MANILA, July 13, 2006 (STAR) By Joey Villar - From the highest peak in the world, the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition team proceeded to North America to scale Denali, the coldest mountain on Earth, and add it to the list of peaks conquered by the intrepid Filipino climbers.

A few weeks after Leo Oracion and Pastor Emata reached the summit of Mount Everest, the team of Reggie Pablo, Carina Dayondon, Noel Wenceslao and Larry Honoridez left the country for Alaska to climb Denali, which meant "The Great One" in local language.

And Pablo’s team successfully conquered it despite harsh weather conditions, shortage of food and the absence of expensive porters and guides.

"The weather was really bad from start till the end of our expedition and we didn’t get guides and porters so it took us more than a month to successfully reach the summit," said Pablo in yesterday’s press conference at the National Sports Grill in Greenbelt 3.

After Denali, the tallest peak in North America at 20,320 feet (6,194 meters), the team is targeting Mt. Cho Oyu next.

Located in Nepal, Mt. Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world at 26,906 feet (8,201 meters).

Romeo Garduce, the third Filipino to summit Everest, made it to the peak of Mt. Cho Oyu first late last year.

Expedition leader Art Valdez said these climbs are being done in preparation for the 2007 Unity Climb where the team will attempt to climb Everest from both the North Col (Tibet) and South Col (Nepal) routes at the same time.

"These expeditions are just part of our preparation and training for our Unity Climb next year," said Valdez.

Denali, which is notorious for its crevasses and low temperature usually reaching -1 Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), can be climbed from 18-21 days but due to the cold weather, the team completed their expedition in 36 days.

"Our food supply was for 18-21 days only, but thanks to other expedition teams that were friendly to us, we managed to live through it," recounted Pablo referring to climbers from Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan who parted with their extra food to them.

Detractors out to destroy football — PFF chief The Philippine Star 07/13/2006

Philippine Football Federation president Johnny Romualdez yesterday hit back at his critics, saying few recalcitrant provincial association members are out to destroy the PFF in particular and Philippine football in general by coming out with charges that have already been addressed by his leadership.

Romualdez said that recent actuations of Laguna Football Association president Arturo Pacificador Jr. and National Capital Region FA head Pocholo Borromeo have indicated that they are set to destroy Philippine football and the PFF by sensationalizing whatever fault they can see — real or perceived.

Guesting at the PSA forum last Tuesday, Pacificador and Borromeo hit the PFF for lack of transparency, professionalism and programs that they claimed are the reasons why local soccer is in doldrums.

"All these charges have already been addressed earlier by the PFF," said Romualdez.

He added that the next elections and regular Congress of the PFF will be held in Nov. 2007 and anyone nominated and seconded for president may run. An Extraordinary Congress, Romualdez stressed, may be called by the PFF president or upon request of at least 2/3 of the members, and the president can be removed if the Board of Governors propose such to Congress.

"But no such proposal exists," he said. "As a matter of fact, in the most recent meeting of the board, it was resolved that amendments be proposed to Congress that would effectively change the representation of the NCR in the PFF."

Romualdez’s detractors also pressed for the accounting of the sports association’s books, which Romualdez has already twice declined. The PFF reportedly spent P90 million over the past years and had earmarked P40-million in 2006.

"They seem to want to give the impression the PFF and its elected officials are pocketing funds intended for development. We categorically deny this, as will be proven by the ongoing Internal Audit and has been shown by the FIFA audits and by the reports of our external auditors and by reports to our Congress and to our Board of Governors," said Romualdez.

The PFF chief also disclosed that he had met with Pacificador and NCRFA representative Ramon Jose last week wherein they agreed that their request to audit PFF’s books would be granted when the revocation of the SEC registration is lifted.

The PFF, however, said the three provincial association presidents have already been conducting an internal audit and that the LFA and NCRFA can ask these presidents all the questions they want concerning the PFF’s finances. He added that the PFF is willing to open its books to all qualified parties.

"If the NCRFA makes good of their threat of filing estafa charges, that is its option. If the courts decide that they have a legal identity despite the revocation of their SEC registration, that is the option of the courts. If the courts decide that there is estafa, that is their option. But it is also our option to insist that the recalcitrants work on the lifting of these revocations before opening our books to them. It is also our option to name a reasonable time and date and to define reasonable procedures for any audit," Romualdez said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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