An invite from a friend brought me to the mountains of Alamada in North Cotabato in search of “Asik-Asik”- a falls that was recently rediscovered and is taunted to be one of the awesomest nature-wonder in this part of Mindanao. This region in North Cotabato had a ”reputation” of having unpredictable peace and order situation which probably scared off a number of potential tourists going to this place. We have been planning explore this place several times before, but it never materialised. When a local assured us though, it’s safe there in Dado, Alamada we wasted no time and sneaked out of our desks and head on to Alamada.
How we got there:
Upper Dado Alamada, North Cotabato is an eight hours, butt numbing ride from my place, in Tacurong City. I travelled thru the Tacurong-Kabacan- Midsayap route (there’s another via Isulan Cotabato-Midsayap), then riding a jeep from Midsayap to Upper Dado Alamada. This jeep courses thru the mountain roads Alamada and at one point, wades through a huge river to get to the Alamada side from Midsayap. Generally, it’s a rough ride, transferring from one bus to another, or jeep to another jeep. If you travel by car, I suggest you leave it in Midsayap since the road going to Alamada is very rough, with rocks and boulders littering the road in most of the unpaved road. That huge river I mentioned swells in a blink of an eye during heavy rains, so I doubt if it’s safe to traverse that in a small sized vehicle.
It was almost three o’clock when we reached our host’s house in Upper Dado. Asik-Asik Falls, which is actually located in Sitio Dulao, Upper Dado, is still 45 minutes ride uphill by motorcycle and another hour or so of trek downhill. This 45 minute habal-habal ride is equivalent to a daunting 3-4 hours of trek during heavy rains, as the road turn into a mudslide preventing motorcycles to pass by. It did rain that afternoon so we stayed in our host’s place for the night and opted to start the trek the next day.
We were on the road by 8am the next day, with Erick leading the way. Erick is our main guide in Alamada. He goes to Asik-Asik Falls on almost daily basis as he maintains a farm nearby. We were lucky the road quickly dried up that morning enabling motorcycles to pass uphill enroute to Sitio Dulao. The road side view in the hills of Alamada is pretty astounding.
You can feel the cold breeze cold side even if the sun is already up. Lush green, upland rice and maize are still grown by farmers even if its summer already. On the north side you can see Mt. Akir-Akir, another mountain I hopefully would be able to trek in the future.
We arrived at the jump off site by 9am, readily registered at the local tourism booth, then started our downhill trek via the “376 steps”- stairway to paradise. I am not exaggerating when I say this is one hell of a tiring trek, because I’m damn sure it is. But if this will be what’s on the other end of your tiring trek, would you turn back?
What to expect:
I was tongue tied and awestruck by the paradise that greeted us upon entering the fall’s perimeter. This awesome sight now hides no more as I am about to gaze into its grandeur. I’ve been to a number of falls in this part of the Philippines, but Asik-Asik Falls just grabbed the top most of my wow-list! The long trip, the tiring hikes, its all worth it! I’m still groping for words to describe this wonder so I’ll just share some of my photos of Asik-Asik Falls.
We stayed in Asik-Asik Falls as much as we could, roughly around 4 hours or so. Four hours is still not enough to take photos and enjoy the awesome spring falls at the same time. This is the first time I’ve seen such spring falls so you probably guess the beamer in my face. The crystal clear water is incomparable to any other falls I’ve been. Some believe the water from Asik-Asik Falls has healing powers. One thing I’m sure of, it definitely quenched my thirst after that mile long downhill trek!
On side note, I like the way the local government “developed” the place near the spring falls. All mini tables were made of wood, was built on a high ground and away from the spring bank. No cottages were built inside the premises and overnight camping is not allowed in the area. It is illegal to cook or bring alcoholic drinks there. There’s a maintenance guy who immediately clean up a rented place once the occupants leave. Trees were maintained and serve us ground cover. I hope those managing this place will preserve it the it was seen during its rediscovery and not follow the path of commercialism that whacked some awesome falls I knew.
I was kinda saddened when we were about to leave, surely I’ll miss this awesome spring falls. But I will be back here that for sure. We back trailed our way to the jump off site where our service motorcycles are parked. If you think going down Asik-Asik is tiring, try hiking up using the 376 stairs! There’s a “rescue’ horse halfway thru the stairs should you feel like fainting. But make sure you look around the scenery while hiking up. The astounding view alleviates some of the gasping and panting you make going up!
Other areas to explore:
There’s another falls that is being taunted in Alamada town- Daday Falls . This unscheduled trip didn’t permit us to arrange ahead of time, a guided trek to that place. For security reasons, we were advised not to, yet, by our local guide. I promised though, I’d be back in Alamada to see this falls.
After Asik-Asik Falls, we side tripped to Libungan River on our way home. Again, I’m just simply awed by how much this town is blessed with natural waterscapes.
There’s a ready picnic place in every corner of this town!
We went to visit a camp in Alamada, reportedly a training ground for elite military men in Mindanao. It looks abandoned now with just the two towering 105mm howitzers visible on the field or are the occupants there, just “trained” not to be seen?
PREVIOUS CONCERNS, JUNKED!
- Safety concerns: I didn’t feel any threat to my safety during my stay there. So from that, I can tell its very safe for tourists/backpackers to go there. Just coordinate ahead with the local tourism officer.
- Housing/Campsite: You can either stay in Upper Dado proper or camp at the jump off site just above Asik-Asik Falls.
- Transportation: Mainly by Habal-Habal or single motorcycle on rough road. Hiking when roads are very slippery during rains.
- Food: Plenty of vegetables in Upper Dado! Upland (brown) rice also abundant. Heaven for vegetarians. Fish and meat also available.
- Communication: Mobile phone signals are variable, oftentimes non-existent.
I am very much grateful to our hosts who willingly showed us how hospitable the people of Upper Dado Alamada are. They are one of the kindest hosts I’ve met so far in my entire hiking adventures! Thank you. I really enjoyed my stay there.
Here’s a photo of the the author who obviously couldn’t resist the urge to take a self portrait with Asik-Asik Falls in the background! I’d be uploading more of my pictures in my photoblog twelveinchesbehind.com so stay tuned on this blog for updates. Please, please don’t grab my photos or post it anywhere else without my permission! You may share this blog post link on your social media accounts though. Better yet, go there and enjoy the wonder yourself. You’d be helping the local tourism industry too!