Even if you’ve never climbed a mountain in your life, you will want (and be able) to climb Osmeña Peak, Cebu’s highest mountain, whose raw and rugged beauty arguably rivals the better known pastoral charms of Batanes and even evokes — dare I say it — the Fairy Glen of the Scottish island of Skye.
It’s unbelievably easy to get to Osmeña Peak, which is located in Mantalongon, Dalaguete; the trip there and back is entirely doable in half a day. From the Cebu South Bus terminal, take the bus going to Bato/Oslob (or just inquire which bus passes by Dalaguete) and ask to be dropped off at the intersection of the main highway and the road going to Mantalongon. The bus fare from Cebu City to Dalaguete is PHP 105 for air-conditioned buses, PHP 100 for non-aircon. The moment you step off the bus, you will be greeted by a swarm of motorcycle drivers asking you if you’re going to Osmeña Peak. Any one of them can take you to the base of the mountain, wait while you climb, and take you back to the center of Dalaguete, all for PHP 200. Alternatively, if you have a car, you can take the Mantalongon road and drive up to the Mantalongon market, where you can then engage a motorcycle driver to take you to the mountain base and back for PHP 100. Or if you have a 4WD, it’s possible to drive all the way up to the base of Osmeña Peak. At the base, you can hire a guide — many of the “guides” are children looking to earn lunch money — and from there, it will take you less than an hour to climb to the summit.
The trek up will initially take you through vegetable farms and grassy mountainsides where cows can be observed grazing. Mantalongon supplies much of the island’s edible greens and you will very likely meet locals descending towards the market, carrying towering baskets of cabbage and other vegetables — make way for them! The path is narrow at times and can be slippery soon after a rain, but only the first part is steep and Osmeña Peak is otherwise a fairly easy climb. Bring a walking stick if you have one but it’s not necessary. Bring water, and food if you want. There are no trash bins along the way so please be a decent human being and keep your empty potato chip bags in your pack or pocket until you can properly dispose of them.
The landscape will start to change after you’ve been walking a few minutes. You will start to see grassy knolls with an otherworldly feel and cliffs enveloped in moving mist. And finally: the peak itself and its stunning 360° views.
And if you live anywhere near Cebu, you will wonder, as I did, what took you so long to get here.