The warmth of the morning sun caressed my skin as I took a moment to take in the beauty that was in front of me. The view was surreal. My mind cannot find a more fitting word to describe the beauty of the curtain of water cascading on a rock face with green vegetation. I have seen it in pictures and, now that I am standing in front of it, the mystery behind Asik-Asik Falls begin to deepen.
Located deep within the mountainous terrain of Alamada in the province Cotabato is one of the country's most beautiful waterfalls, Asik-Asik. This tourist destination stands out because its springwater cascades through a wide rockwall surface with green vegetation creating a stunning image of a curtain of water. This unique cascade make it an extraordinary destination to explore and discover. Its beauty was kept well-hidden from the world until its discovery by the locals in 2010 but it was only two years after its initial discovery that it started to catch the attention of off-beat travelers.
Getting a first hand view of Asik-Asik Falls is no joke. One needs to endure a two-hour habal-habal ride through paved and rough roads from Midsayap, our jump off point, to Brgy. Dulao in Alamada. My driver mentioned that the roads are a lot better now compared to earlier years as most of the access roads to Brgy. Dulao are close to completion making the trip faster and more comfortable. He shared with me that during earlier years, they had to contend with rough roads that compromises their safety and their guests. By the way, it is highly recommended to have one guest per habal-habal for safety reasons.
The two-hour ride will traverse through the agricultural fields of Midsayap, Libungan, and Alamada giving you a refreshing view of the rural scene of the region. The endless view of the valley bordered by the mountains of the nearby provinces will keep you entertained and amused during the habal-habal trip. I enjoyed the rustic views especially when we were already traversing the hills of Alamada that overlooks the valleys of Cotabato.
The first thing that I noticed when we arrived at Brgy. Dulao was the efforts of the local government to build tourist facilities in the area. There is a registration/waiting hall, with a nice view of the hills, where tourists can re-charge before and after visiting the famed waterfalls. Local residents have also set-up small snack and souvenir shops beside the hall where I had my favorite breakfast of pastil! These are strong indications of the robust commerce that Asik-Asik Falls is bringing in to the community.
After we registered and paid a minimal fee of Php20, we started our trek down the ridge to the waterfalls. The downhill trek is easy because of the cemented pathways. There are shaded rest stops along the way but it is more often used during the uphill trek back. One would not notice the steep descent down the trail because your eyes will be treated with a panoramic view of Alamada's mountain farmlands. Note that there are no streams or river that run parallel with the trail to the waterfalls.
For a brief moment, I was in awe at the raw beauty of Asik-Asik Falls when I first saw it in full view. I was dumbfounded with its beauty that I wondered how such a natural wonder was kept hidden from the world for a long time. I breathed in its beauty while enjoying the warmth of the sun and the gentle trickles of mist on my skin. It was worth enjoying the moment first before doing anything.
The beauty of Asik-Asik Falls is its unique cascade that covers the whole rock surface of the cliff covered with moss and ferns. Spring water cascades from a height of 60 meters into a shallow basin creating a veil of water and mist. Visitors can wade into the pool and enjoy a refreshing cold shower at the base of the rock wall. The more adventurous ones climb up its slippery rocks for photo ops or to get a better view of the cascade.
Asik-Asik's beauty is also clouded with mystery. The water that cascades onto the wall surface emananates from a spring beneath its walls unlike other waterfalls where its water comes from a water source upstream. I have asked locals where the water source of this unique waterfalls and they could only point to two nearby lakes as its possible source - Lake Lanao or Lake Putian. The water then snakes under the ground to spring out of Asik-Asik Falls.
There is no doubt that Asik-Asik Falls is one the most photogenic waterfalls in the country. Every corner and every angle is worth capturing on photo. The fallen trees and potruding rocks add to the drama of the scene. The best area to capture a panoramic shot of Asik-Asik Falls is downstream ofcthe tributary where you get to see the whole beauty of the falls. The best time to visit is early in the morning to avoid the crowd.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
As we slowly trudged uphill to the registration area, I was still in awe of Asik-Asik unique beauty. I was amazed with how majestic it looked up close. Its unique feature definitely make it one of the best destinations in the country. It is a trip that is worth taking.
What makes the whole Asik-Asik Falls experience more interesting is the fact that it was a recent find by both the locals and the traveling community. It begs the question - what other uniquely beautiful destinations can we find in Mindanao? I am excited with the opportunities of exploring this part of the country now that it is getting the spotlight that's been long overdue. And for starters, it is definitely safe to travel in Mindanao.
Getting There: Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have regular flights to Cotabato. In Cotabato City, you can take a trike to Novo Merchandise along Jose Lim Street where the terminal for vans that pass through Midsayap are located. Fare to Midsayap is Php70 and travel time is approximately 45 minutes. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the Midsayap Community Doctor’s Hospital where most of the habal-habals are located.
Habal-Habal rates to Dulao, Alameda from Midsayap is at Php750 roundtrip. It is highly recommended to have one habal-habal per person for safety reasons.
You can contact our habal-habal driver Kuya Jun Camap at +63919 4558958 to arrange for your trip.
From the Dulao registration center, it will be another 20-30 minute downhill trek to Asik-Asik Falls.
Sample Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Cotabato City / Cotabato City Tour
- The Grand Mosque (Habal-Habal Contact: Mohammad Edsa - 0935 9063067)
- People’s Palace
- Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
- PC Hill and Tantawan Park
- Old Cotabato City Hall
- Cotabato City Plaza
Day 2: Asik-Asik Falls, Alamada, Cotabato
Day 3: Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat Road Trip in the morning enroute to Lake Sebu.
- White Mosque (Datu Odin Sinsuat)
- Margues Blue Lagoon (Datu Odin Sinsuat)
- Pink Mosque (Datu Saudi Amapatuan)
- Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol (Isulan)
Lake Sebu Walking Tour (PM)
- Lake S’bu
- T’Boli Museum
- Lake Sebu Town Center
Day 4: Lake Sebu Tour (Contact person for Lake Sebu Tour: Ronald Maguan – 0997 2482160). Travel to Glan in the afternoon.
Day 5: Glan Tour
- Lago Beach
- Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church
- Glan Municipal Hall
- Taban Beach
Travel to General Santos City in the afternoon
Day 6: General Santos City Tour
- General Santos Fish Port
- Queen Tuna Park
- Pioneer Street
- Plaza Heneral Santos
- Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
- Tiongson Arcade
Day 7: Early morning departure to Manila
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.