Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pinays On The Summit

Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team with their Sherpas at Camp 2 Tibet side.

Noelle Wenceslao on the summit with Mt. Makalu in the background.

Noelle with Philippine flag.

Carina Dayondon on the summit.

Carina with a big smile on the summit.

Carina with High Altitude Guide Lakhpa Geljen Sherpa.

Janet Belarmino posing with another climber and High Altitude Guide Pasang Nuru Sherpa.

Janet with the Philippine Flag.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sun Star Cebu: A Wenceslao Atop Mt. Everest

reprinted from Sun Star Cebu

Friday, May 18, 2007
Wenceslao: A Wenceslao atop Mt. Everest

By Bong O. Wenceslao
Candid Thoughts

THE more popular Wenceslao when we were younger was director Jose "Pepe" Wenceslao. We didn't know who this man was and whether or not Wenceslao was but his showbiz name. But we joked about him often, especially because a cousin was called Pepe. In Tudela, Camotes meanwhile, Wenceslao, to some relatives was "Big W."

There's a certain pride in seeing one's family name linked to big achievements, more so with Wenceslao. No problem with my mother's maiden name Ortega, which is Spanish-sounding and common. But Wenceslao? That's why I would have wanted my cousin, long-time Sambag 2 Barangay Captain Noel Wenceslao to become city councilor.

I remember asking my father Tiyong what our relation was with the Wenceslaos of Santander. That was when the Abineses still ruled Santander town's politics and the Wenceslaos were content merely doing business there.

My father told me the Wenceslao patriarch was Chinese and only borrowed the family name Wenceslao. What a choice.

I am talking Wenceslao because a Wenceslao was one of three Filipinas who reached the Mt. Everest peak Wednesday morning. Noelle Wenceslao, Karina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino will now be referred to as the "first women of Southeast Asia to summit Mt. Everest." Did Noelle plant a flag with the Wenceslao name at the summit?

I actually don't know who Noelle is. My father is dead and the other Wenceslao elders are either in Mindanao or in Camotes. And I am no expert in tracing the family tree. I once jogged around the new Talisay City Hall and a policeman there introduced himself as a Wenceslao. He was from Luzon. Another Wenceslao is a politician in Leyte.

An Inquirer report said Noelle's father is Peewee Wenceslao. Don't know him, but that "Peewee" name sounds interesting. A controversial Metro Manila mayor is nicknamed Peewee. His first name? Wenceslao. I said first name, not family name. So is Peewee Wenceslao actually Wenceslao Wenceslao. Oops, that's the name of my brother.

Anyway, drama was not absent in Noelle's feat. Reports say she earlier suffered from AMS or acute mountain sickness and expedition team doctor Ted Esguerra had to take care of her every step of the way. What courage.

But that is what mountain climbing is all about, you don't just give up. You push the limits of your endurance to make it.

It's unfortunate that Wenceslao, Dayondon and Belarmino reached the summit of Mt. Everest at a time when this country is holding a political exercise whose practice we can never be proud of. And because we tend to gloss over real achievement for scandals and controversies (which incidentally our elections have a lot of), the feat got buried.

Of course, we have heard of people downplaying the achievement of reaching Mt. Everest's summit. The argument is that the climb is no longer challenging, like what Mt. Manunggal has become with a road traversing its peak. These critics are no trekkers. They are ignorant of the dangers posed by Mt. Everest, especially to those Pinays.

Between the three Pinays who reached Mt. Everest's summit and most winners in the last polls, I would pay homage to the former. Those Pinays showed us what the Filipinos can achieve, while many politicians can only show us how deep we can plunge into the muck. Besides, a Wenceslao atop Mt. Everest? Come on.

( 0915-9228651/my blog:

Senate President Villar Commends Team

May 17, 2007


Senate President Manny Villar filed Senate Resolution No. 629 commending the three women of the “Kaya ng Pinay” Everest Team for their historic feat of being the first ASEAN women to reach the Mount Everest summit.

The first Filipina to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain was Noelle Wenceslao, followed by Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino.

Villar said, “We celebrate and take pride in the audacity of our women who have conquered Mount Everest, marking another milestone in our accomplishments as a nation and race.”

“This feat clearly demonstrates the outstanding skill and strength of our Filipino women in the face of the fiercest adversities as they reach their goal. Likewise, it upholds the importance of women empowerment in our country,” he said.

“We congratulate Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino and the entire “Kaya ng Pinay” Everest Team for this record-setting achievement which elevates the distinct qualities of the women of our country,” said Villar.

Sen. Pangilinan Lauds Kaya Ng Pinay Everest Team

May 16, 2007


Senate Majority Leader and Independent re-electionist Kiko Pangilinan commended the achievement of Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino for being the first ASEAN women to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

"I laud the efforts of the Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team in marking another glorious record for the Filipino people, for all Pinays and for all member countries of the ASEAN region," expressed Kiko.

"Lahat ng Pilipino ay humahanga at ipinagmamalaki ang kabayanihan ng tatlong dakilang Pilipina na nakaabot sa tuktok ng mundo. Ikinalulugod nating lahat ang kanilang nagawa at nagpapasalamat sa kanilang kabayanihan para sa sambayanang Pilipino," stressed Kiko.

"When the Philippine Senate resumes its session on June 4, I plan to file a resolution commending their bravery, will and resilience for victoriously making another historical record for our country and for the ASEAN region, as reaching the top of the world is no small feat," ended Kiko.

The Kathmandu Post: Mom of 5-month-old atop Everest

reprinted from The Kathmandu Post

Mom of 5-month-old atop Everest


KATHMANDU, May 24 - Just three months after giving birth to her first child she set off to scale Mt Everest. Five months later and yet to fully recover from childbearing, Janet Belarmino, 28, has already conquered the world's highest mountain.

Not only did she emerge triumphant from her mission, she along with other two Filipinas-- Noelle Wenceslao, and Carina Dayondon-- set a record in Everest history last Wednesday, becoming the first ever women to cross over the peak of Mt Everest. They made it to the top from the north side and descended from the south.

Besides, the three Filipinas also set the record as the first Southeast Asian women to conquer the world's highest peak.

"It was an awesome experience. I got an immense amount of pleasure," said a visibly elated Belarmino on arrival at the capital.

Commenting on the ordeal of leaving her small son at home with her husband, she said it was emotionally a very difficult time, having to miss her baby.

"I decided to leave him, as I was too focused on the mountain. I believed there was a greater cause behind my decision," she said. She said determination, unity and team work were what made her succeed in her endeavor.

Crossing the mountain from Tibet to Nepal has been done only by a handful of mountaineers. The traverse posed a bigger challenge for the women as they passed an unfamiliar route during the descent. The other two Filipino women also could not hide their excitement. "Definitely, the climbing was tough. But getting success is an enthralling experience," said Wenceslao.

When asked how it felt while tackling the ascent, Dayondon said they were mentally and physically prepared to climb the tallest peak. "We have great respect for mountains. So, we believed that the mountain would allow us to climb it as well," she said.

Prior to her attempt this season, Belarmino had received mountaineering training in Nepal since 2004. She had climbed a few mountains, below 8,000 meters, like (Island) Peak.

She was so much enamored with mountains that she named her five-month old baby Himalaya. "Himalaya is deep-rooted in my mind. So I chose this name for my son," said she.

Sharing her experience, she said the journey was physically challenging. "We are not super-women. All we had was strong determination, and motivation," she said. She said the three years training helped in her success.

Over 200 climbers have reached the world's highest peak this spring season from the south col. The month of May is the best season for climbing. A total of 23 climbing expeditions are expecting to scale Mt Everest this season.

Hello from Noelle

Hello! We're back in Katmandu. I'll write more next time, ha, because I haven't quite gained back my original vocabulary.

I just want to take this chance na magpasalamat sa sambayanang Pilipino for all their prayers and support. Para sa inyo 'to! We ALL did it together.

We're all okay -- no damage whatsoever. We killed a few million brain cells, but we don't use those anyway.

Next time mas mahaba ang kuwento ko. Kitakits sa Pinas!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Press Conference in Kathmandu

The Kaya ng Pinay Everest Team had a press conference at Hotel Marshyangdi today to formally announce the women's achievement of traversing Mt. Everest from Tibet to Nepal.

Climbers Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino faced the media together with Expedition Leader Art Valdez, Mr. Sonam Sherpa of Thamserku Trekking and Mr. Henry Pariyar of International Adventure Treks and Expeditions.

Members of the Kathmandu Press asked the climbers what they saw on top of the world's highest mountain and what they were thinking about when they were on the summit.

Noelle with Tibet Base Camp Cook Gokul

We're hoping the girls will answer those questions and recount their experiences when they blog here tomorrow. We also hope to post some summit pictures of the girls soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Team Back In Kathmandu

The Pinay Everest Team is Back in Kathmandu. The flights from Lukla to the capital yesterday left later than usual because the weather wasn't so good, so the team arrived at about 2 in the afternoon.

The team was welcomed at the hotel by Mr Sonam Sherpa of Thamserku Trekking Agency. After a welcome ceremony at the hotel, they were brought to the residence of Mr. Baija, the Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Nepal, for an early dinner.

Then.. more (Filipino) food after that at another dinner hosted by Henry and emma Pariyar of International Adventure Treks and Expeditions with the Filipino community.

Early this morning, the women were already busy sorting their gear for their trip home. They are scheduled to arrive in Manila on May 31st.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 Everest Traverses


David Tait and Phurba Sherpa reached the summit on May 15 from Tibet, and traversed down to Nepal, reaching C2 that same day. Tait has decided not to retrace his steps back to the summit and down the north side. “There might be some supermen in this world, but I discovered that I am frankly not one of them,” he wrote on Friday.

All three Filipinas of the Pinay Mount Everest Expedition Team reached the summit on Wednesday from Tibet, and descended down the Nepal side. No female climber had traversed Everest before.

Gavin Bate hoped to attempt the summit of Everest from Tibet on Saturday and descend via Nepal.

Sunday, May 20, 2007 Filipinas reach Nepal base camp, set world record

reprinted from

The first Filipino women to reach the summit of Mount Everest set another world record Friday by becoming the first women to traverse the two main routes to the world's highest mountain.

Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino reached Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal before 6 p.m. Manila time where they were welcomed by the Philippine support group.

Belarmino sobbed as she recounted the ordeal of climbing the mountain months after she gave birth to her first baby.

"Napakahirap kaya masaya ako na makakabalik na kami…. medyo pagod lang kasi mahaba ang trek namin pero OK lang kami. [Wala kaming] sakit. Wala namang problema (It was very difficult that is why I'm glad that we can now come back… it was tiring because the trail was quite long but we’re OK. We are not sick. There have been no problems)," she told radio DZMM.

Belarmino said that her feat also showed that motherhood does not prevent anyone from pursuing her dreams.

"Iyon din mensahe ko sa mga ina na tulad ko. Ang mga pangarap namin ay hindi natutulog sa apat na sulok ng kwarto. Iyong mga panaginip natin bilang ina, kailangan natin ipakita sa buong mundo na kaya din natin (It's also my message to mothers like me. Our dreams are not confined in four corners of the room. Let’s show the whole world that we can also do it)," she added.

For Dayondon, the support of fellow Filipinos inspired them even more to reach the top of the world’s tallest mountain. She added that she missed her family back in the Philippines but the other climbers and the support of the Filipinos there helped her.

Team leader Art Valdez said the three set two world records in Everest history. They are the first Filipinas and first ASEAN women to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the first women to cross the mountain from the north route in Tibet to the south route in Nepal.

Crossing the mountain from Tibet to Nepal has only been done by a handful of mountaineers – all of them men. The traverse posed a bigger challenge for the women as they passed an unfamiliar route to come down the mountain.

ABS-CBN Correspondent Abner Mercado said the Everest team will rest at EBC before they proceed to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Wenceslao was the first to reach the summit at 6:10 a.m. Nepal time (8:10 a.m. in Manila) on Wednesday followed by Carina Dayondon at 6:20 a.m. (8:20 a.m. in Manila). Belarmino reached the summit three hours later after she had to fall in line because a lot of people wanted to reach the summit.

First scaled in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the 29,035-foot peak has now been summitted 3,067 times.

This year, around 550 people will be attempting the peak from both Nepal - where a peace deal signed last year with Maoist rebels has brought an end to a decade of civil war - and via the northern flank in China.

In 2006, 11 people were killed, and already this year one sherpa has died while preparing for commercial expeditions.