Pastor Emata at Wednesday's press conference ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY More than anything else, the homecoming was a marketing event, with Erwin Pastor Emata, the Davaoeno who recently conquered Mount Everest, the product.

It seemed that, on Wednesday, June 7, the organizers — companies who sponsored Ematas historic summeting of the worlds tallest mountain made sure that their investments in the mountain climber from Tagum were worth it.

A grand welcome was prepared for Emata at the Davao International Airport in the morning. That same day, he rode to Tagum City, his home, with a motorcade behind him. There, at the town pavilion, a program attended by government officials was held.

Back in Davao City in the evening, a press conference at Matina Town Square ‘s Kanto Bar extolled not so much Ematas feat but the benevolence of his sponsors.

The day was festive — and the logos of the sponsors were everywhere: ABS-CBN, Stratwork, Summit Water, Philippine Airlines and Med Central, to name some of them. It must have been quite an expensive trek.

Buried in all the marketing hoopla, which evidently turned crass at certain points, was Emata himself. During the press conference, every representative of every sponsor had something to say, thus taking time away from Emata, who could have shared more of his extraordinary experience. And we could tell he was eager to share.

At any rate, Emata, who, we were told, is a religious person. He waxed philosophical about the whole thing. Reaching Everest, he said, was every mountaineer’s dream. But for him, it was more it was a mission. He was out to prove something to himself and to his faith.

Climbing mountains has been a life-long passion of Emata, who was born in Makilala, North Cotabato, near the foot of Mount Apo. (He went to high school in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, and took up college in Davao City. He has a home in Tagum, the hometown of his wife, Mary Ann, a fellow mountaineer.) Thus, all this was a culmination of a passion he nurtured since he was young.

To summit Mount Everest, he said, was more than winning an Olympic gold. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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