A 47-year-old man from La Paz, in the Agusan del Sur province of the Philippines has been rescued by authorities three years after he climbed a 60-foot-tall coconut tree near his house and had not descended since.
But for his rescue recently by a taskforce, Gilbert Sanchez would probably spend the rest of his life atop the coconut tree.
According to odditycentral.com, Gilbert Sanchez, reportedly left his home to live atop a nearby coconut tree three years ago, after he had been hit on the head with a gun, during an altercation.
His mother is reported to have said Gilbert had decided to go and live atop the coconut tree out of fear that someone would come to kill him.
He has therefore been living on the tall coconut tree for the last three years, surviving only on the food and water his mother brought him every day, which he would pull up in his tree haven with an improvised rope. Not even the raging storms, the blistering heat or the ruthless insects could get him to come down.
All attempts by his mother, Winifreda Sanchez, to convince Gilbert to come down from the top of the coconut tree proved futile. All she could afford to do was to constantly feed him to ensure he was alive.
His brother, Aldrin Sanchez said that 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.'”
Even when his wife died giving birth to their second daughter, Gilbert Sanchez didn’t 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.
Even though everyone in La Paz knew Gilbert 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.
They sent film crews to his village, and their coverage finally convinced local authorities to help the man’s family get him down from his tree.
On October 11, 2017, a team of 50 people along with Gilbert’s family made another futile attempt to convince him to come down voluntarily. They then started cutting down the coconut tree with a chainsaw.
Apparently, it was a difficult operation, as one wrong move could make the difference between bringing the man down safely and killing him. But eventually, Gilbert was brought down after three years.
Videos doing the rounds on Facebook show Gilbert Sanchez’s body covered in blisters and insect bites. He also suffers from muscle atrophy and his spine has become deformed after so much time spent crouching in the coconut tree. But the man’s mind is by far the most damaged.
A psychiatrist’s initial assessment, indicates that the 47-year-old man exhibits symptoms of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations and the fear that someone is trying to kill him. He has been put on a medication, and will have to take it regularly in order to have a normal life.
Gilbert’s tragic story made a lot of impact on Filipino social media, with many users asking how they could help him and his mother get their lives back on track.
Watch the video below for more: