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This Batangas couple has been walking non-stop around the Philippines for 146 days. Here's why

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published May 17, 2024 5:43 pm Updated May 17, 2024 6:02 pm

They say you have to go the extra mile to achieve your goals, but a married couple from Batangas City became literal proof of that as they’ve now been walking around the Philippines non-stop for 146 days.

Jay and Mira Abrera had been braving the scorching sun, hazardous heat waves, and the exhaustion that comes with traveling by foot for one reason: to strengthen their marriage and inspire others that love can surpass every obstacle that comes their way.

PhilSTAR L!fe spoke with the couple on what motivated them to take the first step to their journey of a thousand miles.

The two of them first crossed paths with each other during a Valentine's party organized by their church, and it didn't take long for sparks to fly between them. After tying the knot in 1999, they have since welcomed four boys and one daughter into the world.

Their walking challenge came after they joined a Facebook group called the Philippine Loop Adventure Tour, which is a tour-oriented project that is endorsed by the Department of Tourism.

Their main goal is to "promote the Philippines as a major sports and adventure destination in the Asia Pacific Region" by encouraging both Filipinos and foreign travelers to explore the country "over a prescribed 5,000 kilometer route."

While most members choose to take on the challenge with their trusty vehicles and other modes of transportation, Jay and Mira opted to go the old-fashioned way and use nothing but their own two feet to travel around the country.

"Tinanong po namin kung may gumawa ng lakad version na mag-asawa sa ahensya at sinabi nila na wala pa daw po, kaya naisip namin na gumawa [ng version ng] mag-asawang maglalakad," Jay said.

More than fulfilling travel goals

Promoting tourism isn't Jay and Mira's only objective during their challenge. 

Being active members of the church, the couple shared that they want to share their testimony with other people that they encounter during their travels, especially with regard to family matters.

"Bukod sa paglalakad namin sa buong Pilipinas, nagbabahagi rin kami sa mga tao kung paano po pagtibayin 'yung pagsasama ng mag-asawa. So 'yun 'yung walk for a cause namin," Mira explained.

"Palagi naming sinasabi na hindi solusyon 'yung paghihiwalay kapag nagkaroon ng problema 'yung mag-asawa. Laging sinasabi namin na the more na marami kayong problema sa buhay, bilang mag-asawa ay mas mahalin niyo ang isa't isa para gumaan 'yung problema," she added.

Despite this, Mira admitted that even their relationship as husband and wife isn't perfect.

"Nagtatampuhan din kami, may mga bagay din kami na hindi napaguunawaan, pero napagtagumpayan namin. At ngayon nga medyo nagtatampuhan kami nang kaunti, pero mamaya okay na," she said.

Handling the heat

The two of them began their journey on Dec. 6 last year in Batangas City, and have since reached multiple destinations such as Subic in Zambales, Alaminos in Pangasinan, Tinoc in Ifugao, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, and Aparri in Cagayan.

They are still aiming to reach their checkpoints in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, with their ultimate target being General Santos City.

As the Philippines is currently in the dry season, with some areas in the country having reached dangerous heat index levels in April, how are Jay and Mira managing to stay cool?

"Lagi kaming umiinom ng tubig, naglalagay kami ng towel sa leeg namin kasi sobrang init po talaga sa paglalakad namin, especially ngayong May," Mira said. "Nagpapahinga kami sa tanghali, mga 1:00 pm hanggang 4:00 pm, minsan 12 noon hanggang 3:00 pm."

"Sa gabi, hanggang 9:00 pm kami [naglalakad] kasi bumabawi kami. Compared nung nasa north kami, hindi kami naglalakad ng gabi. Mga 6:00 pm pa lang pahinga na kami, pero ngayon nagpapahinga kami sa tanghali," she added.

Their walking challenge is no walk in the park, and it will probably take a few more years before they'll be able to finish it—something that their other family members weren't too happy about at first.

"Nung umpisa, parang nalungkot sila kasi aalis kami, lalo na 'yung mga anak naming medyo malaki na, pero 'yung maliliit, okay lang sa kanila. Pero alam nila na ang gagawin namin is missionary work," Mira said.

So what's next for the husband and wife after they've reached the finish line of their 5,000-kilometer journey?

According to Mira, "Siguro next, ibang bansa naman ang lalakarin namin."