North Cotabato’s Pride: The Majestic Asik-Asik Falls

Awe-inspiring

A year ago, Kaye and I were contemplating on where to celebrate my 27th birthday. Surely, it wasn’t an easy decision given the 2 previous birthday celebrations I had (my 25th was in Singapore and my 26th was in Hong Kong) but since we haven’t planned on going to an international destination, at least for this year, we decided to go local instead. Then we had the green light for my 27th birthday: to stay at Midsayap, my ever beloved hometown, and a visit to one of the most fascinating tourist destinations the Philippines has seen in the last decade, Asik-Asik falls.

How to get to Asik-Asik Falls

Before we delve into the details of our buwis-buhay adventure, let met give you key points when going to Asik-Asik falls. Bear in mind that since I’m a proud son of Midsayap, I will be using Midsayap as the starting point. If you have questions on how to reach Midsayap, you can ask in the comments section.

Type of Payment

Amount

Double-tire Jeep (Midsayap to Alamada proper)* – 45-minute travel

 Php70/head

Habal-habal (Alamada proper to Upper Dado and vice versa) – 1-hour (super bumpy) travel

 Php300/head

Tourist Registration Fee (Upper Dado Brgy. Hall)

 Php30/head

For an audio-visual perspective, check out Tim & Glo’s Asik-Asik Youtube Vlog. They went to Asik-Asik Falls last January 2015 with this blog as their reference.

*This information is based on what I know is the current prevailing rate as we did not experience the double tire jeepney ride first-hand. We rode a private vehicle from Midsayap to Alamada. The actual rate may vary.

I would like to thank Mr. Gasmin (Vincent’s dad) for driving us from Midsayap to Alamada and back. That was really generous of you, Sir!

Caution: Going to Asik-Asik Falls is serious business. Definitely a journey not for the faint at heart.

***August 23, 2014, Saturday, One Day before I turn 27.***

Our day started at 7AM at Jollibee where we bought our lunch to-go for the activity ahead. My companions going to Asik-Asik were Kaye, Rodhel (my older brother) and my 5-year old sister, Baby Lou. Vince and his brother arrived shortly and after we were done ordering our food, our ride to Alamada started. We arrived at Alamada after a 40-minute drive. Along the highway (near the public market), you will see a mini habal-habal terminal (a.k.a. skylab, single motor) bound for Asik-Asik (look for the ASODA tarp signage). This was where we negotiated with the habal-habal drivers for our ride to Asik-Asik. The rate we got was Php300/head back-and-forth.

Blogger’s Tip: It’s more convenient to bring ready-to-eat food to Asik-Asik rather than bringing fresh meat and cooking on-site. There are no barbecue grills for you to use unless you bring them yourselves (and I seriously discourage that). Don’t forget to bring water and other snacks as there are also no sari-sari stores to be found on-site.

Habal-habal: our mode of transport for the day

Habal-habal: our mode of transport for the day

The (literal) Rocky Road/s of Alamada

Although it’s a bit pricey for a motorcycle ride, note that going to Asik-Asik is not your ordinary kind of land travel. The travel time from Alamada proper to the Asik-Asik jump-off point (located at Upper Dado) can reach up to 1 hour (one way) and the terrain and road conditions may be the worst you will see in your entire life. Unpaved roads, big rocks laying on muddy terrain, lots of “bangin” on the roadside and then some. Trust me when I say that the habal-habal ride to and from Asik-Asik was THE rockiest motorcycle ride I’ve ever experienced.

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Tourist registration near Upper Dado Brgy. Hall

After about 30 minutes of butt-numbing motorcycle action, we reached the Brgy. Hall of Upper Dado. Tourists must stop here to register and pay the necessary Php30.00 “entrance” fee to Asik-Asik. Note that this is just the first half of the habal-habal ride!

If the road condition from Alamada to Upper Dado was bad, wait until you experience the terrain going up to the jump-off point to Asik-Asik. The dirt roads become steeper, the rocks laying around seem bigger and the ravines at the side look deeper. There was even an instance where Kaye and I got off from the habal-habal because the driver can’t maneuver the motorcycle properly due to the gravitational pull. Hey, I’m not trying to discourage you or anything, but that’s the real score when going to Asik-Asik. Ah, the risks we take for the love of travel.

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After an hour of nerve-wracking habal-habal ride, we finally reached the Asik-Asik Tourism Center a.k.a the jump-off point to the falls. Don’t worry about your ride back to Alamada as the drivers will wait for you here (hence the higher than usual motorcycle fee). Tourists will have to travel by foot from this point on going to the falls.

Descent to Paradise

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At this point, our feet were already starting to shake due to the force exerted during the habal-habal ride. You will get what I mean when you experience it first-hand. After shaking off some muscle pain and dust, we commenced our long walk down to the waterfalls.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Since Asik-Asik falls was only recently discovered back in 2012, the path going down to the falls has not yet been fully developed by the LGU or the provincial government. The descent to the falls consist of soil paths and a paved stairway starting at the midway point of the walk and will accumulate to an estimated total of 500 steps. That’s a lot of burnt calories right there. Senior citizens, people with serious medical conditions and pregnant women, among others, are discouraged for obvious health reasons.

Get your feet/sandals/shoes ready to be soiled

Get your feet ready to be soiled

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15 minutes in and I’m already starting to feel leg pains. This trek is definitely not made for everyone.

Blogger’s Tip: Wear breathable and comfortable clothes! More likely than not, it will be a warm sunny day when you go down to the falls (there are no trees to provide shade). Avoid over-packing. Only bring things that you need for the day’s activity to minimize your load. You will need all your strength for the long walk going to the falls and vice versa. 

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Long winding track of paved stairs

Asik-Asik’s Different Kind of Charm

Trekking for roughly 25 minutes, we finally reached the majestic Asik-Asik falls! One gaze at the stunning, curtain-like waterfalls is enough to make you realize that the time, money and effort needed to get here is very much WORTH IT. And that’s a good thing.

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That first glimpse of awesome though…

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We’re here!

After ogling the falls for a couple of minutes, we settled at the benches on top of the hill facing the waterfalls. Since we arrived there a bit early (we arrived at 9:30AM), we got first dibs on the best seats of the house. A major perk for being at the top of the hill is the panoramic view of the falls. Makes you really appreciate the beauty of Asik-Asik even more.

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Some acting required

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Sweet naks!

Setting aside our belongings and gearing up with our swimming attires, we then immersed ourselves into the fresh and cool waters Asik-Asik had to offer. The flowing water from the falls is VERY COLD. The waters in Asik-Asik, in my opinion, is cooler than the ones found in Sto. Nino Cold Springs in Camiguin. While the waters can be very cold, it certainly makes for a very refreshing dip!

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This is her second visit to Asik-Asik. She’s only five years old.

The water flow may seem weak due to the curtain-like structure of the waterfalls. However, don’t be fooled by this as the current at the bottom of the falls can be quite strong. Do keep an eye if you have kids with you.

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My brother taking the plunge

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The unbelievably cold and crystal clear waters of Asik-Asik

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For profile picture purposes. This photo was taken using a monopod*.

*The proper way to use a monopod is to make it seem that you’re NOT using a monopod. It’s not hard, people!

Being the adrenaline junkies that we are (and to capture interesting photos), Kaye and I decided to go up on one of the steps of the falls. It was challenging to go up because of the strong water flow and the uneven wall of rocks but we eventually made our way to higher ground.

Our version of the Ice Bucket challenge (to be fair, the water is really icy cold)

Our version of the Ice Bucket challenge (to be fair, the water was really icy cold)

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Couple shot behind the curtains

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Of course, I wouldn’t miss the chance of taking lots of photos of the falls so I took the liberty of shooting from all angles. Hehe. What I liked the most about Asik-Asik is it’s rawness. It’s a good thing that the place hasn’t been heavily developed yet; it certainly helps in preserving the natural awesomeness the falls intrinsically exudes. We can only hope and pray that the place will maintain its natural grandeur and beauty and will not be destroyed by the greedy doings of man, mainly commercialism.

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Shutter Priority mode does the trick for that flowing waterfall effect

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The other side of the falls

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After taking lunch and some last-minute appreciation of the wonders of Asik-Asik falls, it was now time to face the daunting task of leaving and climbing our way back up the treacherous mountain trail. This was when we realized that going down to the falls was the “easy” part. It was the climb back up to the jump-off point that was the real challenge.

Blogger’s Tip: After eating lunch (or any meal for that matter), take your time before going back up to the Tourism Center in order for your food to be digested properly. Let’s just say someone from our group learned this the hard way. I assure you that he won’t be looking at a Jolly Spaghetti the same way again. 😉

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Push mo ‘yan! (literally)

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It’s the climb

Calling our climb back to the top “exhausting” may not fully encapsulate the feelings we had. The steep stairs coupled with the scorching afternoon heat of the sun made for a very hellish journey back to civilization. The end result of this climb? Leg pains, body aches and sore thighs for at least 3 days. Alaxan FR ain’t got nothing on you, Asik-Asik.

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The wonderful countryside view was just a consolation prize to the tiring march to the top

Blogger’s Tip: Bring a scarf/bandana/towel to use as cover for your head and face. Don’t push yourself too hard to finish the climb quickly. If you are feeling tired, stop, take a breather and rest. Rushing up to the top will not help.

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Time sa…

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Ang tungkod sa kanunay’ng panabang (cane of perpetual help)

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The struggle within

I really wished Kaye and I did jogging rounds to physically prepare ourselves for Asik-Asik. I really had a hard time climbing up and was the last person in our group to reach the top. Talk about insult to injury. Haha. We’ll know how to deal better with Asik-Asik’s trail IF we decide to come back. That’s a big IF.

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Vince, I know that feel.

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Ready for another buwis-buhay habal-habal ride?

With a big sigh of relief, we finally reached the Tourism Center. We rested for a little while to calm ourselves after the physical beating that we took courtesy of the climb that we had to endure. After that, it’s off to another hellacious habal-habal ride and a tiring but fulfilling travel back home.

After our Asik-Asik experience, it’s never more clear that man-made attractions really do pale in comparison to God’s natural works of art. It’s time we appreciate nature more. -rod-

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25 comments

  1. Asik-asik Falls is gorgeous! Kaso ang layo… but the pain, long trek and sun burn worth the majestic sight. Sana the local government will work more for it’s accessibility.

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    1. It really is a wonder of nature. And yes, I hope the government will double time on accessibility improvements of the place. Then again, there’s a huge part of me that wishes the falls to remain as relatively “untouched” as possible so as not to succumb to people’s greed and capitalism. Let’s hope for the best. 🙂

      Like

  2. Rod! Rein ito hehe. Wow! Wish bam and I could go there. Sobrang lapit lang hehe. Pero with how you described your ordeal going to and from, as a mom, I got curious and anxious at the same time.. how did a 5 yr old survive it all? And to think twice pa? Amazing hehe.

    P.S. I’ll shop at zalora na! Hehehe

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    1. Hi Rein! Hahaha. Actually, mas madali sa toddlers mag trekking kasi wala pa silang adult body pains. Haha. For sure kaya nyo punta dun ni Bam. Jogging muna kayo a week before para prepared. Hehe. Thanks in advance sa pag patronize sa Zalora!

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  3. i’ve visited the place last week and it was amazing! i’ve seen improvement on the road and bridge as well. worth a visit and planning for my next.

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  4. i’ve talked to one locals there after asking where the water is coming from (you’ll see a stream flowing before reaching the asik-asik falls). he said that there’s another falls on the other side and it was forbidden to public. he said the falls is like 5 storey high and considered more ‘tawhan’ or enchanted. some people will come and bring containers to get water, as they say, it heals different illnesses.

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  5. hi rod..

    your write up seems exciting.. We are planning to visit the majestic asik2 this saturday, just want to ask is it safe nowadays? Of course, safety is our main concern.. hope to hear from you.. Thank you…

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    1. Hi Ms. Alma. It’s generally peaceful around Midsayap and Alamada towns of North Cotabato and I’ve not been getting any security concerns from my family back in Midsayap. Thanks for reading!

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    1. North Cotabato is still a pretty conservative place, moreso in the far-flung barrios so I would suggest to just skip the bikinis and just wear your trusty board shorts and rash guard instead.

      You wouldn’t want to disturb the fairies and nymphs, would you? 🙂

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  6. Hello, your blog about asik-asik is interesting. We have a plan to visit it this coming weekend.
    Magkano ang fare back in fort from midasayap.?

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  7. Oh my god, that falls is majestic! I didn’t know there is such a place until today. I watched the Vlog of Tim and Glo so I learned your blog from them. I will definitely get my ass in Cotabato and see Asik Asik.

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  8. Hi Rod,

    Thank you for sharing your detailed account and those helpful tips with Asik Asik, I think this is the most realistic blog I read about Asik Asik Falls and helped me to mentally prepare for the trip.

    Two Thumbs Up!

    Will be visiting that by June this year with the gang. Is it ok to ask if there are travel inns in Libungan? or is it really recommended to lodge in Midsayap?

    Cheers and God bless.

    Like

    1. Hi Jan. Thanks for the kind words on my blog.

      As to your accommodations, I would highly recommend staying in Midsayap rather than in Libungan since I don’t think Libungan has that much choices as to inns. With Midsayap, there are several to choose from (Park Inn, Novo Hotel, White Hut, Hotel Angelo). Midsayap is farther from Alamada compared to Libungan but I think the convenience equates that.

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  9. Hi po! Planning to visit Asik Asik next month… Ask lng if habal-habal lang ba ang the only way to the falls, o pwede ang private vehicle?

    Thank you very much!😊

    Like

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