Join me on an awesome adventure as I recall my thrilling journey to the top of Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete, Cebu, Philippines.

Leaving Home

At 3:30AM, I was awake. Perhaps it was the mixture of excitement and the nervousness of traveling alone that kept me from getting a good night’s sleep. Despite getting up early, I left home nearly 2 hours behind schedule. I initially planned to leave the house at 6AM to avoid the morning traffic but the laziness in me couldn’t help procrastinating.

Shortly after leaving home at around 7:40AM, I found myself sitting behind the driver’s wheel scolding myself for not sticking to the schedule. Yes, the traffic was already getting heavy.

Past 8:00AM, I reached Minglanilla – the part I dreaded the most because of the never-ending slow traffic movement, perhaps due to the narrow road and the countless number of pedestrians crossing the street here and there.

I was getting a little hungry so I decided to drive through Jollibee at the Star Mall. I ordered the regular yum meal and was a little disappointed to get a hot choco instead of the regular coke that normally comes with it. This was the second time I’ve driven-through this same branch. The first time, my meal didn’t come with the usual regular fries. A little bit frustrating.

Reaching Carcar

40 minutes later, I reached Carcar. One can easily tell they’ve reached Carcar because of the age-old Acacia trees and houses that line the road. I made a quick stopover at the new Super Metro to grab a few more snack items at the grocery.

I’ve been to the northern parts of Cebu quite a number of times but mostly on the western side. Dalaguete, where Osmena Peak is located, is on the eastern side, which means I would have to take the Bato route. A route I was not very familiar with as I’ve taken it only once, on a trip to Oslob in 2013.

Before reaching the famous rotunda in Carcar where I was to make the turn to Bato, I grabbed my phone and opened Google Maps. To my dismay, the freaking map wouldn’t load! This made me even more frustrated with the new OS. The app must’ve reset when I updated my phone.

So there I was, traveling alone in an unfamiliar route without a map! Panic immediately set in. I tried to recall the few articles I quickly skimmed through last night, hoping to remember seeing a map to Dalaguete.

At around 9:50AM, I drove past a sign that bore the name of a familiar place – Sibonga. I haven’t been to Sibonga but I know this place because the Simala Shrine is a famous religious attraction. I let out a sigh of relief. At least, I knew I still was at the main road and not somewhere in the middle of nowhere!

Reaching Dalaguete

A few more minutes and few more cars that I let pass by me (yes, I was driving slow – about 40-60kph), I reached a sign that greeted “Welcome to Dalaguet”. Finally! I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

I recalled reading from an article that the market should be my point of reference. I drove further hoping to see the market. I never did. My panic set in again when I drove past a sign that said “Welcome to Alcoy”. Great! Just great! How the heck am I in Alcoy already? Obviously, I must’ve missed a turn, a sign, or whatever.

I had to turn back. I decided to ask a local for directions to Osmena Peak. After a few exchange of questions and answers, I finally got a sense of direction.

From the main road, I should’ve made a right turn to a road that would lead to Mantalongon. “Oh yeah! That sounds familiar. It must’ve been mentioned in one of the few articles I read last night”, I thought.

The guy told me to make a left turn on the next corner.

“That corner?”, I asked.
“Yes, that corner.”, he reassured.

I thanked the ever helpful guy and headed to the crossing. Well no wonder why I missed this turn! The sign that says “Mantalongon” was covered by an overgrown tree!

The way to Mantalongon was a narrow two-lane road. The farther I drove from the main road, the air became cooler and the forest that lined the alley became thicker. A few kilometres more and a very colourful summer-themed sign greeted me “Welcome to Mantalongon”.

As I drove further, the road became steeper and less and less houses became visible. Driving alone on a narrow road through a thick forest felt a little eerie. I passed by a large sign that warned drivers of an ongoing road construction ahead. It didn’t bother me just yet. Not until I found myself driving through what felt like the longest and narrowest 3-meter wide unpaved road.
I suddenly had an awful feeling that I took a wrong turn and that I was headed for a dead-end! (Wow that sounded like some tagline to a horror movie).

There was no room to make a U-turn, so I drove on. The uncomfortable drive ended when I reached a clearing. I was back to driving on a similar, narrow yet paved road. Whew!

Reaching Mantalongon

A few minutes later, more people and buildings emerged. Ha! Civilization. At last. A few more kilometres and I reached the Barangay Hall. It was a little crowded and everyone had their eyes on me as I pulled over. I felt a little scared. But when I rolled my window down to ask for directions, everyone greeted me with a smile as if excited to see me! For a second there, I felt like a celebrity.

Everyone was very enthusiastic on helping me. One of the guys immediately volunteered to take me to Osmena Peak on his motorcycle. Well, not really. I had to pay him Php200.

I had two options on getting to the peak. The path leading there was narrow and rough which meant I couldn’t take my car with me. So I either had to walk from the main road or let a motorcycle (habal habal) take me to the foot of the mountain. The guy told me the first option would be a 2-hour trek while the latter would only take me 15 minutes.

Of course, I had to choose the second one. I am not a seasoned trekker and I am asthmatic so the second option was the best choice for me. Alibis? Naw, I’m serious!

After filling up my backpack with a pack of Piattos, Hershey’s Kisses, a small bottle of water, my camera and tripod; and after applying a generous amount of sunblock on my face and arms, my driver and I set off to the foot of Osmena Peak.

The barangay hall was just 3 minutes away from the road that led to the peak. So yeah, after 3 minutes, I was already holding on so tightly to the driver…uh no… to the motorcycle for my dear life! The ride was very rough! I felt like I was going to get thrown off the bike. I had no helmet on and this only added to the crazy thoughts that ran through my head as I was holding on the sides of the motorcycle with all my strength! “What if I get thrown off and hit my head? I’m going to die! I’m going to die!”, I screamed in my mind with panic.
I made it through. Alive. Thank God. But my hands were already sore and my back was aching. Of course, I pretended I was okay and that I didn’t just have a panic attack back there.

The Climb

When we reached the foot of the hill, local children swarmed toward me offering to take me to the peak. Before climbing, I was asked to sign on a logbook. Wow! Writing my name on that logbook instantly made me feel like a professional trekker. There weren’t any other names listed so I guess I was the only one climbing that day.
Two minutes into the ascent, my heart was already pumping and sweat was dripping from my face. The heat from the noontime sun was debilitating. My heavy backpack wasn’t helping either. The girl, who must’ve noticed how I was struggling, offered to carry some of my stuff for me. As much as my mind was against it, I had to let her as I felt like I was going to collapse any minute soon. Self-preservation had to come first, right?
“Di man bug-at! (It’s not heavy at all!)”, she boasted while I rested on a rock trying to catch my breath.
“Layo pa? Or mao nana? (Is that it?)”, I asked pointing to the curve behind the hill.
“Layo pa. Wa pa ta katunga! (Not even halfway there!)”, she answered.
“Wow! That was reassuring.”, I thought.
We continued our ascent, pausing every 3 meters. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I guess it was okay. “If only I had something to cover my head from the heat.”, I thought. Then suddenly, I remembered putting my jacket in the backpack before setting off. So despite the awesome heat, I was wearing a jacket during the rest of the climb.

As we reached halfway the ascent, the wind was getting colder. The heat was no longer that debilitating. As we made our way to the curve, I heard the weirdest whistling sound.

“Unsa na?? (What is that??) ”, I asked in horror.
“Ang hangin! (The wind!)”, the girl responded.

It was so cool. I’ve never heard the wind sing like that before. It was eerie but it was a different kind of eerie.

At the Peak

One more step and we finally reached the peak! I was gasping for breath. Not only because the climb was tiring but also because I was standing in front a magnificent sight. The peak overlooked hundreds of other cone-shaped mountains and the vast ocean that stretched out into the horizon. It was just a little past noon and the sun was high up making the sky clearer than ever. This allowed me to see everything below clearly. The ocean was gleaming under the blue sky and it gave me an immense feeling of serenity.

I looked at the girl, worried about her. I was surprised she seemed okay. Not a single drop of sweat on her face. I guess it’s the hundreds of times she’s climbed the mountain that made her immune to the heat and the tiring ascent.

 I rested on the large rock that sat on top of the mountain. The girl was silent most of the climb and usually only responded to my questions. I tried to make a conversation with her. She told me she still goes to school and the “tips” she get for taking tourists to the peak goes to her daily allowance. I felt kind of sorry for her and told her, her parents must be proud of her.

 After being able to catch my breath, I got my camera and took panoramic shots and countless selfies. The wind was really strong and was giving me a “bad hair day”. The girl volunteered to take pictures of me. She was very used to operating a camera which was no surprise to me.

A half hour later and after basking in the beautiful scenery, we began descending the mountain. We passed by a few locals who were working on fixing the makeshift pathway by laying down flat stones. They were smiling and even greeted me. One of them explained how the path can get really slippery during rainy days – an important thing to remember when planning my next visit. Everyone was so warm in Dalaguete.

My driver was already waiting when we reached the foot of the hill. I chatted with a few of the locals for a few minutes before getting back on the motorcycle. “Urggh… this again!”, I dreaded. I handed the girl who acted as my guide Php100 which she happily thanked for and then bade everyone goodbye.

I paid my driver the agreed Php200 plus an extra Php100 for being so kind. Soon, I was back in my car setting off for the next part of my trip – Badian.

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Home to hundreds of white sand beaches, natural landscapes, untouched wonders, and the ever hospitable Filipinos, the Philippines is no doubt one of the best places on Earth. The islands to visit, the seas to dive, the mountains to trek, the rich culture to experience – all these attract tourists from all over the world. But with poor tourism planning and awareness, the Philippines will soon be just another forgotten paradise. Over the years, it helped our economy grow tremendously. But with very little awareness among the locals and tourists, a lot of our natural wonders have sadly been slowly deteriorating. Coverrr aims to bring Filipinos together to showcase the beautiful places of the Philippines to the world while at the same time raise awareness on how one can take part in preserving these natural wonders so that our future generations may also benefit from them.