Carina Dayondon, 28, born and raised in this agricultural town in southern Bukidnon, she who dreamt of becoming a computer engineer someday, reached the peak of Mt. Everest on May 20 at 6:20 a.m. Nepal time (8:20 a.m. in Manila), ten minutes after Noelle Wenceslao, 27, reached the peak. The third team member, Janet Belarmino, 28, reached the summit three hours later. Wenceslao and Belarmino are both from Luzon.
Philippine team leader Art Valdez said Carina, Noelle and Janet set two world records in Everest history as the first Filipinas and first ASEAN women to reach the summit 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 Kaya ng Pinay blog (pinaysoneverest.blogspot.com) said.
The Filipinas’ feat followed that of three Filipino climbers, Leo Oracion, Pastour Emata and Romy Garduce, who reached the summit through the southeast side around the same time last year.
Emata, a Mindanawon from Davao del Norte who was at the Advance Base Camp when fellow Mindanawon Carina sang “Kaya ng Pinay,” radioed her back to say he’d bet she was singing because she was scared. Carina’s answer? “Excuse me?”
Like Carina, Emata was also the lone Mindanawon in the team and was also second in the team of three Filipinos, to reach the peak on May 18 last year. Carina reached the summit on May 20.
In two years, two Mindanawons had reached the peak.
Her family here and friends at the Xavier University-Ateneo Mountaineering Society (XU-AMS) in Cagayan de Oro City where she took up Bachelor of Science in Business Management, are proud of her achievement but they cannot talk about her, citing an alleged media gag.
Gabriel Dayondon, Carina's father, told MindaNews Tuesday that ABS-CBN, one of the major sponsors of the Mt. Everest climbing expedition, has exclusive rights over the coverage of his daughter's feat and biography.
The elder Dayondon said they respected the agreement his daughter made with the media network and appealed for understanding.
But ABS-CBN’s Chari Villa, head of the News Gathering Group, told MindaNews no such restriction or exclusivity contract has been made.
“Maybe that’s just their (her family’s) interpretation but certainly we cannot stop other media from reporting news, “ she said.
Villa also said the Lopez family, owners of the television network, had made an earlier commitment to help the Everest expedition financially but this did not mean exclusivity over the story.
“There is no such restriction,” she stressed.
Fellow Bukidnons are obviously proud of her success.
A bus passenger from Maramag, the town next to Don Carlos, told MindaNews the young athlete “seems to be a very disciplined and determined young woman. Even if I'm a man, I don't think I can do what she achieved.”
"I am proud of her. Imagine, someone from Bukidnon makes it good around the world," said Manang Alicia, 46, who lives in a suburban barangay in Don Carlos.
Motorcab drivers in the town's bus terminal gave MindaNews directions to her house. "Katong sikat nga babae nga climber, sir?" the driver asked. (Are you referring to the popular lady mountain climber?)
Carina’s first climb was Bukidnon's Mt. Kitanglad in 1995, a colleague from the XU-AMS said.
Carina, daughter of retired bankers, is the fourth of 14 siblings. Her mom now tends to their home-based lodging service while her father works at the Don Carlos Municipal Agriculture Office.
Carina studied at the Don Carlos Central Elementary School here and at the San Isidro College High School in Malaybalay City, Batch 1995.
In her yearbook entry, Carina said she hoped to be a computer engineer. She was a class auditor and Filipino editor of their high school publication.
She was a member of the school's Booklovers' Club and was a platoon leader in the Citizens' Army Training.