MANILA, MAY 22, 2006 (STAR) By Joey Villar - If he can prove his claim right, mystery climber Dale Abenojar could be the first Filipino on top of Mt. Everest.

Liza Abenojar claimed in a press statement that her husband Dale made it to the peak of the 29,035-foot (8,850 meters) peak, the world’s tallest, last Monday, or days ahead of Heracleo "Leo" Oracion, Erwin "Pastor" Emata and Romeo "Romi" Garduce.

She said Abenojar reached the summit at 8 a.m. (10 a.m. in Manila) Monday via the North Col route despite harsher weather conditions compared to the more popular South Col, the trail used by Everest pioneers Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal in 1953.

Abenojar, whose claim to fame was when he became the first to reach the peak of Mount Pinatubo using a Land Rover, reportedly returned to base camp at 9 p.m. (Tibet time) three days later.

"Dale Abenojar is one of the four Filipino climbers on Mt. Everest. But unlike the others, he climbed independently and without any sponsors or network backing him up. He left last April 1 with meager resources," said Liza Abenojar in a statement.

Liza said climbing Everest, or Chomolungma in Tibetan language meaning mother goddess of the universe, is her hubby’s lifelong dream.

In fact, Abenojar was the first Filipino to publicly announce his intent on climbing it way back in 1994, or exactly a decade before the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition team headed by Oracion and Emata launched its ambitious campaign.

"But it’s not important at this point who was the ‘first’ on Mt. Everest as all four Filipino summiteers are equally deserving of honor and admiration. It showcases the Filipinos’ will, skill and determination to achieve greater things.

"All four of them dreamed and pursued it — and each has his own genuine spirit and inspiring character," she said.

But unlike Oracion, Emata and Garduce, Abenojar’s claim of reaching Everest’s summit was undocumented.

Officially, Oracion reached Mt. Everest at 3 p.m. (Nepal time) Wednesday, Emata on Thursday morning and Garduce the day after.

Both Oracion and Emata were climbers from ABS-CBN while Garduce from rival GMA 7.

PBA:  Air21 maims crippled Ginebra The Philippine Star 05/21/2006

MANDAUE – Air21 pounced on a badly-depleted Barangay Ginebra side, hacking out a 107-100 victory to keep its flickering hopes for a playoff crack at an outright quarterfinals berth in the Gran Matador Brandy PBA Philippine Cup at the Mandaue Sports Center here last night.

The Express charged out strong from the halftime break and dominated the Kings throughout the final half for a second straight victory that improved their record to 6-9 (win-loss).

It was Air21’s first back-to-back wins in the tournament, curiously coming after trading former top gun Renren Ritualo to Talk n Text.

The Express, however, have to win their last game against the San Miguel Beermen Wednesday and hope the Kings (6-8) and the Coca-Cola Tigers (7-7) lose all their remaining games to gain a playoff crack at an outright seat in the quarters.

Red Bull (8-6) and Alaska Milk (8-7) assured themselves of a playoff on Ginebra’s defeat — the fifth in the Kings’ last seven outings.

With the suspended Mark Caguioa left in Manila together with injured teammates Romel Adducul, Rodney Santos and Andy Seigle, the Kings could put up a good challenge only in the first half which ended at 48-47 in favor of the Express.

The Express pressed their bid in the third quarter, building an 84-69 margin going into the fourth period and hanging tough to the finish.

Playing tough on both ends of the court, the Express repeated over the Kings whom they dealt a 109-98 loss in their first meeting last March 24.

Air21 actually took control right in the opening period but Ginebra got its game going in the second period. The Kings even enjoyed the lead at 47-45 in the closing seconds of the first half.

Meanwhile, the PBA revisits the Philsports Arena in Pasig today with Red Bull seeking a sixth straight win and an outright seat in the quarters versus Coca-Cola.

Purefoods and Sta. Lucia clash in a non-bearing tiff in the 4:10 p.m. curtain-raiser since the Chunkee Giants have already assured themselves of automatic entry into semifinals while the Realtors have been relegated to the wildcard round. Today’s double-header marks the first time in over a year that the PBA holds a game at the Philsports Arena.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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