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Biker pilgrims complete Bisikleta Iglesia cycle 6.

THE country's only Visita Iglesia on wheels marked its sixth year as more than 200 cyclists joined Bisikleta Iglesia on April 13. Visita Iglesia is a sacred vow of Filipino Catholics who visit at least seven different churches to pray at every stop during the Lenten season. While others may opt to be transported to the visitation routes, many choose to do it on foot in remembrance of hardship and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Organized by Lima Park Hotel, Bisikleta Iglesia is an adaptation of that sacred vow that enjoins cyclists to a pilgrimage tour.

As a timely exercise of body and faith, Bisikleta Iglesia 2019 took the devotees and biker enthusiasts on a 42-kilometer journey where they visited seven churches in the towns of Santo Tomas and Malvar, and in the cities of Tanauan and Lipa.

The church route included the lakeshore churches of Santo Nino Parish Church in Marawoy, Lipa City; Saint Therese of Child Jesus, Lipa City; Church of Saint Francis of Paola in Lipa City; National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio, Santo Tomas; Saint John the Evangelist Parish Church, Tanauan City, Nuestra Senora de la Soledad Parish Church in Tanuan City; and the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Malvar.

Father Robert Reyes, 64, led the prayers and delivered reflective messages that touched on current social issues such as political persecution, environmental concerns and nationalism over China's encroachment on Philippine territory. Just like last year, 14 riders carried their own stations of the cross and assumed the responsibility of being station leaders.

This year's cycle also marked the first-time visits to the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio and the church of Saint Francis of Paola of the Order of Minims.

The Saint Padre Pio shrine is a popular faith tourism attraction in Batangas that draws thousands of devotees daily. In October 2018, the shrine housed the 'incorrupt heart' relic of Saint Padre Pio as part of an organized world tour. Considered as the 'Saint of the Millennium,' Saint Padre Pio is best known for his charity and gift of stigmata.

The church of Saint Francis of Paola is part of the Order of Minims monastery built in 2009 in Lipa City. The Minimum Nuns are founded by Saint Francis of Paola and practice a contemplative life in simplicity and in prayer. Mother Superior Sr. Rosemarie Raez led the prayer for the cyclists.

Ed Macarandang from Lipa, 59, is the oldest cyclist to join this year's Bisikleta Iglesia while Aaron Yu-sin, 12, is the youngest and a first-time participant who pedaled along his father.

Visit Batangas

LIMA Park Hotel's Director for Marketing and Corporate Communications Rose M. Landicho shared that the hotel has been working with the Department of Tourism to develop Batangas as one of the country's top destinations for religious tourism.

'Lipa, in particular, is a virtual showcase of beautiful churches, both old and new. In fact, Lipa is dubbed as the Little Rome of the Philippines, thanks to its numerous churches, chapels, convents and seminaries,' said Landicho. 'Our Bisikleta Iglesia is an excellent vehicle to promote the province, its attractions, rich culture and noble heritage.'

Lima Park Hotel, in Lima Commercial Estate, is the first and only four-star hotel in the province of Batangas.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 28, 2019
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