CAMINO PORTUGUES, September 4-21, 2017

Oct 31, 2017

by Anselmo B. Mercado


Journal 1 – Introduction and Preparation


The Invitation and the Visa Story:


          To undertake the “Camino Santiago” is always challenging in many aspects, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical. Along with it are many benefits and attractions it offers – adventure, tourism, educational, spiritual enlightenment and enrichment, etc.. One who takes the journey can choose from several routes (e.g., the Camino FrancésCamino Portugues, etc.).


          My brother and I undertook the 843-kilometer “Camino Francés” in April-May 2012. That Camino was so wonderful and rewarding that when Lito invited me sometime in April 2017 to join him in another Camino, the “Camino Portugues” which he planned for September 4-21, 2017, I said, “Why not?”

Peregrino Angelo & Anselmo & Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, 2012 Camino Francés

Peregrino Angelo & Anselmo & Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, 2012 Camino Francés

          I must confess though that I had given it several second thoughts, “Can I do it at my age of 74?” I psyched and motivated myself, “This Camino Portugues is only 250 kilometers, why not?” I called up two good friends and invited them, the good Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese, Antonio J. Ledesma, SJDD, and Eduardo “Bong” Pelaez, because of their interest in the Camino Santiago. They told me later,“with regrets much as they wanted to” for personal reasons.So I started to plan my preparation strategy.


          As early as June 2017, I sought the help of a travel agency to work on my Schengen visa and flight reservations to synchronize with my brother’s travel itinerary. The travel agency and I thought that the visa processing would be a “song” considering that I had undertaken the Camino Santiago before with the Spanish Embassy granting me the Schengen visa. We were wrong! My first application at the Spanish Embassy was rejected.


          This visa processing story would turn out to be a real mess and it ended in a thrilling photo-finish fashion.Up to the last minute I thought I would not get one. To make a long story short, the travel agency thought of a clever strategy to apply at the French Embassy. It worked, but it cost me substantially more than expected. It was also stressful. In the last analysis, I believe the Good Lord, Our Lady of Fatima andSanTiago really wanted me to do the CaminoPortugues, much to my desire.


          After this Journal 1, a series of Journals will follow — detailed accounts of the daily journey of dos hermanos, Filipinosperegrinos of Santiago de Compostela.


The Preparation (July-August):


To prepare was in itself a multiple challenge. A physical fitness program was my first concern. Along with it was to psyche and motivate myself to do it. The spiritual “shaping up” had put me in many a spiritual reflection mode at varying times, places and activities. Here came something appropriate I learned from the Jesuits –“every action can be a prayer if we communicate with Our Lord”.


          I started to do slow jogging for three kilometers daily during the first week of July. I gradually increased the pace and the distance to 4 and 5, until I could do 6 kilometers in 45 minutes on the third week. Every other day, I had a physical work-out program in my home including some weight-lifting and various calisthenics to tone up my feet, ankles, legs, knees, thighs, arms, fingers,  shoulders, stomach, hips, back, neck and head. I knew that in the Camino, walking was one thing, carrying a backpack of about eight kilograms was another.


          On the 7th week, I was already doing 9-10 kilometers of slow jogging. By the 9th week, I accomplished a 12-km slow jog from my home in Patag all the way to Manresa Farm and back in 2 hours. I said to myself, “I’m ready for a 24-30 kilometer walk in the Camino.”

SanTiago (St.James)

SanTiago (St.James)

SanTiago Matamoros

SanTiago Matamoros


          One big concern preoccupied me during this preparation stage – a possible injury, an ailment of some kind (minor or serious), an unexpected happening. I constantly prayed to spare me from any of these. The objective was to sustain a wholesome state of well-being.


          I was grateful to the Heavens, all these preparations came out well, topped by the fact that I finally got my Schengen visa in thrilling fashion issued by the French Embassy. With that I declared myself “fit”, healthy and sound, to be on my way to the “Camino Portugues”.


          All this time, my brother and I were regularly communicating by email or viber or skype. As in our first Camino, Lito did all the planning of our journey (i.e., itinerary, distances to walk daily, albergues to lodge in, items to bring, etc.). When I called him to say, “It’s go!”, we were delighted and thrilled, but only to be disturbed with a bad news just two days before our scheduled departure. His son, Jeff, figured in a serious accident with a motorcyclist who was critically injured (Jeff was not).Everything was put “on hold”. The decision was finally made, upon advice from Jeff himself — proceed as planned all the more because he would need our fervent prayers, and that he could take care of himself.


ORACIÓN (PRAYERtranslated from Español)


“Oh, Most Virgin Peregrina, Our Queen and Our Lady,

our Guardian, Refuge and Guide in our journey,

look with eyes of mercy,

and welcome us into your maternal lap;

teach us the precepts and values of the Gospel,

guide us in our life’s journey,

through the paths of Justice, love and peace,

to attain grace, the goal of our existence,

fromthe hand of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen.”


(Approved with blessings by the Archbishop of Santiago,

26, July 2007.

Imprenta C. Peón, Pontevedra, España,

Cofradía, Señoradel Refugio, La DivinaPeregrina)


References for all Journals:

1.Brierley, JohnA Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Portugues.8th Edition.

  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica15TH Edition, William Benton Publisher, 1992.
  2. Mercado, AnselmoB..Camino Frañces JournalsApril-May 2012.
  3. Various Documents:
  • Fátima, Edicᾶo do Santuario de Fἀtima, Leaflet, 2016.
  • Itinerary Jubilee, Centennial of the Apparitions of Fatima, LeafletPastoral Year 2016-2017.
  • The Ways of St. James, Vist Porto (Map of Porto), Leaflet, Official Porto Tourism Office.
  • Magic Tour, Leaflet, Tourism of Portugal.
  • NuestraSeñoradel Refugio, La DivinaPeregrinaStampita,Pontevedra, España.

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