing today, we wanted to compliment that. Maybe before they head up to Antipolo, they could stop by, rest, and get some music in them to charge them up for the walk,” said Generation Congregation’s pastor Jordan Escusa.
Antipolo Bishop Francis de Leon said the essence of alay lakad is about enduring sacrifice for future gains.
“Ang alay lakad ay nagpapaalala sa atin ng paglalakbay patungo sa tahanan ng ating Ama. Kaya ang maganda sa mga naglalakad, hindi ’yung daldalan, hindi ’yung text, nagdarasal sila habang naglalakad,” de Leon said.
(Alay lakad reminds us of the journey to the Kingdom of God. What is beautiful about those who trek is not the chitchats and texting, but the prayers while walking.)