high school buddies hike for peace, nature
First posted 11:56pm (Mla time) April 17,
By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Editor's Note: Published on Page A17 of the
April 18, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
LUCENA CITY - They have been buddies since
high school at the Ateneo de Naga University two decades ago.
But instead of holding a Holy Week reunion
in their favorite pub and reminiscing about those rambunctious days amid
endless mugs of beer, the four embarked on a long hike from Calamba City
to the city of their roots, Naga -a 450-km stretch of the Maharlika and
Quirino highways - to deliver a strong message for peace and the
"We believe that the rape of nature is
also the cause of raging conflict in our midst. In this sense, peace and
environment are two related issues," said Edgar Ramores,
spokesperson of the group.
"The rape of nature and our natural
resources is not only the cause of man-made calamities that have ravaged
us but also the cause of poverty, dislocation and other social
ills," he said in an e-mailed statement to the Inquirer.
"To work, therefore,
for peace is to see that justice is done to our environment, to our
The highway trekkers and members of Ateneo
de Naga's High School Class 1987 are Ramores, who has a steel
fabrication and aluminum glass business; Michael Cuesta, a researcher at
the Social Science Research Center-Ateneo de Naga; Al Calara, a banker;
and Quintin Barachina, a telephone company employee.
Calara and Barachina are members of the
United Trekkers Club. Ramores
and Cuesta are based in Naga, while the other two have settled in
"We are brothers in several
We are one in many things, including the environment and social
issues," Ramores described the group.
They started preparing for the hike only in
February, exchanging information through the Internet and mobile phone
text messages. They walked 3-5 km a day, while two of them had climbed
two mountains in Cavite.
"The thought of just basking in the
friendship helped us prepare mentally," Ramores said.
At first, the group
planned to start their adventure at the Luneta a week earlier, but they
decided to take off instead in Calamba. Ramores and Cuesta, both coming
from Naga, would meet their two Manila-based friends there.
On April 8, the group hit the road at
Turbina at 4 a.m. "There was no departure ritual, just a general
orientation of do's and don'ts. No send-off party. No back-up vehicles.
But we did have a monitoring team checking on us at a particular
time," Ramores said.
Sporting colorful gears, jungle hats and
shades, the hikers took the left side of the road for safety. In their
backpacks were mist spray, sun blocks, two-way radios, mobile phones,
digital still and video cameras, dry-fit shirts, and a map.
Their shirts read: "When it rains, our
tears pour. Save our forests."
The punishing task was expected to bring
great discomfort. "Aching toes, soles, feet, thighs, legs, backs,
shoulders; source of water, and the heat! Too much heat!" Ramores
said in an e-mail.
A day after embarking on the journey along
asphalt and concrete roads, where speeding vehicles posed real danger,
two of them thought of quitting.
"It was drowned out by the outpour of
support. We received text messages and phone calls daily from friends,
family, and people we don't know personally?all expressing support in
our walk. It was very inspiring," said Ramores.
"There was no backing out. We already
made it this far," he said as the group spent the night in Gumaca
town in Quezon.
Every morning, they would wake up early and
take a quick bath. "We teased each other and traded jokes. We
reviewed and revised plan, stops and maps," Ramores said.
"We walked in [twos]. We did a lot of
pictorials. We smelled the flowers, sang in a makeshift videoke bar,
exchanged banter or struck a conversation with roadside storekeepers and
played with grass." Roadside
eateries offered heavy meals that included rice, vegetables and fish.
"We had eaten and
tasted almost all fruits we saw on the way - pakwan (watermelon), buko
(coconut), apple, caimito (star apple), melon, banana, mango, Ponkan
oranges," Ramores said.
"We started our walk before sunrise,
and rested before sunset (for security reasons). We didn't encounter
rain. But our decision was to walk, come rain or shine," he said.
In Lucena City and Gumaca, the group rested
in a hotel. In Tagkawayan and Sipocot, friends offered shelter for the
Serving as sponsors of the Holy Week trek
were friends, mountaineers, the Kaiba News and Features, and De Naga
Ramores said he thought of his family with
every step. To kill boredom, he picked up assorted items along the
route?battered coins, packs of cigarettes, a hat, stainless screw knot
"After we reach the finish line, I
want to go home, kiss my wife and children, and eat lots of fruits and
fish. We will have a reunion with other friends later," he said.
Finally, they arrived in Naga at around 7
p.m. on Wednesday and were welcomed by families and friends.
"Our firm belief in our advocacies is
our motivation. We can do
something as grueling for what we believe in. We want to
encourage/challenge others to do something in their own ways,"
In a statement, they explained that as they
tried hard to reach their goal, they also intended to draw inspiration
from their actual encounters with different places and people as
subjects of future literary pieces.
Good literary work develops through time
and should have a real brush with reality in so far as one intends it to
be realistic and scientific, Ramores said.
"The walk has in mind a compilation of
literary works as output. All forms may be used, such as poem, essay,
short story (including children's), song, tigsik and novel," Cuesta
said, adding: "Although literary work particularly refers to
written form, we do not exclude other artistic and cultural expressions
such as painting, photography, and the like."
Barachina explained that they were not
"We are not romancing the road. We
would walk just enough to be inspired and we would leave half of our
energy to reflect, discuss and write," he said. "During the
day, we were like laboratory scientists observing our specimens,
experimenting and come night time, we would write our observation
"We are not professional writers, just
walkers trying to write some sense - some social sense," Ramores
For any query or further information,
Al Calara at 0917-842-4884, or Egay Ramores
Click here to view the photos of our
Long Walk for Peace and Environment
with the Walkers for Peace
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