For Davaoeo, Faith Will Conquer the Highest Peak

Apr. 19, 2006

Erwin “Pastor” Emata, quite apart from being one of the countrys best mountaineers, is also a deeply religious man. The Davaoeo will soon be among the first Filipinos to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the worlds tallest peak.

By Keith Bacongco

Erwin Emata (Photo courtesy of FPMEE)DAVAO CITY The clich that faith can move a person to climb even the highest mountain could be proven true next month. Quite literally.

Erwin “Pastor” Emata, quite apart from being one of the countrys best mountaineers, is also a deeply religious man. The Davaoeo will soon be among the first Filipinos to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the worlds tallest peak.

His faith, they said, would no doubt augur well for the mountaineer from Tagum City who, along with Leo Oracion of Cebu City, will undergo a reconnaissance climb of Mount Everest next month. Emata is a member of Marco Polo Mountaineering Club-Davao.

Mount Everest (Photo courtesy of FPMEE)He is one of the best mountaineers in the Philippines, said Dodong Realse, a veteran mountaineer and a close friend of Ematas. With his strength and experience, he told, Emata can make it to the summit.

He has faith in God. He is a very religious man, that’s why he is called pastor (preacher),” Realse said. “He leads the prayer in our climbs and even before we eat. Very religious. He is also a disciplined athlete. Never smokes or drink any liquor.”

Emata (left) and Oracion in Nepal (Photo courtesy of FPMEE)Realse, who briefly served as Emata’s manager, recounted various races that Emata won. Among those were the AXN Adventure Race in Baguio City, the Mount Apo Eco Challenge, Carera Habagat races and other extreme-adventure races in the Philippines.

Emata and Oracion, who are also respected mountaineers and veteran adventure racers in the country, are official representatives of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition (FPMEE), which is scheduled to make its first attempt to scale the 29,035 feet-Mount Everest in the summer of 2007.

The reconnaissance climb next month would be a “big test as this would give Emata and Oracion the much needed experience before leading the FPMEE in its first climb next year, said the Mindanao Forum, an umbrella organization of Mindanao-based mountaineering groups.

The two climbers are scheduled to move to the base camp of Mount Everest this week to acclimatize themselves to the thin air and cold weather and will be ready to begin their ascent when the government of Nepal opens the path to the mountains peak. Everest is located within the border shared by Nepal and India.

“They are in peak physical condition and they proved their technical climbing skills, stamina, determination and teamwork on (Mount) Muztagh-Ata. We are very confident that they will be ready for Everest,” Art Valdez, the FPMEEs expedition leader, said in a statement posted on the FPMEE website.

Mindanao-based mountaineering groups have also expressed support for the Filipino mountaineers. In a statement sent to, Mindanao Forum said it “shares its prayers and hopes to four Filipinos who will attempt to summit Mount Everest.

“Now is high time not only for fellow mountaineers but all Filipinos as well to unite and show our support, like the one we extended to other great Filipino athletes who triumphed in their respective fields,” the group said.

Aside from Emata and Oracion, two other Filipinos — Romy Garduce and Jon Jon Villareal — will also attempt to climb Everest next month.

“Finally, we ask your continued prayers and endless support to our Filipino mountaineers who risk their lives in bringing honor to the country when they stand and raise the Philippine flag in the summit of Everest,” the group said.

Rodion Palma Gil, president of Sandawa Apo Mountaineering Club Alumni Chapter, also believes that the other two climbers can make it to the summit of Mt. Everest next month.

“They’ve had enough training and given their experience, they can conquer the roof of the earth,” Palma Gil told in an interview. “Garduce’s cause is also noble, he climbs and risks his life to help the poor. He climbs for charity. Let us all hope and pray for the safety of these Filipino climbers who will bring pride and honor to our country.”

Mindanao Forum represents at least 30 montaineering groups in Mindanao. Among them are Sandawa Apo Mountainteering and Ecology Club (Davao City), Marco Polo Mountaineering Club (Davao City), Mountaineering Outdoors and Nature Conservation Society (Davao City), Climbers Association in Response to Ecology ( Iligan City), CapTrek ( Cagayan De Oro City), Dipolog mountaineers, Mercy mountaineers ( Oroqueta City), Mindanao State University Mountaineering Society (Iligan City), SAK-A Cabadbaran ( Agusan del norte) , Society of Active Volunteers & Explorers ( Iligan City) De Oro Mountaineers & Explorers (Cagayan De Oro City), Xavier University – Ateneo Mountaineering Society (Cagayan De Oro City), and Kaplag ( Gingoog City). (Keith Bacongco/

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