30 March 2009

the closest I could get to Mt. Everest

Two weeks ago, I was in a certain international school along with my colleagues in the fundraising team. Students from this lovely, socially aware school decided to pool some of their money to raise funds for UNICEF's program for children living in war-torn areas like Mindanao.

My teammates and I were there to accept the cheque (an amazing Php 53,000!!!) and to make a short presentation to the 7th and 8th graders on UNICEF's work in the Philippines. So we were setting up our laptop and such, and the school coordinator then informs us that we're the first in the program. Okay. Didn't realize it was going to be a major show-and-tell thing pala.

Apparently, we were the front act, and Carina Dayondon was the main show. My jaw literally dropped when her name was announced by one of the school coordinators. Oh. My. God.

Carina Dayondon is the second Filipino woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest and one of the first ASEAN women to get to the peak. She is AMAZING and INSPIRING, and I was only a few meters away from her. I was practically hyperventilating, like I was in Mt. Everest myself.

When they called out Carina's name, she stood up. But before she faced the clapping, enthusiastic crowd of students, she headed over to me and my teammates. Carina reached out to shake my hand and said very earnestly, "Thank you. Thank you so much for helping the Filipino children. It's an honor to meet you."

I was just too starstruck, and I only managed to croak out, "Um, um, it's an honor to meet you." My brain was still busy processing the fact that I had just shaken hands with the woman who scaled Mt. Everest. And she looked so cool, dressed in her North Face expedition gear which she wore in Everest. Talk about a real, mind-blowing show-and-tell.

I mean, the kids probably liked our little presentation (and there is undoubtedly a coolness factor in working for UNICEF and for the world's most vulnerable, disadvantaged children), but you could tell from all the loud clapping that Carina was really the star attraction of that general assembly. Couldn't blame the students. To me, Carina Dayondon was way up there in the coolness category. I didn't even have the right to complain about the torture of 10K runs when I was in the presence of someone who had climbed some 8,800 meters up the world's tallest mountain.

I wanted to stay and watch her entire presentation, but we had to leave (arrgggghhhhh). Thank God Love managed to take a photo of Carina sitting on a chair, waiting for her turn to present.

Oh my God, I am still starstruck.


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