When was the last time your heart was struck by the beauty of the place and long for the next rendezvous? A month ago? Or maybe few weeks since the last time you saw it? How did it make you feel that way? Is it its alluring beauty that captured your heart? Or did the place made you forget the otherworldly things? Of course, there’s a bunch of reasons that a two-page essay and words that are existing aren’t enough.
But one thing’s for sure. We long for the next rendezvous and we want to remake the feeling that tickled the little red pumping organ inside our chest. And once we are there, all the questions why we long for will always have an answer validated by the place.
OF LONG CHASE TO ASIK-ASIK FALLS
We woke up before the dawn of the night broke. The darkness slowly faded as the sun started to rise. Alight from an hour bus ride from Cotabato City, we were welcomed, not only by the morning provincial breeze of Cotabato but also with the swarm of excited as well as incited habal-habal drivers. Surely, Asik-Asik Falls made it to the map worth visiting bringing these drivers abuzz. And so, after haggling with our drivers, the longest habal-habal ride in my life yet has come.
The ride up was nothing short of exhilarating. We trod an almost never-ending cemented highways and mostly undeveloped barangay roads before reaching the emerging tourist attraction. It’s more than an hour journey, crammed into two small passenger seats on our way to the waterfalls. Riding up the unpaved roads, the tires crashing as my heart beats excitedly.
It was a very long ride. This, however, tested us to prove worthy of seeing this wonder of Cotabato. We sort of enjoyed the ride while basking in the glory of the December sun. We made most of the time appreciating the beautiful mountainscapes of Alamada, Cotabato. Hectares of cornfields of golden hue and banana plantation dressed both sides of the road. The vastness of these mountains will surely entertain the heart of a mountain soul. The idea is to feel the most alive and not die from boredom seconds after.
After hundreds of bumps and humps, we made it safely to the jumpoff area and managed to disembark. The cold air dominated the whole atmosphere that gave chilling sensation to our nasals. An early morning scene in this remote place felt exclusive. Then, we had a heartful breakfast at the nearby karenderya (food stall) with tangy strawberries as a side dish. From then on, it was all foot downhill to meet Asik-Asik Falls. The trek was absolutely easy even for beginners. Through the collective effort, not only by the tourism of Cotabato but also by each local, they managed to develop the cemented stair trail down to Asik-Asik Falls.
Not more than 30 minutes after, the sound of running water can be heard from the cemented pavement that had our hearts racing. Excitedly, we made our paces swifter downhill. The fragrant smell of the wildflowers thriving near Asik-Asik Falls had us welcomed, too. A little more trek down and the first glimpse of Asik-Asik Falls was in sight.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH ASIK-ASIK FALLS
Upon stepping on the last footholds of the stair, thriving bamboo plants formed an awning overhead greeted us and then the trail ended with a gushing river. The river is cold and refreshing as I was frolicking unto it. Scampering through the cold waters of the river, I ended up standing on a wooden log that acted as a makeshift bridge. There, I felt lit being surrounded by this wall of waterfalls on its full glory on an early morning.
The mist created from the falls looks so spellbinding while the evident rays of sunlight were piercing to the waterfalls. The beam of light hit the waterfalls at a perfect angle making an arch of a rainbow. Maybe there are no leprechauns or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a great find, but sure sometimes there’s a beautiful waterfall instead. Breathtaking white waters spitting from the walls and astonishing sight, kind of hitting the jackpot still.
As I draw myself closer to this little pocket of wonderment, my world opened up a little more. That’s when I was totally head over heels to this waterfalls. And by every second, I let this sense overtook my entire being. I know, everyone has been falling in love at some point of his or her life, but this is a different kind of love. Falling in love with this place fills up my heart with a sense of being home. It’s as if the entire universe conspired to help me find this place. Indeed, a home away from home.
It was surreal, a feeling I won’t be able to describe through any existing words in the world but definitely something I won’t forget. Hundreds of tiny waterfalls there that effortlessly ethereal have had my heart since I first took a glimpse of it. The gushing waters between the rocks and leaves sounded like love songs recited ever so tenderly. I was lost in my own whimsical fairytale idea of falling in love.
I couldn’t help myself with this feeling and took a dip in its freezing water. There, the idea of life resonates with me like a waterfall, it flows and waits for no one. We are a droplet of water in a stream that rushes, venturing to a quest each waking moment of our lives. Down the stream, we’ll meet other droplets and together we’ll enjoy the depths and shallows of this life. Much like finding genuine friendship and real love in this vast universe, we wait, let it flow, and ride its tides.
Afterward, we found ourselves preparing to leave as the local crowd was getting thicker. We only spent few hours before noon yet it wasn’t short of memories and still left an attachment. There are places we visit and we truly don’t want to leave. Places that captured our hearts and made our minds long for the second rendezvous. Places worth of long chase. Places worth falling in love. Place worth it all like Asik-Asik Falls.
HOW TO GET TO ASIK-ASIK FALLS
Asik-Asik Falls is a stunning work of art by our beautiful planet. This 140-meter wide white curtain of cascading waters keep abuzz the whole province since its discovery. Towering at mere 60 meters high, its walls are carpeted with different lush vegetation and green foliage. Located in Sitio Dulao of Barangay Upper Dado, Alamada, Cotabato, the nearest airport to get here would be Cotabato City Airport in Maguindanao province flying from Cebu, Manila, and Zamboanga City.
- Via Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao: From Cotabato City Airport, take a tricycle/payong-payong or habal-habal to the city’s bus/van terminal. The drivers don’t observe standard fare so it depends on you and your haggling skills with the driver. At the terminal, ride a bus/van (P58.00) bound for Davao City and alight on Libungan Public Market. Buses leave as early as 5 AM in the morning. Travel time is less than an hour. BY LOCAL JEEPNEY. If you have the luxury of time and on a tight budget, onboard to a local jeepney (P70.00) going to Brgy. Upper Dado proper. Travel time is 2.5 hours. Then transfer to habal-habal (P75.00) going to jump off area. Travel time is 30 minutes. BY HABAL-HABAL. This may be the best option there yet. Hire a habal-habal going directly to Asik-Asik Falls jumpoff. The fare would definitely depend on you and your haggling skills with the driver. You can close a deal for at least P700.00 roundtrip per ride, not per passenger. Travel time is more than an hour or less. While the former is the cheapest option there is, I would recommend the latter for it is the fastest and convenient way to save time.
- Via land travel: From General Santos City or Davao City or any neighboring provinces, take a bus or a van (P300.00-P350.00) bound for Midsayap, Cotabato. Travel time is 3-4 hours. From Midsayap, there are various options going to Asik-Asik Falls jumpoff area. BY LOCAL JEEPNEY. If you have the luxury of time and on a tight budget, onboard to a local jeepney (P70.00) going to Brgy. Upper Dado proper. Travel time is 2.5 hours. Then transfer to habal-habal (P75.00) going to jump off area. Travel time is 30 minutes. BY HABAL-HABAL. This may be the best option there yet. Hire a habal-habal going directly to Asik-Asik Falls jump off area. The fare would definitely depend on you and your haggling skills with the driver. You can close a deal for at least P700.00 roundtrip per ride, not per passenger. Travel time is more than an hour or less. While the former is the cheapest option there is, I would recommend the latter for it is the fastest and convenient way to save time.
Here’s a sample itinerary on chasing Asik-Asik Falls with Cotabato City as our starting point. We only spent the whole morning and started to ascend before noon. But you could opt to spend a whole day starting early in the morning. You could also spend a night at their designated camping grounds. Please coordinate with their tourism officer assigned for more queries.
- 04:00 AM: Wake up time.
- 05:25 AM: ETD to Libungan, Cotabato.
- 06:15 AM: ETA at Libungan Market.
- 06:35 AM: Going to Asik-Asik Falls jumpoff area.
- 07:30 AM: ETA at jumpoff area. Breakfast.
- 08:15 AM: Start trek downhill.
- 08:40 AM: Asik-Asik Falls.
- 11:10 AM: Going back to jump off area.
- 11:50 AM: Lunch at jumpoff area.
- 12:25 PM: ETD to Libungan.
- 01:40 PM: Libungan Market to Cotabato City
- 02:25 PM: ETA at Cotabato City.
Souvenirs, plane tickets, and other miscellaneous fees are not included.
- P58.00 — Bus Fare to Libungan
- P30.00 — Entrance
- P3.00 — Parking Fee (P15.00/5pax)
- P30.00 — Breakfast
- P40.00 — Lunch
- P30.00 — 1L water
- P34.00 — Driver’s Meals (P170.00/5pax)
- P57.00 — Bus Fare to Cotabato City
- P380.00 — Habal-Habal Fare (P1,900.00/5pax)
**Additional Parking Fees for — Motor: P5.00, Van: P25.00, Cars: P50.00**
- Please practice LNT principles. Asik-Asik Falls rose to fame through the collective effort, not only by the tourism of Cotabato but also by each local. Let’s help them preserve the natural gift of our beautiful planet. I encourage you to be responsible travelers. Please keep Asik-Asik Falls as beautiful as it is today for the next traveler behind you.
- Protect yourself. Wear arm sleeves if you don’t want to fry your skin. Bring an umbrella or any protective gears because the downhill trail is mostly uncovered. Please refrain from using chemical products for sun protection for it may alter the waterfalls’ ecosystem.
- Pack light. Bring only basic items. Bring at least one (1) liter of water, energy bars and/or first aid kit if necessary. There’s a small sari-sari store in the jumpoff area and in the nearby community where you can buy your consumables and meals.
- Follow the rules. It doesn’t hurt a bit. There are certain areas in Asik-Asik Falls that are off-limits and prohibited to visitors for safety purposes and for preservation reasons. There is a designated area only for swimming.
- ENJOY YOUR VISIT! Pull off a memorable experience.
**Shoutout to my friend, Wandering Feet PH, for taking my shots. **