Mt. Ugis: Experience the Knife-Edge Peak of Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat
By: Rea Mar E. Sarcadio
“Oo, lapit na! Lapit na lang kag mapatay na ta sa kalayo!” – “Oo malapit na! Malapit na tayong mamatay sa sobrang layo!”
“Di na ko! Mapuli na ko!” – “Ayoko na! Uuwi na ako!”
These are some of the rants you will surely hear from the hikers, especially the amateur ones, during the trek to the Skyscraper of the South, Mount Ugis – a part of the Daguma Mountain Range in Sitio Ugis, Barangay Marguez, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat Province.
A day hike to the mount's peak will introduce you to the excellent local culture of the Teduray, the natives living at the foot of Mt. Ugis, as you pass by their community. You will also meet some farmers along the trail. It has been a hotspot for beginners and seasoned mountaineers because of its stimulating and frightening knife-edge peak. The staggering height of Mount Ugis at approximately 1,000 feet above sea level makes it readily discernible from among the hills around. But before trying to reach the peak, you will have to go for a river trekking from the Teduray community in Sitio Ugis first. The trekking will render you ten astonishing waterfalls along the way, and the last tier before the final hike to the peak is the Manirub Falls. If you have enough equipment and adequate preparation, perhaps you should explore all ten of them.
You will expect a relatively short hike from the jump-off, but the trail would be 90 percent uphill, slightly muddy, and grassy. The courses are mostly shaded with trees, but the peak is an open, grassy, narrow area. It would be best if you have to rappel down approximately 10 meters before the final assault to the most-awaited star, Ugis Peak. It is scary to look at. One wrong move and you are dead. You think you have already gone through the most challenging part and survived, but that is not the case. If climbing your way up to the peak was tiresome and a little scary, descending was petrifying! You’d be holding your breath the whole time. Your legs would be shaking; not because you are tired but because your way down is dreadful!
The whole journey will help you spend some time on personal reflections. It will undoubtedly make you realize a few things about life. It’d teach you to keep moving forward. That even if the path you are taking is dangerous and challenging, you must move forward to reach your dream - a maaliwalas life.
The road to your goal won’t always be smooth and steady. It may get a little rough, rocky, grassy- uncertain, and sometimes threatening. But never let this scare you to walk through it and get to your destination. We only have one shot in this lifetime, might as well use it to our fullest ability. Whatever it is that you want, make it happen for you. May it be a home, an ultimate vacation, a book, or a once in a lifetime adventure like going up to the peak- you go for it.
Now, if you want to experience this kind of trekking and you are from neighboring cities and municipalities like Norala, Sto. Niño, and Koronadal, you can get there by taking a bus or van in your respective public terminals. The bus fare ranges from Php 103 to Php 130. Then, from Esperanza terminal, look for habal-habal (motorcycle) bound to Barangay Marguez. Inform the habal-habal driver that you are heading to Sitio Ugis- fare is P200.00 per trip for two pax. The ride should only take 40 minutes till you finally get to the foot of your destination. One more thing, always make your safety the priority. Gear up! Your trekking adventure starts now!