Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

March 1 updates on Lupang Hinirang Lupang Hinarang Farmers' Pilgrimage for CARPER

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

The pilgrim-farmers started their day earlier than usual. They woke up at 2:30 a.m. and after warming their stomach with hot coffee, started to walk as early as 5:00 am. They had a long way ahead since they intend to reach Calamba, Laguna, a 35-kilometer walk from San Pablo City.

Around 7:00 a.m., they arrived in Calauan, Laguna and decided to eat their breakfast graciously prepared by the Social Action Center of San Pablo City. After taking breakfast, they proceeded with their walk and arrived in San Isidro Cathedral Church at 10:00. While they were in the church, the parish priest offered them snacks which they took with delight.

From San Isidro Cathedral Church, they walked again and arrived in the San Agustin Parish in Bay where they were welcomed by Fr. Jessi Homosierra, Jr. It was in San Agustin that they ate their lunch.

Despite the long distance they still have to cover, they took a longer rest in San Agustin Parish burning the heat of the sun seemed to take over them. For Manong Nelson Nullas, the farmer leader of KAMMPE in Agusan del Sur the heat worsened his toothache. Likewise, the heat was too much for Manang Hilda San-ahan who already had swollen limbs because of arthritis.

Thus, despite their protestation, they were strongly advised to be in the jeep that carried the belongings of the pilgrim-farmers after being made to understand that they might not be able to make it to Manila if they force themselves to walk.

The burning heat of the sun forced the pilgrim-farmers to take four stop-overs. But they finally arrived in Calamba at 5:00 p.m. where the Calatagan farmers had been waiting for them.

There was a feeling of euphoria when the pilgrim-farmers symbolically converged in front of Rizal’s house in Calamba. They embraced, exchanged pleasantries, and chanted “Tuloy ang Laban!”

After the emotional meeting, they proceeded to St. John the Baptist. At 6:30 p.m., they attended the mass. After the communion, Yoyong Merida of the Sumilao farmers explained to the parishioners the essence and purpose of the pilgrimage. The pilgrim-farmers received the blessings after the mass. More people signified their support for CARPER by signing the citizens’ petition for CARPER.

Thereafter, they ate their dinner at the hall of St. John the Baptist Parish. And after dinner, warm conversation from old friends and new acquaintances flowed over the hall. The pilgrim-farmers were finally on their final stretch to Manila.

Later in the night, the pilgrim-farmers received text messages expressing support for their pilgrimage: “Our prayers go with our farmers” (from Bishop Iniguez); “Our diocese is with you in your struggle for land, will include your prayers in tomorrow’s mass” (from Fr. Greg Ramos, SAC of Paranaque); “God Bless the farmers and our prayers be with you” (from Fr. Clarence Patag, SAC of Lipa, Batangas).