Mountaineer in Focus: Yay N. Ortega of MFPI/UPOrg


This month, I am particularly giving tribute to the men and women behind the umbrella organization that handles the mountaineering community in the Philippines. Since the time that I had been exposed to the outdoors, even before the time I had done the Basic Mountaineering Course, I already had a high regard with the outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers way before me. As a kid of age 5 or 7, I had always been exposed to the woodlands. My late uncle and my father always made it a point that I walk around 3 kilometers or so going to our jump off point before trekking a 45-minute steep assault towards our ancestral home. And for a kid, it was a tiresome and grueling task. I, on my end, didn’t see it as tiresome. I felt it was enjoyable to have sightseeing of the different landforms, plants, and trees.

Fast forward 20 years present, I had been pursuing my passions into the outdoors. By hook or by crook, I am joining climbs not just to satiate my passion for the outdoors, but as avenue for me to find myself when I felt like I’ve been too consumed by deadlines, pressure [whether work or peer related] and also when I felt like I need to get back in focus.

Now for my first feature, I had the great opportunity to talk and became friends with Mam Yay Ortega, the President of Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines last April in Albay during the 4 day Annual National Congress at Daragang Magayon Festival. It was both uplifting and refreshing to get to know cool people during the event. ๐Ÿ™‚

>Here are some fast facts for Mam Yay:

> name:
Pilar N. Ortega
> address:ย Grew up in Marikina City
> school/university graduated from:
> Degree/Course:
BA Communication
Communication Research Major ย 

At this point, I was able to ask here some important questions with her being on top of things for MFPI:

1. What were your inspirations in joining an outdoor club? What year were you officially a member?
1991. ย I wanted to experience nature and adventure.
2. What were your highlights as a member of UP Org?
-River trekking, backpack riding
-exploration climbsย 
-spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment climbs/ camping
-introduction to MFPI
-fun days (and nights) with ORGmates

3. Any downsides during major climbs?

As with any other outdoor enthusiast, I have experienced extreme fatigue that I could not walk anymore, being caught in heavy rain, having to camp in emergency camps, having to stay and extra day or two….etc. ย I am sure plenty of ย others have had tougher things to deal with than me. ย It’s all part of the adventure, though. ย I would not consider them downsides.
4. How important is attitude and interpersonal skills for you?
You can be the strongest and most skillful climber in the world but without positive attitude andย friends to share the best adventures with..well it’s rather sad. ย There are those who are not so strong or skilled in trekking but are great to be in the outdoors with because they have positive energy and deal well with others no matter what.


5. Being the president of MFPI, how do you see the organization in the next 10 years?
Hopefully, the MFPI by then should be taking a more active role in national environmental concerns as well as a firmer presence in national ย and international mountaineering scene.
6. Any moments when you feel like giving up as a president?
Not really ๐Ÿ˜€
7. Any inspirational message to individuals like me who wanted to be a part of MFPI?
Keep on climbing and keep on learning. Learn from those who have been there.ย 
Be safe. Be prepared.
Respect other climbers, respect locals and respect Mother Earth.
And remember it’s supposed to be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚
So there! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you got a glimpse of the life and thoughts of Mam Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚
Early morning chat with Mam Yay :)
Early morning chat with Mam Yay ๐Ÿ™‚


Crazy morning selfie with Mam Yay. On the background is Joel and Dawe.
Crazy morning selfie with Mam Yay. On the background is Joel and Dawe.


rare selfie with the President :)
rare selfie with the President ๐Ÿ™‚


MFPI Ladies :)
MFPI Ladies ๐Ÿ™‚


  • I’ve always wanted to try mountaineering myself, Jeane and it’s inspiring to see that you’ve pursued your childhood passion. It takes a lot of efforr and commitment to continually pursue that hobby so outdoor enthusiasts, I salute you! Great post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yeah I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚ But then, come hell or high water, I will still pursue my passion no matter what.

  • Rea

    Inspiring! If I have more time, I’ll definitely get into that kind of hobby too. I don’t have all the time in the world though but well, when an opportunity comes for me to be more active outdoors, I’ll dive in as long as I’m prepared. ๐Ÿ™‚ Being outdoors is wonderful!

    • Of course. We can always start with light treks then eventually progress to something a little bit difficult. But then again, I suggest you will join MFPI initiated Basic Mountaineering Course for safety ๐Ÿ™‚ Will let you know then ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Can I go with you if ever you’ll go mountain climbing? I think that would be really fun to try since I’m mostly just beach and indoor type of person.

  • It is so nice of you to feature some of the pillars of the mountaineering community. Over 20 years commitment to climbing deserves a lot of RESPECT. Please ask her which mountain will she climb on her “silver anniversary”?

    • Haha! Will ask her then. I think she had already had her Silver Anniversary climb. As for me, if ever I would reach that, maybe I will do an international climb, could be Mt. Everest. Who knows, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great feature JL! Go climb more mountains. I’m sure interviewing here gave you loads of inspiration!

    • it did! ๐Ÿ™‚ She was so down to earth and well rounded. everyone loves her ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Very inspiring… She’s doing it to experience nature and adventure. Someday, I would be a certified mountaineer too. hehehehe

  • I’ve only been to two minor climbs and it was already kapoy haha. Over 20 years of climbing experience? Just wow. amazing.

  • wapakoi major climb coz no gears, no tent and di pako confident..but planning to explore more and build a social enterprise around exploring!

    • then join us for the next Pundok HABAGAT Basic Mountaineering Course para you would know the basics ๐Ÿ™‚ It will help build your confidence in the outdoors too! Having gears is a must too but maski pa naa kay complete gears, if dili ka aware sa mga do’s and dont’s, then walay kwenta ang mga gears. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I wish to be a mountaineer, too. Makaya kaya naku?

    • Kaya basta naa kay interest and inherent love for the outdoors. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks for all the comments guys, and although I had been exposed into the outdoors for the last 20 years, I had only became serious on it [meaning taking Basic Mountaineering Courses] last 2013. So it is safe to say that I just became educated in the outdoors for 2 years now ๐Ÿ™‚ Mam Yay had been exposed way ahead before me and she served as my inspiration in the outdoors ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you are all inspired to take the path less traveled too.

  • Good job on following what you love’s really an amazing feeling when you get inspiration from people with the same passion. Good luck on your adventures and hope to climb with you sometime.. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Nice you got up close and personal with the MFPI prexy..must be bliss

  • Kap

    tao po!