By Betheena Unite
Optimism was Carina Dayondon’s best hiking gear to be the first Filipina to complete the seven highest peaks in the world.
Her colleague Ensign Dorris Villegas from the Philippine Coast Guard can attest to this, saying Dayondon maintained a positive outlook in all her climbs through the years.
“Carina is always humble but lagi positive ang outlook. Very excited siya sa last climb niya and hindi kakitaan ng pagkapagod (Carina is always humble and always positive. She’s very excited with her last climb and she never looked like she’s tired),” Villegas told The Manila Bulletin.
Villegas, who was then a six-year personnel of the Coast Guard, met Dayondon in August 2011 during their training to be an officer. Dayondon is now a lieutenant.
“She is one of the oldest female members in our class but she is the strongest, physically,” said Villegas, who had witnessed all of Dayondon’s last five summit ascends to complete the record.
A day before Dayondon started scaling Vinson Massif, a 4892-meters above sea level (masl) mountain in Antartica to complete the seven summits, Villegas said she was constantly hoping for a good weather.
“Our last chat was on December 6, a day before her flight to Antartica. She said she dropped by at my office before leaving, however, I was not able to see her because I was on a meeting that time,” Villegas shared.
“She also told me the following day upon her arrival thereat, that they are about to climb the mountain and she is hoping for a good weather,” she added.
Few months before Dayondon left for Antartica, she would always ask for prayers to finish the climb. She would always tell her colleagues that “she will do her best to complete the journey.”
She was so focused that giving up never crossed her mind, Villegas said.
Throughout her journey, which started from 2006, she never thought of giving up even with the lack of fund to finance the rare mountain journey.
“All of her climbs were hard but I think one of the most challenging is her climb to Everest,” Villegas said.
Dayondon was one of the three women who have successfully completed the Mt. Everest traverse in 2007. She completed the team with Noelle Wenceslao and Janet Belarmino, who were also members of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Coast Guard prepared her physically
Dayondon’s seven summit journey started from Denali (6,190 masl) in North America in 2006 to Mt. Everest (8,850 masl) in Asia in 2007, Elbrus (5,642 masl) in Europe in 2013, Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 masl) in Australia in 2014, Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895 masl) in Africa in 2015, to Mt. Aconcagua (6,962 masl) in South America and Vinson Massif (4,892 masl) in Antarctica this year.
In this journey, Villegas said her Philippine Coast Guard training helped her a lot, physically.
“Siguro ‘yung training namin sa PCG, nakadagdag ‘yun sa physical strength development niya (I think our training in PCG helped to boost her physical strength development). And also, perseverance and stability to work under pressure in any condition or situation,” Villegas said.
Aside from strength development, the organization was always behind Dayondon to give her moral support.
“Our class has always believed in Carina. Aside from moral support and prayers, we are always there to assist her to process paper works with regard to her leave, travel orders, and other requirements,” Villegas added.
All for PH’s honor
The dream itself — to be among the few mountaineers to complete the seven summits — is Dayondon’s biggest motivation, according to Villegas.
“She has this attitude na when she dreams for something, she works hard for it,” she said.
To give honor to the country and raise the flag, to empower women comes next.
“She wanted to prove that even with limited resources like sponsors and others, she will do her best to show her love for the country, para maitaas pa ‘yung pagkilala ng ibang bansa, particularly sa mga kababaihan ng Pilipinas (to further promote the country particularly the women of the Philippines),” Villegas said.
Before Dayondon even completed the seven summits, she has already served as an inspiration to the Coast Guard community, according to Capt. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson.
“Carina is an inspiration for the junior officers. Her qualities in preparing for the climb like focus, discipline, dedication and hard work, is worthy of emulation,” Balilo said.
Back in 2011, Dayondon decided to train to be an officer.
“Gusto niya talagang maging officer kaya nag-training siya (She really wanted to be an officer so she undergone training),” said Balilo, who was Dayondon’s superior then, said.
Currently, Dayondon is assigned at the Education and Training Command in the PCG. She was also a tactical officer of different Coast Guard officers’ classes.
From mountain to sea expedition
A natural adventurer, Dayondon also joined sea expeditions in the past. Her recent sea journey was with the Balangay voyage to China early this year.
She was one of the crew members of the Philippine Balangay Expedition team who sailed onboard three 18-meter wooden pre-Hispanic designed vessels in a 22-day expedition to China.
Dayondon also joined the same expedition back in 2011.
According to Villegas, Dayondon never talked to her about what’s next after completing the seven summits as she has yet to talk to her since she descended Mt. Vinson because she was “so focused on finishing the seven summits.”
But according to Balilo, the PCG will organize a homecoming celebration for the first Filipina seven-summit conqueror.