I have witnessed several waterfalls in my life but never have I seen yet one as peculiar as Asik-Asik Falls.
Guarded by the mountains, Asik-Asik Falls lies hidden in the middle of the vast open sea of grass fields and waving slopes of mountain landscapes of Alamada. It has been one of the must-visit waterfalls here in the Philippines due to it’s unusually beautiful facade.
From our Mt. Minandar climb, we spent our night in Cotabato City where we dozed-off quite early compared to our usual city life. Before the sun came out from the horizon, we woke up as early as 4:30 AM to get ourselves ready and catch the early trip bound for Libungan. It was still dark and the cold mist was still evident in the air. Establishments were still closed and the streets were empty as if a ghost town. Still sleepy,I dragged my heavy legs step by step as the sound of our sandals echoed across the streets. I continued my sleep right when I curled myself comfortably on the spacious and very vacant bus.
Anticipation building up!
The sound of the steps of the passengers boarding and leaving the bus woke me up as we were almost approaching our destination. I can clearly see the provincial scenes right through the window beside me and the soft glow of the rising sun on the opposite side of the bus. It was only minutes before we’ll arrive, and the thoughts of Asik-Asik Falls has completely invaded my mind. The excitement and expectations pumped my adrenaline that I could not get my eyes to close again.
‘Twas already six in the morning when we arrived at the Libungan Terminal. We were greeted by the sweet smell of the provincial air. The place was already busy and lively, with people preparing for their own day’s businesses. Vendors setting up their stores, and on the other corner, a man sipping coffee to kick-start his day probably. Tricycles, jeepneys, and habal-habal motorcycles converge at the terminal. The habal-habal drivers can quickly spot tourists heading to Asik-Asik Falls. When swarmed by these drivers, it can be very stressful in dealing with the price. The trick there is to never look like a clueless tourist or else they’ll shell out more money from you. We got ours for 650 pesos per motorcycle, back and forth trip (good for 2 people). But since we were 5, we have to rent three motorcycles and divide the rate among ourselves.
Heading to Asik-Asik Falls jump-off area needs more than an hour of motorcycle ride. Good thing we started early in the morning that the sun has not released its fiery rays yet. We passed through sets of buttery ride along the concrete roads as well as extremely rough and bumpy ride by the off-road trails. More than an hour sitting and balancing at the passenger seat of the habal-habal motorcycle numbed my butt. But everything was paid-off at the last part of the trip. As we got nearer to our destination, the cold air started blowing on my face as we get to see the vast landscape and mountains of Alamada.
Upon arriving at the humble village at the receiving area, we logged on to the visitor’s log book and paid the fees. The rush of my blood wavered my hands as I wrote my name on the visitors’ log book. The cold fresh air of the mountains awakened my senses. Ahhh! It’s also been a while since I heard the loud sound of silence. At one of the houses in the village lies a small garden where we bought our personally picked strawberries.
The other houses offer meals too. But I intentionally did not plan to eat breakfast that day as to not bloat my belly. But the enticing salty smell of the chicken pastil pulled me back, that I ate another serving after the other.
A bit of sacrifice for the price of heaven
Filled belly never fails to hypnotize me back to sleeping. But the excitement I felt whipped my butt to head on to Asik-Asik Falls with no time to waste. For more than 10 minutes of descent through the concrete trail and loose footpaths under the scorching wave of the sun’s heat, it surely dried up my throat. Still, it was never enough to weaken my spirit.
Have patience and perseverance and the reward will surely be sweet.
These was what’s been looping on my head until finally, traces of rich vegetation entered the scene and I can finally hear the sound of the water like a voice of an angelic choir. What seemed to be dragging footsteps suddenly turned like the stomps of galloping horses. Screams of amazement echoed across the whole place. Suddenly we became kids again.
Tracing the stream of cold water until boom! There it was! Right in front of our dumbfounded expressions, the humongous beauty of the waterfall’s facade.
We could not wipe away the smiles from our lips and the twinkle in our eyes as we were greatly awed by the grandiosity of Asik-Asik Falls.
An almost disaster
I couldn’t exactly determine whether my body was shivering from the cold mist in the air or was it because of the overwhelming built-up anticipation. But I am pretty sure it took me a while to decide to dip into the cold stream. If you have been following my other adventures in this blog you would surely know why. To divert my attention, I was just at the sides taking pictures from different angles until a heart-stopping event happened. My head was occupied with taking pictures that I did not notice my phone dropped on the stream. Well I heard a dropping sound, but it did not come to my senses that it was actually my phone. Not until I checked my unsealed sling bag that my phone wasn’t already there and something resembling of a phone was lying submerged by the river. And yes, that was my phone. Ugh! And that gave me an important lesson to never leave bags open. Good thing my phone is still alive up to this day.
I stopped taking pictures with my camera. Then the water brought out its enticing song ushered by the choreographed smiles of my travel buddies.
I couldn’t help but to dip-in and “enjoy” the cold water off Asik-Asik Falls. Facing the peculiar facade of the waterfall made me realize how humongous the waterfall is and how tiny I am. I am humbled by its scale. But its gracefully cascading water brings forth irony to its mighty size.
The sun’s rays, on the other hand, brought spectacle to the view as it cross through the mist refracting into mystifying rainbows. It was something not new to my eyes. But to stack it up with the picturesque view of the waterfall, I can’t help but be stunned in amazement.
Staying wet and cold for too long is beyond my limits. I did not even dared taking my shirt off – well, aside from hiding my bag of fats – because the air alone is already enough to give me spasms. And so there I was. Still fidgeting and shivering uncontrollably.
But the place is really too beautiful and ethereal not to be seized and enjoyed. A little sacrifice for a piece of heaven, I believe, is more than its worth. It was still early in the morning and so there were only a few visitors on the place. There we met with another traveler, named Cherry, with the same interest as we have. She is also into DIY traveling and has also the interest in climbing mountains. So it wasn’t really hard for us to easily relate with her. One advantage of DIY traveling is that you’ll get to meet plenty of people sharing the same interest as you. Another addition on our list of friends and acquaintances.
Well we did not stay for too long as we still have plenty of destinations too tick-off from our itinerary on that day. I wish we could have stayed a bit longer.
Traversing back the trail turned me to a mess. Never did I realized how steep it was not until it was time for us to get back to the jump-off area. What made it worse was the scorching heat of the sun. A piece of heaven really deserves a hellish price. Nevertheless, we made it to the jump-off area just within our schedule.
Asik-Asik Falls really is a beauty worth the sacrifice. It can be a frontier to the country’s tourism. But hopefully, together with the country and the municipality’s tourism progression, so will the drive towards the place’s preservation and protection intensify. Asik-Asik Falls is so beautiful to be ruined and put into waste. All I can ask for both the locals and the visitors to observe and help in preserving the natural cleanliness and beauty of Asik-Asik Falls. Let us contribute even in small ways.
HOT TO GET TO ASIK-ASIK FALLS
- From Cotabato City
- Go to Weena Bus Terminal and take a bus heading for Libungan Terminal
- Trip takes around an hour
- Bus costs around 60 pesos
- From Midsayap
- Take a bus heading for Libungan Terminal
- Trip takes around less than an hour
- Bus costs around 50 pesos
- Then from Libungan terminal
- Take a habal-habal straight to Asik-Asik Falls jump-off
- Trip takes around 1 and a half hour
- Costs 800 pesos per motorcycle back and forth
- Or commute via jeepney to Upper Dado, Alamada then take another habal-habal straight to Asik-Asik Falls jump-off
- I don’t recommend this as this will take more or less 4 hours of travel time
- Take a habal-habal straight to Asik-Asik Falls jump-off
- Upon arriving at the jump-off/receiving area for Asik-Asik Falls
- Pay the environmental fees (30 pesos per person) and
- Simply follow the trail heading to the waterfall.
NOTES and REMINDERS
- Put on your sunscreens and/or wear protective sleeves especially during sunny days.
- Prepare for more than an hour of habal-habal ride under the broad and harsh sunlight and minutes of walking on the open trail heading to the waterfall.
- Fees at the area:
- Environmental Fee – 30 pesos per person
- Parking Fees
- Motorcycle – 5 pesos per motorcycle
- Van – 25 pesos per van
- Double-tired vehicle – 50 pesos per vehicle
- Do not forget to bring hydration. There are stores at the jump-off area where you can buy drinks.
- The stores at the jump-off area sells snacks, drinks, and meals.
- Be ready to traverse steep and paved trail heading to the waterfall under the scorching heat of the sun.
- Be sociable towards and visitors you’ll meet along the trail.
- Getting back to the jump-off area can be very challenging due to the steepness of the trail.
- Always remember to observe and practice LNT (Leave No Trace) principle.
- Always have your trash bags ready.
- Do not throw or leave your trash anywhere. Bring it with you.
- Picking plants and or flowers as souvenirs is highly not allowed.
- Camp fires are strongly discouraged
- Lastly, enjoy and savor the gift of mother nature
- Enjoy the view and don’t forget your souvenir pictures.