Night Trekking Mt. Kafoc in Acmonan, Tupi, South Cotabato

The see of clouds as seen from the top of Mt. Kafoc

Just when I thought I'm done and over with mountain climbing, boy I was so wrong! Now that I've tapped into the community of climbers, I've seen so much opportunities to conquer every mountain particularly here in Mindanao. I can't brag about this because I am a newbie, I am not full time and I can still count by fingers the number of mountains I've already conquered. I am so glad that although I am not really into this, I am actually making progress,. In fact, I've just recently conquered another mountain and it's a nice addition to my list, the Mt. Kafoc located in Acmonan, Tupi, South Cotabato. The climb to Mt. Kafoc was extraordinary for me for two reasons. 1.) It was my first time to trek at night , and 2.) We climbed Mt. Kafoc with a purpose, and that is to serve the B'laan community in the mountain. 

The peaceful ambiance of Mt. Kafoc
The original plan was to start trekking at dusk so we could probably catch the sunset along the way. But it never happened. It started raining cats and dogs just right before we supposed to meet at crossing Acmonan. I have no idea about the setup whatsoever, my plan was just to go with the flow, make my way to the mountain and do what we're supposed to do when we reach the summit. After two hours of waiting, the rain finally subsided. There were 14 participants coming from parts of SOCSKSARGEN area. Most of them were familiar faces to me, I also saw several new faces, and although we were challenged by the rain, we're all confident that we can make it through the night.

Trail to Mt. Kafoc at night

We started trekking at around 7:20 PM. We have to hire habal habal to carry our baggage for us. One habal habal could carry as much baggage as it can for a P200 fare. The night was dark and full of terrors(red priestess), but nothing could go against our fighting spirit. It was dark, yes! It's raining, yes! It's tiring, yes! But we're committed to finish the climb.

The struggles of Habal Habal drivers

The climb to Mt. Kafoc was never easy for us, but after seeing how the habal habal struggled just to make it to the top of the mountain, we were stripped off of the right to complain. If it's difficult by foot, it's extra difficult for the motorcycle to climb the mountain. Not only the trail is parabolic, it's also muddy and wet. There are several occasions that we have to stop and give way to the struggling vehicle. Sometimes, driving it was never easy, so they have to push its way up. Accident also happened from time to time. But as much as we pity the machines, we are more concerned about the drivers who are not only offering their skills and strength but also risking their lives just to bring our heavy baggage to the destination. Some of the drivers got injured, some of them struggled, but they're determined to do what they have to do for call of duty. To the motorcycle drivers of Mt. Kafoc, I salute you guys for your heroic effort to help bring the baggage of the mountaineers.

As much as we want to help the motorcycle drivers, we're also struggling on our own journey. We started to feel hungry seeing that we're trekking at dinner time. We can't see anything except for the silhouette of the mountains and the colorful bright lights of the city of Koronadal and General Santos. The shadow of Mt. Matutum was beaming over us, but we can only see as much as we can. We were under the mercy of our flashlights and the little lights from the few stars above. But generally, it was a happy climb for us. Surprisingly, despite the odds, we were enjoying the experience. I don't know about the others, but for me, it was my first time to do that. And although it's quite scary when you think about going to the mountain at night, with great company, nothing could go wrong.

The peak of Mt. kafoc

After more than two hours of climbing, we finally arrived at Mt. Kafoc. Unlike the other mountains that I climbed before, we actually have the accommodation because our final destination was at the school of Mt. Kafoc. There are houses owned by the B'laan tribes who live in the area. There's electricity, there are concrete buildings and, there's comfort room and water! It's not what I expected, but who would say no for a little comfort in the mountain, right? Surprisingly, I was not really tired when we reached the Kafoc Elementary School, just hungry.

I had a small talk with the Administrator of the school. She's teacher Edna, and just like us, she also struggled to reach the top of Mt. Kafoc. But Unlike us, she's doing it every single week along with her co-teachers. I found out that the school building was made possible through the generosity of New Zealand. Although our own government could not provide a school building for our B'laan kids in Kafoc, they saw the need, and without any hesitation, they provided financial support to make Kafoc Elementary School as to what it is now. A place conducive for learning and an opportunity for the B'laan kids to go to school without going through difficult and risky trail. My respect goes to Teacher Edna and her co-teachers for the patience and for the willingness to go through that difficult trail just to reach out and educate our B'laan kids in the mountain.

Although we have the whole room where we can sleep at night, we preferred to set our tents outside. We had our sumptuous dinner, any food served on the table, may it eggs, dried fish and whatnot tasted so good for our starving stomach. We freshened up to prepare to sleep, laughed a little, talked a little, and had fun a little. But little did we know, it's already 1 in the morning. We rushed inside our respective tent so we could catch some sleep for the next day's event.

Foggy morning at Mt. Kafoc
We woke up on a foggy morning. Still groggy from last night's shenanigans, we immediately surveyed the area of Mt. Kafoc. We can't see anything just yet because the fogs covered everything in the mountain. We opted to just had our coffee and noodles while the mountain was shying on us. When the sun started to show up, we had complete visibility of our surrounding. And yeah, it was amazing.

Exploring the mountain area at Kafoc
The green luscious mountains, the view of Mt. Matutum, the sea of clouds, the view of the cities and the laughter of B'laan kids who went early to our campsite, they're all perfect. It was a nice morning to wake up with. It is where you can just sit all day and look at the beautiful surroundings without any troubles.

Community outreach to the B'laan kids
After our mountain appreciation, we gathered the kids to distribute school bags, food and clothes. We also fed them and mingled with the kids. The smile on their innocent faces are priceless. It is one of the few moments where you don't need to hear them say thank you because their expressions are enough assurance that they appreciated what we did to them.

Teacher Edna giving away food and clothes to the kids

Mt. Kafoc is getting popular now especially to the climbers. If I have to give advice the next time you decide to climb Mt. Kafoc, I think you climb there not only for fun but also to give value to the people who live there. Be a source of happiness even for the Habal Habal drivers who are more than willing to unload you of the burden of carrying your luggage. Give something to the B'laan community especially the kids, maybe in the form of food, used clothes and anything you could offer. I believe that the beauty of Mt. Kafoc lies not only on its cold climate, beautiful view and fresh air, but also from the people who call it home.

As per the latest update, a Barangay Ordinance no. 32 Series 2019 was approved by Sangguniang Bayan of Tupi declaring Sitio Kafok as Tourist Spot called "Banwe Damweng". There will be a minimal registration of P50.00 and P500.00  deposit for waste disposal. You need to secure a permit from the Barangay before going to Sitio Kafok.