One Fine Day For A Solo Bicycle
Touring Around The City
Photos & Story by JUN REYNALES
March 30, 2018, Holy Family Village, Taguig City -- Everything started as a desire and a plan to go out for a solo bicycle ride. Initially, I thought of pedalling up towards Tagaytay City via
Emilio Aguinaldo Hi-way or the old
Laguna national road then pedal up thru Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road, and
then spend a quiet weekend around Tagaytay. Realizing that it would
not be a great idea since I believe that half of Metro Manila would
probably spending their vacation time-off this Holy Week there with
their families and friends. Nah, opted for my back-up plan. Decided
to go around Metro Manila
(since there would be minimal cars, buses, and motorcycles on the
major thoroughfares... and it is then, a Visita-Iglesia
(Church Visits) to some of the churches around the city... with
just me and my bicycle.
|Solo bike touring on a Good Friday.|
The day before I loaded up my bags with provisions that I will need to ride safely solo: my spare clothes and raincoat, my food and drinks that can sustain me for 24 hours , my first aid kid, bike repair kits with extra tubes/patch kits/glue/etc, charged LED lights batteries, and safety device (read: self-defence equipment he he).
|First church visit: Baclaran Church.|
Arriving half-past 7:00 AM in Remedios Church, it was already teeming with people. You can
see a lot of vehicles jockeying for a good parking
spot on such a limited parking space. Saw some people who visited the
previous church I came from – and a lot of groups of bicyclists
too. All jockeying for the perfect groupie photos with their matching
barangay bicycling jerseys. They all came prepared... in droves. He
he. After a set of my rosary prayers, I pedalled to my next church
visit in Intramuros – San Agustin Church
and Basilica Minor of Manila Cathedral.
|Second church stop: Remedios Church|
|Third church stop: San Agustin Church|
It was a scenic and leisure pedalling solo experience through Roxas Boulevard (from Baclaran Parañaque towards the Walled City of Intramuros Manila. Arriving to the place with humungous volume of people, despite most tourism establishments were closed for the Holy Week holiday. From church visitors, loads of vendors, foreign tourist (probably curious on how we Filipinos spend our holidays), and securing the whole area were the lock-and-loaded SAF police units and uniformed
Red Cross staffs, the church staffs from San Agustin and Manila
Cathedral. There too were the familiar faces of bicycle groupies
jockeying for those perfect spot for their team photos – in their
swanking barangay bicycle jerseys. I’m just wondering – are they
here really to do a real visita-iglesia
and pray... or take tons of selfies for their Instagram, Facebook and
other social media sites to say that “they’ve been there, done
that”. So far I have not seen anybody yet
who had a rosary and paused for a few minutes of prayers. More it
seems are pre-occupied on their mobile phones.
Tragic. Anyway, after my rosary and silent prayers while in San
Agustin and Manila Cathedral, I pedalled towards my
next set of
churches – Binondo Church, Santa Cruz
Church, San Sebastian Church and Quiapo Church in Manila.
|Fourth church stop: Manila Cathedral|
|Fifth church stop: Binondo Church|
Pedalling across Jones Bridge I head first towards Binondo Church. The church and its surrounding were already jam-packed with visitors, teeming outside the church were ambulant vendors who sells candles, prayer books, and other knick-knacks. Noticed some barefooted devotees around, I realized that after my next visit site to Santa Cruz church, it would be best to go first to San Sebastian Church to wait off for the Good Friday Procession schedule from Quiapo Church. I opted to keep myself and stuffs safe from pickpockets as not to ruin the rest of my bike ride. He he. Finishing my rosary and prayers, I pedalled around the streets of Binondo. With little to less establishments closed that day, it was a peaceful pedalling up and down the streets of Chinatown and head towards Santa Cruz Church.
|Sixth church stop: Santa Cruz Church|
After just a few minutes I am in Santa Cruz Church. Big volume of people in the church vicinity inside-out by this time. Saw some groupie bicyclists with the groupie pictures again. Volume of devotees of the Black Nazarene heading towards Quiapo Church for the scheduled procession. Seeing the volume of people, decided that
traversing Hidalgo Street to go to Quiapo Church I opted to turn left
in Rizal Avenue to turn right Recto Avenue to head first instead to
San Sebastian Church after my rosary and prayers. It was a bit dodgy
trying to avoid barefooted devotees – young and old – as I
pedalled towards San Sebastian Church. I left a little past 10:00 AM
Santa Cruz Church by this time.
|Seventh church stop: San Sebastian Church|
Safely arrived at San Sebastian Church. Now loads of people within the vicinity and inside the church. It was almost 11:00 AM and the sun starts to sizzle. Positioned myself just outside the church underneath the little shed in the middle of the quadrangle. It eases a bit the scorching summer heat by this time. After my rosary and prayer, decided to stay put and partake my packed lunch – a canned tuna paella, a chocolate bar, few of my peanut butter biscuits, and bottled water. A bit of a relief as a gentle breeze of winds blew to cool off the mid-day summer heat... while I am seated in the middle of the quadrangle shed. A little bit of Heaven to say the least.
After an hour past twenty, I packed up and pedalled towards Quiapo Church. Worming myself
through the streets in
the area, semblance of the just-concluded procession abound: filthy
smelling air and tons of garbage surrounded the streets.
Disheartening as people never learns. I wonder if during the times of
Christ, procession aftermath were as filthy and dirty as it is now?
One can only wonder if religion was even considered by these
so-called devotees. I doubt it though. Anyway,
arrived Quiapo Church via the access underneath Quezon Bridge were
the Quinta Market was once located. There are
still semblance of what transpired in earlier festivities – so does
the infamous “manghuhulas”
who plies their trade and for those (gullible enough) to learn what
future lies ahead of team. No shed or a place to conveniently stay
nor seat as the whole area in the Liwasang Bonifacio was occupied to
the rafters. No choice for me but to say my rosary and prayers
underneath the scorching mid-day sun and leave afterwards. Anyway,
it was in the first place, a day expected to be of a good sacrifice
and prayers. Enough said. Finished my
objective around 1:15PM and pedalled towards Quezon Bridge and turned
right in Hidalgo Street area on towards Jones Bridge. Next stop, a
few minutes rest towards Luneta Park
in front of the Orchidarium
area with lots of trees for some rest and eat another part of my
canned tuna paella lunch and water.
|Eight church stop: Quiapo Church|
|Brief rest at Luneta Park|
Recharged after a thirty minutes of cooling off underneath the trees of that Orchidarium, pedalled towards a now-manageable light vehicular traffic of Taft Avenue from Luneta Park all the way towards Vito Cruz Street. Initially targeting the old Santa Ana Church but I took a wrong turn and got lost along the way, so I decided to proceed to the next plan and option as not to waste an extra time. I head towards Makati through Pasong Tirad then Pasong Tamo... towards my former school and alma mater Don Bosco Parish in San Lorenzo Makati. Finally, I was able to seat in a chair for the first time within the day. He he! Thank God for that mono-block chair that I borrowed to the guy who was busy in making the final touches for that carosa to be used in the
late afternoon religious procession. Finished my
rosary and prayers after a few minutes and pedalled off to my next
|Ninth church stop: Don Bosco Makati|
St. Paul Church in Poblacion Makati was my next stop. Remembering the good times with laughter and fun with my beautiful, witty, and charming students when I taught them photography and photojournalism. Offered prayers to them too as most of them finished their Grades 6 and 12 levels a few days ago. After my rosary and prayers, I was approached by a man and was asked if I biked the whole day in my church visits. He was awed
and was amused
in the exchanged stories we had. Met his wife
and two beautiful daughters. Surprisingly,
one was about to take up photography in Miriam College, the other was
a scuba diver who is flying the next day to dive to Maldives. When he
asked aside from mountain biking, what other sports do I do? Told him
I am a licensed advance scuba-diver and also into recreational
kayaking, and is a photographer, he was surprised as I had common
things with his two daughters. He said, “It must be fate
and destiny meeting you.” I added, “Or it
could be serendipity too.”
He then afterwards asked for my number so I gave him my business
card. His daughters asked if they can add me up to get in touch next
time thru Facebook, and I gladly gave them “yes” and told each
that I look forward to see them in a shared adventure too. Bade my
farewell to this wonderful family hopeful, and pedalled towards J.P.
Rizal Avenue to cross Guadalupe Bridge and heads towards Pateros for
my next church visit. It was a few minutes past 3:00 PM now.
|Tenth church stop: St. Paul Church|
After some down-sloping and inclines around the streets of Guadalupe Nuevo and West
in Makati, reached the end bridge of Makati that connects to the town
of Pateros. Just a few
meters would be the San Roque Church.
The whole streets leading to the church is now closed to vehicular
traffic as they prepare for the afternoon religious procession. The
whole area is teeming with people, carosas,
young and old with their candles, waiting for the activity to start
by 5:00PM. Finished my
rosary and prayers around 10 mins prior the starting time of the
procession. Had to pedal out as not to get stuck up with the sea of
people and would not be able to ride for an hour or more. I
just rode past them now. I need to try to
catch up towards the church in Wawa Taguig before their procession
|Eleventh church stop: San Roque Church|
Too late. The procession in Wawa Church began and thousands of people, towed carosas, and devotees are heading towards me, no choice now but to skip this visit, the streets around the church are pretty narrow and now all flooded with people. From Wawa I pedalled right towards M.L. Quezon Avenue in Tuktukan Taguig, pedalled towards my planned exit route towards the Bike Pathway along C-6 Road in Taguig City. I want to see for myself if indeed this advertised bike path is as good as it says it is. Turned left towards Bay Breeze area to pedal towards C-6. It was around 5:30PM this time.
|Quaint part in Laguna de Bay|
Pedalling the Bike Path along C-6 is uneventful. The path is still unfinished in most parts,
as cemented portions are
likened to an old man with some toothless spaces in between. I am not
surprised, and neither will I be surprised if the whole of this bike
path would be a 100% completed. Let’s just say I’m just one
Doubting Thomas on this one. Good thing I am using a mountain bike
and on a pair of 2.2 WTB Raptor tires...
so soil, gravel, sand, and uneven roads are much appreciated by my
bike. I am not sure it will be as forgiving for a road bike – even
for those entry levels (read: cheap ones).
Hehe. Without some picturesque portions of Laguna De Bay, it would be
a definite boring bike ride for an un-initiated bike commuter. Can’t
say much about this ride but at least very less motorcycles zooms
this path (as the whole path is still unfinished and would be
dangerous for motorcycles as they can be skewered by protruding iron
rods like Ric Secreto’s accident in Gil Puyat-EDSA fly-over
connecting BGC). So for now, I’ll enjoy the unfinished bike path
for bicycle riders and joggers.
|Paved portion of C-6 Bike Ways|
Arrived home by 6:30PM. Tired and sore from practically 12 hours pedalling, under the scorching Good Friday heat, but satisfied I finished what I came up to do. It was a sacrificing day of some sort for me but worth every effort. Met some wonderful people and strangers along the way too. It was a good 65 kms. Ride today. By 7:00PM I am off to dreamland and probably snoring... satisfied to the day that was. Indeed... Life is Good!