A 47-year-old man from La Paz, in the Agusan del Sur province of the Philippines who has been living on top of a coconut tree have been rescued by authorities.
The man, identified as Gilbert Sanchez, had apparently left his home to live on a nearby coconut tree for three years after being hit on the head with a gun during an argument.
He had never come down and would have probably stayed at the top till the end of his days if authorities had not rescued him by force.
He last felt solid ground under his feet in 2014 before climbing a 60-foot-tall coconut tree near his house.
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His mother remembers that he was so afraid that someone would come to kill him that he felt the only way to stay alive was to climb the tallest tree he could find and stay there.
For the last three years, he had been surviving only on the food and water his mother brought him which he would pull up in his tree haven with an improvised rope.
He would relieve himself from the top of the tree and not even the raging storms, the blistering heat or the ruthless insects could get him to come down.
Aldrin Sanchez, Gilbert’s brother, said both he and the other members of their family had been constantly pleading with him to come down but he just waved them away.
“One time, I asked him to come down, he said ‘Be quiet, I won’t go down. Someone would kill me if I do,'” his brother said.
A widower since 2000, when his wife died giving birth to their second daughter, Sanchez did not even come down from his tree-top home when his mother told him that she was too old to take proper care of his children and that they did not even go to school anymore.
Even though everyone in La Paz knew Sanchez’s story, no one did anything about it until an obscure article about him went viral on social media and was eventually picked up by major news outlets in the Philippines.
On October 11th, a team of 50 people along with Gilbert’s family tried convincing him to come down voluntarily one more time, after which they started cutting down the coconut tree with a chainsaw.