WATCH: Traumatised man ‘rescued’ after three years hiding in coconut tree

coconut tree
Three tree is lowered to the ground after being cut down in size with a chainsaw. Mr Sanchez was unhurt by the operation.

Footage has emerged of the “rescue” of a man who had taken refuge on top of a coconut tree for three years.

Gilbert Sanchez from La Paz, Agusan del Sur, reportedly took refuge in the 60ft tree after he was traumatised by a fight during a town fiesta in 2014.


The 47-year-old’s family said he was “hit with a gun” — but didn’t clarify whether he was pistol whipped or shot at.

Either way, relatives say he lost his mind and took to living in the tree for safety.

Every day for the past three years, his elderly mother has taken him food, water and changes of clothes. These essentials would be placed in a plastic pouch and drawn up with a piece of string.


Despite enduring the heat of the sun and rain, Mr Sanchez has shown no desire to return to an earth-bound existence. For years he has resisted attempts to lure him down, reportedly threatening those who approached too closely with a bolo [machete].

However, that all changed this week when the local community rallied to bring the widowed father of two daughters down from his refuge.

Footage of the operation was shared on the official Facebook page of News5. (Watch below)

At first people tried to coax him down. However, particularly considering his reclusive lifestyle, it was unlikely he’d willingly descend into the excitable, noisy crowd that had gathered below.

It was then decided to hold the coconut tree upright using a cherry-picker and ropes held by teams of villagers as lengths of the tree were chainsawed off from below. Once the height of the tree had been reduced by about 40ft, it was lowered to the ground and Mr Sanchez was “rescued”.

Once down, the footage shows him uninjured but bewildered as dozens of people throng around him, many filming the scene on their phones.

Some onlookers can be seen holding their noses — although his bodily functions could fall hygienically to the ground from his roost, it was reported that he had not washed since taking refuge in the coconut tree.

Mr Sanchez is a widower with two daughters. His wife died in 2000 while giving birth to their second child. His two daughters were left in the care of his mother.

It is not known what he thinks about the noisy and chaotic way he was removed from his retreat, nor how he is adjusting to life back on solid ground.

coconut tree
The Christian mystic Simeon Stylites the Elder, who lived on top of a pillar for 37 years in Roman times

His retreat to the coconut tree is reminiscent of the Syrian mystic Simeon Stylites the Elder, who ascended a pillar in 437AD and remained there until his death 37 years later.

However, even he was not permitted a quiet life, as sightseers and pilgrims gathered from across the Roman Empire to gawp at or question the recluse. Eventually an encompassing wall was built to help him maintain his life of prayer and contemplation.

Poor Mr Sanchez, however, was given no such consideration.

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WATCH | Sinusubukang sagipin si Gilbert Sanchez, ang lalaking tumira sa puno ng niyog sa La Paz, Agusan del Sur sa loob ng 3 taon (Part 4) | via Gem AvanceñaNa-trauma raw ang lalaki matapos hampasin ng baril sa ulo ng nakaaway kaya umakyat sa puno at doon na tumira.

Posted by News5 on Wednesday, October 11, 2017