the recent triumphs of filipinos leo oracion, pastor emata, and romi garduce at mt. everest have sparked renewed interest in the sport that is mountaineering. the interest is one of admiration and celebration, rather than disdain and suspicion -- there have been few deaths in this country's mountains alone, but the handful of casualties have cast a long shadow of doubt on the countless safe returns. and as someone who's been identified as a "mountaineer" -- a term i've often refused, prefering instead outdoorsman -- i've often been bombarded with questions like am i friends with any of the three, is it really hard to engage in mountaineering, so what happens when i reach the summit of a mountain, what the hell am i getting from all these hardships, am i not afraid of dying, and of course, when am i climbing everest. the last question is something which i find most funny and amusing. i have no plans of summitting everest -- which is not to belittle the achievement of these lionized "heroes". certainly not. i have not set my eyes on everest because it is not in tune with my personal reasons for going outdoors. and much more than that, i think the question precisely begs disbelief, and effectively dilutes what the three have accomplished. to be asked that question almost means that everest is just in my backyard, and one very randomly decides to climb it with nary a care for the physical, mental and financial demands required to climb it, not to mention that it is also a logistical show of nightmarish proportions. i am younger than all of the new everest summiteers, but i cannot just decide to pack my bag and proceed to everest basecamp to "acclimatize". i cannot now belatedly prepare for a journey of this magnitude. unknown to many -- or perhaps, many of us just pay little attention -- prior to everest, all of these guys have had to undergo the most rigid of trainings: actual climbs in alpine conditions at other death zones around the world. i celebrate with all these three. i try no more to think about the skepticism that's surrounded the "race" since its launch -- although, one must confess, the controversy over who would get there first (or die in the trying) has made these personal journeys even more interesting. it is no longer important who among them reached the summit first, but that in the last 3 days, there have been 3 filipinos proudly waving the philippine flag on the roof of the world. thank you, leo, pastor, romi. you've taught many of us the infinite power of dreams.