The Gift of Friendship: The Walking Group by Amelita Guevara

It began when Fr. Hugh started walking by himself early in the morning. Ito Velhagen got wind of it and started walking with him. The rest of us others started joining. This was in the early 80’s. Our route was from Church at 5 am, down Palm Ave, all the way to Amorsolo, Tamarind, Acacia, all the way to Paraiso and back to Church.

Pretty soon the numbers started growing. Added were Rene and Susan Concepcion, Cards and Amelita Guevara, Ray and Remy Reyes, Cesar and Menchu Bautista, Ben and Offie Adapon, Meding Suntay, Barbara Go, Marilou Tuason, Erlinda Velasco, Christian and Winnie Monsod, Lita Banson, Lita Lilles, Nena Villanueva, Tecman Alonso, Baby Cruz & Lourdes de Leon. Henrie Santos and Peachy Maramba would meet us at the corner of Acacia and Lumbang. They were the slow walkers. At our best, we were about 15 walkers and occupied the with the streets. And were pretty rowdy.

Luckily no car is out around this time. But there was one time a resident along our route complained to the barangay that we were disturbing the peace at that hour. What this resident failed to know was that 5 out of 7 Board Members of the Association were in our noisy Walking Group.

At the beginning we would only walk and then go straight to Mass in our shorts. One day, an older lady reprimanded us concerning our improper attireto to Mass. We took this well and from then on, we dressed properly. We stopped wearing shorts but still went to mass sweaty.

We continued walking for over 20 years. We even joined several rallies In the 1986 elections, we were all assigned by Winnie Monsod as NAMFREL volunteers in different areas of Makati Military zones, such as Pembo, Comembo, Rembo. These were the areas the goons of then Mayor Nemesio Yabut resided, and nobody wanted to watch the precincts there. Luckily Mayor Yabut died three days before election day. God was on our side. From there the women in our group joined the EDSA Revolution. Eventually Fr. Hugh said “We men should be ashamed of ourselves. These little women are out there and we are still doing our daily walk here.” Eventually they two went led by Rene.

First to go was Rene Concepcion who we considered as the Group captain. It was devastating for all of us. Then Cesar Bautista, Dante Santos, Fidi Maramba. Then Cards Guevara. It looked like the men went first. Knees were being replaced one by one. The first lady that left us was Henrie Santos, although she is not the oldest. Our friendship continues to this day.

Walking was no longer the exercise of the day. It was replaced by breakfast every morning after the 6:15 mass. The only 2 left walking are Erlinda Velasco who is the more consistent one, and me.

But while the activity has changed, what has endured is our friendship. We may disagree on many matters – and that makes our conversations every morning very spirited and interesting – but what binds us is our love of God and His Church.

As published in the December 11 issue of the Parish Bulletin.