Everest is just a dream for everyone of us but for Romi, its something that he can already cherished for a life time. He made a mark on our history and soon to amaze us in the future.
His return to his hometown in Bataan, is like another journey for him. He had never seen his family for quite sometime during his full time preparation and training for his big dream on Everest. So this time, his return is made possible with the full support of his fellow mountainers and his major sponsors.
Allow me to share my photo essay. Although this is not my usual travel blog, Please consider it as a new experience for us as I once travel in a life of a very ordinary, simple person yet so determined and full of passion for his sport. The name who made headlines-- Romi Garduce.
6:30 -- Our convoy started from the backgate of GMA 7. We drove in a Revo with my writers while Romi rode in a van with his fellow UP mountainers and Northface group. His loyal friend, Henry who is the current UP Mountainers President drove his F150 with his wife. We had a stop-over at Shell station by the North Express way for breakfast.
8:30 - We arrived at the boundary of Pampanga and Bataan where the motorcade team and local supporters are waiting. He can't believe what he sees, and even hesitant to jump off from the van. Waiting fans cheered when they saw Romi marching towards the float made for him. They all wanted to shake hands with this man who had conquered the Everest. As he went near the float, the band starts to play. He was meet again by Jemo, the GMA 7 cameraman who joined him at Everest basecamp with Jiggy.
9:00 - He is on his float fully decorated with a replica background of Mt. Everest. Posters and streamers of congratulations are on every vehicle who will join the motorcade. As we passed by the barangays, all cheered for him with such pride and chanting furiously his name. The motorcade created heavy traffic because of the narrow roads going to his hometown in Balanga. And as the sun heats up, the motorcade starting to go slow because of the crowded area in some municipalities. It's good that somebody volunteered to get an umbrella for Romi or else he will be fried again with the scourging sun.
11:00 - We arrived at the Provincial Capitol where the Governor and ten of his officials are waiting to congratulates him. His aging mother and four of his siblings are also there. After a brief chat with the officials we all get inside the Provincial Meeting Room for the start of the Program.
Several awards and Merit on his honor was given to him. And as usual this politicians are all ready specially for the photo op. A 5-minute film showing was shown in a projector to showcase his successful feat. In return, Romi give the Governor his personal souvenir from Everest to the people of Bataan. It was a picture of him and colored flaglets which he used during his climbed. They said that it was blessed by the Lama to give him guidance on his journey.
12:30 - The governor treat us with buffet lunch. Its about time for all of us especially Romi to relax after the 3-hour motorcade. The food are nice and really mouth-watering everyone are quite and so busy with the food. After that lunch and a stick of "yosi", another pictorial session for the group together with the local press. Then, the group decided to go to Romi's place to rest.
1:30 - We are at Romi's residence and a simple buffet of steamed crab was prepared by his family. He invited us to join them but we rather prefers to stay at the sala and sip a couple of beers he gave us earlier. GMA 7 camera starts to roll to document and conduct some interviews with his family, they have to do this for their news update deadline.
2:30 - The sirens rang, the band played and the float came to pick us for another round of motorcade. This time, its only in the municipality of Balanga. Romi's visitors came and his neighbors were alerted of his presence and immediately flock the area. By the way, he lives in a village and it has a narrow street to accomodate more vehicles. Earlier, our arrival at his house is just like an ordinary visitors who knock on door and it did not alerted his neighbors. May be they don't realized that Romi was with us.
4:30 - The city government of Balanga had also prepared a program for Romi. Upon our arrival, people are running towards our direction. Most of them are youth and they scattered all over with their cellphones on to get his pictures. The funny thing is that on his way to the stage to meet the Mayor, the crowd were so excited that it even bumped the mayor to get a clear shot of Romi. I know for sure he's quite irritated with the scenario:). Again, for the second time...awarding ceremony follows.
7:00 pm - we decided to go back to Manila..the view of heavy rains is like a back massage for me after this event. I'm so tired same with my two companion chick who find their own comfort at the back of our service vehicle.