The Manila Times Friday, April 25, 2008
The Calatagan farmers are walking on their fourth day since they began their Lakbay Kalampag para sa Lupang Pansakahan on Monday. During the last three days, the walking Calatagan farmers spent the nights in Balayan, Lemery and Batangas City. They have logged 98 kilometers in the first three days and will be crossing the 100th kilometer mark on their 40-kilometer leg from Batangas City to Lipa City. Gari Lazaro, coordinator of the Calatagan march, said that the first two days were the most punishing for the marchers. “The farmers have already adjusted. On the third day, they walk as if they are one body at times at a pace of eight kilometers per hour. The distance, the pace and the heat are punishing but they are inspired by the gestures of support they receive along the way” Lazaro said.
In Lemery, Batangas last Tuesday, the Calatagan farmers were welcomed by Fr. Lito Malibiran, parish priest of San Roque Parish, who celebrated the Mass with the farmers. They spent the evening in the parish and were provided with food and fresh water. Fr. Mabiliran is also the chairperson of the ecology committee of the Archdiocese of Lipa.
In Batangas City on Wednesday, Mayor Eddie Dimacuha made arrangements for the Calatagan farmers to be housed at the Batangas East Elementary School. He also dispatched a medical team from the Batangas City Health Office to provide the farmers medical checkup as well as medicines. Barangay Chairman Robert Mendoza also expressed his support to the farmers and donated rice and canned goods.
Ka Virgie Dimalaluan, spokesperson of the Calatagan farmers, said that they were touched by the show of support from the church and local governments. She said that even ordinary people extend gestures of support. “We are inspired by even the smallest gesture of support form the ordinary people we pass by. Some hand us food and water and even money from their pockets,” Dismalaluan said.