Wednesday, May 17, 2006

First (and Second, and Third) Philippine Flags Planted On Mount Everest!

Update: A must read from Ambeth Ocampo...on the connection between Tenzing Norgay, the sherpa who is credited along with Sir Edmund Hillary with the 1953 summit of Mt. Everest's peak. Seems the Nepalese mountain climber once sired a daughter, Nima Tenzing-Galang, who married a Filipino graphic artist!

A third Filipino climber, Romeo Garduce, has also reportedly summited the mountain today, for a 1-2-3 accomplishment that will be talked about, justifiably, for a long time to come.

Get all the latest info at the Mount Everest Philippine Expedition Website.

UPDATE: 0840 18 May: Live report from Mt. Everest Base Camp has it that a second Filipino mountaineer reached the summit at 5:30 AM GmT+8, just 12 hours after the first climber reached the peak yesterday. More at ExplorersWeb.

LEO ORACION, a champion Filipino adventure racer is reported to have just planted the first Philippine flag on the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, according to sponsor ABSCBN Network. The official time was 17:30 GMT+8. A second member of the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expeditionary Team, Pastor Emata is said to be following a day or so behind; and a third climber, sponsored by rival GMA Network, Romy Garduce, is also on his way up and could make it a stunning 1-2-3 achievement for Filipino mountaineers this year. People should be warned at this point that getting to the top is only HALF the battle, since the descent from the summit, while less dramatic, remains the most dangerous part of such an epic trek.

Here is a link to a satellite image of the Mt. Everest region in Nepal (courtesy of Google Maps). The summit of Mt. Everest stands at 8848 meters above sea level. Also flag link.

Explorers Web
has all the action covered on Mount Everest this week including a double amputee making it to the summit, along with the first Turkish woman to summit and a pair of Scandinavians who are skiing back down the mountain.

The British Army Team on Mt. Everest has a beautiful website with this page devoted to explaining the route up to the summit. The Brits are doing well although they had to ship their canine mascot, Shipton, back to the British Isles, after the dog ate THIRTY eggs belonging to the Sherpas with the team. I guess we Filipinos would know what to do with such uncouth and uncultured beasts...just don't tell the Canadians!

Sadly, at least six people have already died on the mountain this season, including four sherpas working on fixing ropes for various climbers, including some who are paying tourists.

Philippine Commentary proudly salutes all!

Above watercolor by Arnold Arre seems apropos on this occasion.

BACKGROUND on the members of the First Mt. Everest Philippine Expedition Team is contained in this Google Groups post by Ben Tumbling earlier this month.
Formidable free spirits, Filipinos all, with one goal -- to uplift the Pinoy spirit and empower them with an achievement the entire race can share. The Filipino assault on Mt. Everest in 2007 has been but a dream until the formation of this expert expedition team made up of the country's most passionate mountain climbers and adventure athletes. Together, they will ascend to the world's highest peak and shout from the mountaintops that indeed, the Filipino can!

Arturo T. Valdez expedition leader

His passion for mountain climbing gave birth to this First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition. A master outdoorsman from Bacolod, he had wanted to assemble a team to assault the world's highest peak as far back as the 70's. By recruiting the members of this expedition, he is a step closer to making the Everest dream a reality for all Filipinos.

Ari Ben C. Sebastian

A corporate lawyer on weekdays, he's also a mountain warrior and extreme sports buff on the weekends. An accomplished scuba diver, skydiver and alpine climber, this former president of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (MFPI) was one of the first Pinoys to reach the Himalayas in the 80's.

Fred B. Jamili

His love affair with Mother Nature and mountain climbing stretches for nearly 30 years. This veteran has climbed most, if not all the known mountains in the Philippines, and some abroad. One of the expedition team's leaders, he is also an accomplished caver and adventure race setter.

Regie Pablo

One of the expedition's prime movers and team leaders, he is the current president of the MFPI on leave from his day job at Globe Telecom. A skilled mountaineer, he has conquered Razdelnaya Peak in Kyrgyzstan, Mts. Aylmenr and Cook in New Zealand among others.

Florentino 'Jong' Narciso

He is a physical education instructor in the International School. He is also and accomplished mountaineer, climbing gym instructor and adventure race setter.

Erwin Emata

Fondly called Pastor by the group, this Davaoeño's love for the outdoors is matched by his boundless, enthusiastic energy. The team's morale booster and resident comic, he is one of the best adventure racers in the country, having won numerous races such as the Carera Habagat, Survival Challenge in Guimaras, and Survival of the Fittest in Escalante, Negros.

Leo Oracion

Also one of the country's most prominent adventure racers, this Cebuano has also conquered international adventure races such as the AXN Challenges in various parts of Asia and the 10 day expedition racing in NZ.

Karina Davondon

One of the youngest and few women in the group, she is a formidable sport climber from Cagayan de Oro City. Recently, she joined the expedition to the peak of Mt. Muztagh Ata (7,546 meters or 24,758 feet) in China-Pakistan. This is the highest peak ever reached by a Filipino - or a Filipina!

Juan 'JB' Añonuevo

A freespirit who could not rein in his love for the outdoors, he quit his job in government and became a fulltime mountain guide in his native Mayon in Bicol. He is also a sought after race setter and winning adventure racer.

Levi Nahayangan

A climber from Lagaw, Ifugao province, he turned his passion for climbing into a thriving business, with Lagalag, a shop which supplies outdoor apparel to other mountaineers. He is also an accomplished mountain and rock climber and adventure racer.

Larry Honoridez

A mountaineer and adventure racer extraordinaire, he joined the expedition in order to bring pride to his family and country.

Janet Belarmino

A member of the University of the Philippines Mountaineers, she is also a fitness instructor for the Moro Lorenzo Fitness Gym in Ateneo. An excellent sport climber, lawn tennis coach and champion triathlete, she is also a consistent winner in the Philippine and HongKong legs of the AXN adventure races.

Ariel Ambayec

A mountaineer from Mandaluyong, this father of two has also been a participant of several adventure races.

Noelle Wenceslao

A prized member of the Dragonboat team, she (along with teammate Janet Belarmino) was also a winning fixture in the AXN races here and in Hong Kong. Noelle is also an expert biker and extreme adventure athlete and mountaineer while attending class as a Physical Education student.

Dr. Ted Esguerra

The team's physician is also from the Philippine Coast Guard. An accomplished mountaineer himself, he has conducted studies on the effect on high altitudes on climbers with the United States Air Force, making him an indispensable caretaker of the team's physical health on Everest.

John Tronco

The team's official video and photo documentor, his mastery of capturing nature's beauty on film is only matched by his passion for climbing.

Choi Aquino

This mountaineer, caver, and in-demand adventure racer lends his considerable strength and skill to help ensure the success of the Pinoy Everest ascent.
The wife of Expedition Leader Art Valdez reveals the plan for the entire Philippine Team to summit Mt. Everest by 2007, including the three women in the list above.



Hi Dean,

Just read that in the Inquirer!


The going was tough but the tough got going and got there!

Pinoys are an incredible race - some are just dirty rats but others are born champs!

Rizalist said...

amazing actually. i didn't think they were going to attempt a summit this year at all. there's at least 2 more of them headed for the summit. we could have 3 flags on the mountain in a few days. I think Filipinos are "breaking out" of the archipelago...they're among the first global citizens, being forced out into the world as they have been.


So heartwarming to see a Pinoy on the international plateau by literally climbing a mountain...

My hubby is the first to believe that Pinoys are an extraordinary race, that Pinas for that matter has what it takes to be among the best of the best if only they could all get it in their heads to do the right thing in terms of governance!

Good governance produces a generally good people and a good people will produce more Leo Oracions.

Dominique said...

This is great news! W00t!


I just read that one of the climbers, a Swedish, fell and hasn't been found yet.

Rizalist said...

there is actually some suspense as THREE are making serious summit attempts. Each is a dramatic story...or could be. I'm not breathing any sighs of relief until all three are back safely at Base Camp. Lots of people did summit this past week, not just Pinoys. But we have arrived Baby!
There are 120 unrecovered bodies on the mountain...someday they will be found, as reminders of our own era in history.

But this is not the time to leave a Filipino time capsule on the Himalayan mountains!

Amadeo said...

I read it is part of Sherpa custom not to search nor recover bodies of Sherpa guides who have fallen. Where they fall become their official gravesites.

Also, it should be noted that some years back, challenges on Everest being the tallest were made, naming the neighboring peak succinctly named K-2 as the tallest. But as of late, with better measuring instruments, Everest has once again become the undisputed tallest mountain in the world.

John in Newstand writes that another Pinoy has claimed top honors climbing from the North Face. Claim is being verified.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Oracion et al!



On an entirely different note:

MLQ3 and fellow commenters,

Here is a European news item which might be of interest to you (I’ve sort of summarized and translated it) and it is in my blog.

Dateline Brussels, European Union

EU freezes assets of Belarus president

LEMONDE.FR 18.05.06 18h25 • Mis à jour le 18.05.06 18h49,1-0@2-3214,36-773557@51-766079,0.html

In an unprecedented move, the 25 member nations of the European Union decided on Thursday 18th May to freeze the assets of President Alexandre Loukachenko and 35 other officials of the government of Belarus following a who were convicted of violating international election norms and for clamping down on political opposition reports Le Monde (with reports from AFP and Reuters).

According to the French broadsheet, the European Union had already banned some Belarus officials from obtaining entry visas to the EU and had also warned that other sanctions would be imposed.

Brussels, the seat of the European Union, which announced the move, had been expecting the decision since early this week.

The decision was made through a press release published by the Council of Ministers of the EU.

The sanctions will include the freezing of assets and all other financial resources of the people who were found guilty of violating international election norms, civil society rights including and acts of illegal repression on democratic opposition during the elections of March 19, 2006.

Alexandre Louchanco was elected to the Belarus presidency with 83% of the votes cast by the citizens of Belarus in an election contest which the European Organization for Security and Cooperation found did not duly conform to democratic election norms.

Belarus which used to be a member of the former USSR, clamped down on legal oppositon by arresting and jailing demonstrators for “hooliganism” or “rallying without permit”.

The report added that one of the former presidential candidates, Alexander Kozouline who was also the leader of the opposition was accused of “hooliganism”and “public disorder” and risks 7 years of imprisonment. Opposition leader, Alexander Milinkevitch was also arrested on April 27 for organizing a rally without a permit but was released a week ago.

NOTE: This united action by an international political body against an abusive regime (like Gloria’s) should serve as reminder to repressive regimes that they cannot clamp down on legitimate dissent!!!! All it takes is for the EU’s Organization for Security and Cooperation to be requested by an NGO to come and observe the “clamp down on legitimate dissent”…So, Gloria, Gonzalez and Defensor had better watch out!!!!

Rizalist said...

Interesting development HB. Still looking into it myself, but it would seem ASEAN has many problems similar to the philippines. Let's see what the Europeans can do...

Corsarius said...

never heard of that trivia before (re tenzing norgay)! awesome. so i take it that the Nepalese 'first name' is their surname? :)

Rizalist said...

Looks like it. I was surprised to read Ambeth's revelations myself. I guess the old Nepalese mountaineer sowed his oats on lots of mountains and archipelagos...