TEN YEARS ago, when they were not even in their teens, Jemima and Yuji Faminialagao hiked up Mt. Makiling with their entire family.
Now, Jemima, 20, and Yuji, 18, are preparing to summit the highest mountain in the world: Mt. Everest.
"Isa sa mga goal ko na makaakyat yung highest [mountain] sa world, pero di ko in-expect na ngayon mangyayari," Jemima said in an interview with Alan Richie Javier of NBM Online TV. She said that they expect to already be in the base camp by March.
Climbing season in Everest is from April to May. It will take around two months to push to the summit and back.
The brother and sister team have been preparing in earnest over the past few years.
They began their international training in Mt. Fuji, in Japan, then went straight to Nepal for a trek around the Annapurna mountain range. This was followed with Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, where they celebrated Christmas back in 2018; Aoraki or Mt. Cook in New Zealand, where they practiced advanced techniques in icy terrain, including self-rescue; and, most recently, Nepal's Himlung Himal, one of the most remote destinations on the planet.
Their family, who are all avid mountain climbers, have been obsessively documenting their journeys in a Facebook page. Job, their father, is the founder of Sandugo Sandals, while their mother, Anna Liza, founded outdoor retailer BaseKamp. Both companies are sponsoring the expedition.
The soft-spoken Yuji became the impetus for the training.
"Nakita po [ng parents namin] ang lakas ni Yuji sa mga trail po," narrated Jemima in NBM Online TV. "Pag umaakyat kami ng major climbs, siya lagi ang ahead. Siya po ang pinakamalakas at pinakamabilis. So parang naisip po ni Papa na, what if kaya umakyat si Yuji ng Everest?" She would then accompany him in the expedition.
For his part, Yuji feels very much at home in the mountains. “What inspires me to go mountain climbing is the cold clean air, being in nature, joining the socials, and its physical aspects. I like listening to people’s stories, relaxing, laughing at drunken goofiness, and sitting by a light source surrounded by nature,” he told Marian Chriselle Galvan of The Uphill Press.
Leo Oracion is recognized as the first Filipino climber to summit Mt. Everest. He accomplished the feat on May 18, 2006.