News reports have it that the question/debate surrounding the actual height of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, has finally been resolved. It is 8,848.86 meters or 29,032 feet, the Nepali government announced a few days ago.
We remember undertaking a flight tour of Mount Everest a few years ago when we addressed a conference in Kathmandu hosted by the current Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, who, for several years, was our colleague in the Standing Committee of our International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
Climbing the world’s tallest mountain is a death-defying adventure. We remember the Filipino people rejoicing and honoring our First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition (FPMEE) which made history in 2006 by reaching Mount Everest’s summit.
As then speaker of the House, we led the chamber in passing a resolution commending the FPMEE members – the famous mountain climber Art Valdez, Leo Oracion, Pastor Emata, Romi Garduce, and Dale Abenojar.
Mount Everest is indeed God’s greatest gift to the Nepalese people, who endured more than a decade of civil war until 2006, with enormous sacrifice, loss of many innocent lives, and displacement of countless people throughout the country.
Nepal went through a complex political transition which ushered in a new era of democracy, with a new democratic constitution. It has made a three-in-one transition – from war to peace, from monarchy to a democratic republic, and from a unitary to federal system of government. Major problems remain but the three-fold Nepalese transition marks a rare achievement in Asia and in the world.
The transition process in Nepal ended the decade-long bloody conflict. Successful elections have been held since 2006, each followed by peaceful transfer of power, a widely accepted ceasefire agreement, and decrease in political violence since 2008.
In our meetings with Nepal’s political leaders as then speaker of the House and as founding chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, we commended them and the Nepalese people for creating the beginnings of a sustainable peace, inclusive democracy, political stability, and socio-economic development.
We believe that by working together, Nepal would continue its march towards a just and lasting peace and prosperity.
Nepal’s political parties are members of ICAPP, with the Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress Party, represented by former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal and former Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala, respectively, sitting in our 39-member Standing Committee.
Our old friend Nepal’s former Prime Minister Madhav Nepal is among the steadfast leaders of the enlarged ICAPP, which we founded and launched in Manila in September 2000, and today includes almost all the political parties in Asia.
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Our youngest daughter KC would have been 32 years old this year but God summoned her back into His home 16 years ago on December 16, 2004.
We have since learned to live with the pain of losing her althoughthe grief never goes away. The anguish never really stops since you feel that part of you also died.
We had earlier said that we lost our dearest mother to tuberculosis when we were nine, a few months after Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed in Dagupan City beach on Lingayen Gulf, some 250 meters from our home today. It was the same disease that claimed the life of our first president of the Philippine Commonwealth Manuel L. Quezon. We also lost our father in our twenties but no sorrow is as deep as losing your own child.
It has been said that that the natural order of things is that children bury their parents not the other way around. Indeed the passing of a loved one, especially your child, leaves a profound void in your heart.
We commiserate with the parents – and the sons and daughters – who lost a family member this year, especially since Christmas is just around the corner. Celebrating Christmas following the demise of a loved one could be truly tormenting.
Nine days before Christmas, on December 16, we will hold our annual simple remembrance of the life of our beloved daughter KC, but due to the raging coronavirus pandemic, it will be through virtual Mass and short program.