September 10, 2017

Liza Avelino, A Filipina Domestic Helper Who Climbed Africa’s Highest Mountain

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  • A Filipino domestic helper who overcame her impoverished background and reinvented herself as a keen Hong Kong adventurer has now set her sights on a bigger challenge, after climbing Africa’s tallest mountain!

    Liza Avelino has been planning to visit Tanzania to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro for over a year before she finally pulled it off, making her one of the first Filipinos who climbed Africa’s tallest mountain.

    PHOTO Liza Avelino

    For Avelino, mountain climbing and hiking are not the same. It was in 2006 when she started hiking every Sunday as her way of relaxation from a full time job as a domestic worker in Hong Kong. Even before she climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, her first mountain climbing trip dates back to April 2013, which was a snowy climb to Mt. Yarigatake, a 3,189-meter mountain in Japan.

    PHOTO Liza Avelino

    Having a passion for mountain climbing is not as easy as it seem. Avelino starts her mountain climbing journey by first picking a destination, making it a priority, and after, setting a timeline for the awaited climb. What keeps her motivated in mountain climbing is the idea to reach the peak and be of pride to the country.

    She would often use a photo of the target mountain as her screen saver for her phone and laptop to serve as photo motivator and to keep her reminded of the goal she wanted to achieve. “Standing on top of a mountain gives me a sense of achievement, freedom from life’s daily hassles, and I feel peaceful and so close to heaven,” she adds.

    PHOTO Liza Avelino

    Mountain climbing also meant having a lot of sacrifices. Before she was able to start her mountain climbing journey, she had to secure a leave from her work as a domestic helper.  Upon checking how much the trip would cost her, she placed her heart in that goal, and started saving for it. Aside from her tiring work, she also made sure to set up a fitness training schedule.

    When asked what it is like representing the Philippines, she said that she climbs for herself and it just happens that she is a Filipino by birth. “The government in the country or the consulate in Hong Kong hasn’t helped or sponsored any of my climbs. But I do recognize that when I go to a different country, I will be known by my citizenship. I just try to consciously portray all that is good about my country by being an ideal tourist and being warm and friendly to people I encounter on my travels,” she states.

    PHOTO Liza Avelino

    Miss Avelino considers that the most memorable climb she did was the one where she participated in August this year — a climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and one of the world’s seven summits. “I successfully made it to the top and at the same time I able to raise funds for a local charity,” she recalls.

    Her advice to aspiring mountain climbers or hikers is out there is to start climbing smaller peaks, then make it a goal to level up one peak higher each time. “Set that goal as your priority, (and) invest in quality gears one at a time. Train and condition your physical fitness by hiking long hours once a week with a 10-15 kg backpack, walk up and down the stairs of a high rise building with a weighted backpack 2-3 times a week if there’s one where you live. Save for it, think of it every day, and off you go make it happen!”

    Written By Patricia Antoinette M. Nacianceno
    All photos courtesy of  Liza Avelino

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