Article as published in M Magazine (life & living in Mindanao) Volume 8 No. 2 issue
Photos as published in Lantaw Magazine (official entry to Blue Feathers 2015)
One may mistakenly identify this place to a foreign land when in fact this place is still peak of General Santos City or GenSan. Sanchez Peak, GenSan’s highest mountain, is situated in B’lakayo (also known as Little Tagaytay) in Barangay Olympog. Formally opened to the public in 2014, Sanchez Peak has attracted not only locals but also lovers of the great outdoors from different parts of the country.
Going to the peak entails one to take an hour of habal-habal (motorcycle) ride (at 50PHP per person) plus another two hours of trekking. But do not get disappointed – a whole new world of adventure is waiting for the hikers.
Trekking to Sanchez Peak requires no professional mountaineering skill. For as long as you know that you are physically fit, there is nothing to worry about. For one, you can leisurely do the trek at your own pace. The trails are also safe and secured. The scorching of the heat of the sun might be your ultimate enemy, thus it is recommended that you start off early in the morning and rehydrate so often.
When my friends and I did the trek, we had a great experience especially with the people we met along the way. Our habal-habal driver even introduced to us to some locals, just in case we need assistance. Like in most far-flung communities, most of the houses there are situated far from each other. It was really a big help to know that we have people to count on in case of emergency.
The first half hour of the trek was a gradual ascent to a steep trail. The heat started to drain our energy. The thought of backing out kept coming back in hour head but the idea of seeing the breathtaking view from the top kept us going.
On our way to the peak, residents in some communities as well as some hikers heading back down would occasionally smile and cheer on for us. A family even invited us for a quick breakfast. We knew that we were far from our destination but every smile and cheer we got from random people served as our motivation.We decided to take a water break under the shade of a tree after forty-five minutes of hiking.
While resting, we saw an old man on a horse followed by two other hoses heading towards our direction. We greeted him as halted right in front of us and happily opened up a conversation. He introduced himself as Tatay Silva, a native living a mountain away from Sanchez Peak.
My friends and I jokingly asked if we could hitch-hike on his horses. Unexpectedly, he graciously agreed. And we happily accepted. Since one of his horses was still very young and there were four of us, we took turns in riding on two of Tatay Silva’s horses.As we continued with our journey, Tatay Silva shared to us his life in the mountains and the people living there. Almost all of the people we met along the way knew him by his name. He even introduced us to some of them.
When we felt that we have somewhat regained our energy after an hour or so, we thought that it was time for us to do actual trekking. At first, Tatay Silva wanted us to enjoy the horse ride but when we finally reached the point where we were about to take different directions, we had to to bid him farewell.
We were nearing our destination when we began to catch sight of the breathtaking views of the mountains surrounding Sanchez Peak. As some people who have been to the peak would say, it felt like we were in a foreign land. As opposed o the humid weather in downtown GenSan, we could feel and breathe in fresh mountain air from there.
As we head closer to Sanchez Peak, we met another group of hikers descending from the mountain. Since we were really not quite sure which trail to take, some of them willingly gave us directions.
Upon reaching Sanchez Peak, we were welcomed by the panoramic view of GenSan, and that alone took our breath – and fatigue – away. The sweeping landscape was just stunning.More than the visual rewards of conquering Sanchez Peak, what made our trek more memorable was how the locals treated us like friends. It was their warm welcome and infectious smiles that made our journey more bearable.
I guess, that is how we would always remember Sanchez Peak to be – a place where there are no strangers, only friends waiting to be introduced to be each other.