He dreamt. We conquered.

By: Angelo G. Garcia

Date: December 13, 2009

From: Manila Bulletin

ON May 17, 2006 at 3:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. in Manila) Leo Oracion reached the summit of Mt. Everest.

“The Philippine Eagle has landed on the summit of Mt. Everest,” recalls Art Valdez, expedition leader of the Philippine Mt. Everest team, as being the first radio message Oracion made upon reaching the top.

“That was the day when finally, Filipinos have reached the summit of Mt. Everest,” Valdez relates.

The next day, Pastour Emata also reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain. Like the first moon landing, when Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. Set foot on the moon, Oracion, Emata and another climber Romi Garduce conquered the seemingly impossible. Whereas it was just a dream to see Filipinos reaching the apex of the Everest, three Pinoys actually did!

One dreamer relives the Filipinos’ days of glory and brings back pride to all of us...of the inspirational quotes highlighted in the book.

The book is also filled with passages from the team that tell about the danger of the expedition, for instance: “The unacclimatized person could pass out in about 30 minutes and die roughly within an hour from lack of oxygen.”

The book also tells the story of the 29,035-foot mountain and its rich history and how this big beauty can also be deadly. The book traces back the historical climb of notable mountaineers like George Leigh Mallory, who is 1922 was one of two English mountaineers who attempted to reach the summit but unfortunately died. This was the first ever reported death on the summit.


The book is a testament to the Filipino’s will to succeed, a story that hopes to inspire young Filipinos to keep on with their dreams, and above all, to instill anew their sense of patriotism and love of country. The book is out in the market now and proceeds will help fund Valdez’ next epic journey.


All these started from a dream of Valdez, former Undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and president of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc. It was in 1985 when Valdez tried to organize an all-Filipino expedition to Mt. Everest but it was only in 2003, or 18 years later, that he formally formed the team.

Valdez relives this historical expedition through the book “Live the Dream: The Saga of the Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition Team.”

“It was a way of inspiring the young that if they believe in themselves, and work together as people, they can reach the greatest of heights like Mt. Everest. It is a simple symbol of what we can do, if we believe in ourselves and work together as a people,” Valdez proudly says.


“Live the Dream” tells the story of Valdez’s quest to make the once impossible possible. The book covers Valdez and the team’s adventure, from the training to detailed accounts of the team’s climb up the mountain. The 130-page book is narrated through Valdez’s and the team’s experiences and vividly illustrates the adventure through breathtaking photographs from the expedition.

“Climbing a mountain, whether big or small, brings out the inherent greatness and dignity that is in every man,” goes one.

“In this times, we need to extol the Filipino virtues, go back to our roots and show to the world na Kaya ng Pinoy! We can plant to achieve this through the ‘Voyage of Balangay’ just like we did in Mt. Everest,” Valdez explains.

The Voyage of Balangay aims to rebuild the balangay or the “Butuan boat,” an ancient vessel that was found in Agusan del Norte. Radiocarbon dated A.D. 320, the balangay was used by early Filipino seafarers for maritime trade and migration from mainland Asia to nearby islands.

“By tracing the migration of our ancestors, it will show that we are a maritime people and will rekindle our maritime consciousness that we are great, world-class ship builders and seafarers,” Valdez says.

The authentic balangay will be crafted by a group of Badjaos who are considered master boat builders from the islands of Sibutu and Sitangkay in Tawi-Tawi. The Badjaos are said to have excellent traditional shipbuilding skills handed down through generations.

The four-year voyage is set to sail next year with a route covering the whole country. In 2010, the team will sail out and go around Southeast Asia. In 2011 the boat will be en route to Micronesia and Madagascar, and in 2012 the voyage is set to sail across the Pacific onward to Atlantic, all the way around the world. The team will do this using traditional navigation methods.