CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - The man, who began walking 2,486 kilometers from Aparri town, Cagayan province, to Manila on Oct. 1 to draw attention to the financial needs of children stricken with cancer, reached Bulacan province on Friday.
Froilan Manubay Salaysay, 35, a training supervisor in a business processing group, reached Baliuag town in Bulacan and spent the day recuperating from sore feet.
Known to netizens as the "Walking Bear," Salaysay had been walking at an average of 30 to 40 kilometers a day in this journey, he told the Inquirer by phone.
Since leaving Aparri, Salaysay prayed as he walked to "create an awareness on the situation of our youngsters, especially those with limited treatment for cancer in government/public hospitals."
Donations, amounting to P1 or more, are received by the National Children's Hospital, a Department of Health-supervised facility in Quezon City.
Salaysay, a bachelor, picked up the cause of sick children as a way to thank God for giving him healthy nephews and nieces.
He could also make a Philippine record because the distance he is making by foot in 75 days covers 35 cities, 26 provinces, more than 140 towns from Aparri, then to General Santos City in Mindanao via RoRo, and finally, to San Juan City where he resides.
He seeks to reach General Santos City on the 74th day. From there, he would return to Manila by plane, resume the walk to the Museo ng Katipunan in San Juan City.
Salaysay has been walking by himself, at times joined by strangers who share the belief that sick children deserve to get more help from government.
He sleeps in fire and police stations. "That's where I feel safe," he said. "At first they hesitated [to let me in] but after they checked with their contacts, they welcomed me," he added.
Of late, he said it has been easier to retire for the night because station commanders would call their colleagues in advance to take care of him when he reaches the next city or town.
"I noticed that as I reach Luzon plains, the attitudes of people to strangers become more cynical. Must be because of cultural dynamics. People in the uplands are kinder," he said.
Salaysay is set to reach Manila on Monday and the National Children's Hospital the same day.