The "secret" of Asik-asik Falls went public just over a year ago, thanks largely to social media. I remembered being amazed looking at the photos on my screen: thin veils of water gushing forth from behind a green wall. I have seen countless waterfalls but this one is truly surreal and one of a kind.
"Asik" literally means "sprinkle" in the local dialect. Regardless of whether is dry or wet season, the volume of water remains relatively constant - always this fine veil.
Unlike most waterfalls where you have a stream or river that eventually drops down over a ridge, this one had it in reverse: you have a falls that makes the river below. There are no rivers and streams on top, in fact its mostly farmland above the trough where the river runs through. So where do the waters come from? Probably from an elevated water table. So technically Asik-asik could be a series of springs.
I used the word "main" because there are other waterfalls both upstream and downstream that are of similar configuration. During this trip we trekked to another smaller one just a "few minutes" upstream. Ten minutes, our guides assured us. It turned out to be 1.5 hours of bushwhacking.
The local government wasted no time improving the road leading to Upper Dado where the road is. A concrete steep stairway was constructed to make it easier for visitors to trek down to the river some 500 steps below. The place obviously has huge tourism potential, but today it is still relatively off-the-beaten track and quite difficult to get to.
planning your trip to asik-asikHere are some of the things you'll need to consider if you are planning a trip to Asik-asik.
- Security. While Alamada is relatively peaceful, the highway going to Alamada passes through some of the conflict areas. I am familiar with the area enough to know that you should avoid nightfall catching you on the road while passing through some of the towns there (I grew up in the neighboring province of South Cotabato)
- Jump-off point in Lower Dado. The jump-off point is the Lower Dado and this is where you register as well. From the town of Alamada, its still at least 10km of mostly rough road going to Lower Dado. Its possible for a van or SUV to get to Lower Dado, but would be quite difficult for a car. They have a parking area for vehicles right in front of their barangay hall.
- Road going to Upper Dado. Muddy and can turn into a small river when it rains. Extremely dusty on dry months. You can either hire jeep (expensive and slow) or hop on one of the habal-habal (motorcycle, and be prepared for one heck of a ride)
- The fastest way to get to Upper Dado is via habal-habal. You can rent one from Lower Dado for 200 pesos (one way). You know that the road is that bad when your driver starts putting mud chains on the tires. There are sections of the road where you have no choice but to walk. It rained hard in the afternoon on the way back to Lower Dado and I must say its one hell of a ride going down a mountain on a road that looked more like a river. On dry months the road can turn very dusty, with the mud turning into heaps of brown powder.
- Overnight in Alamada. There is a small resort called "Hidden Resort" in Lower Dado. Its not fancy but with clean rooms and a nice pool. You may contact this number to inquire: +63-926-4314948
- Camping. There is a camping ground in Upper Dado at the trail head.
- Cellphone signal. Intermittent, even on the main highway. Surprisingly there is coverage right in Asik-asik Falls.
- Nearest airports. Cotabato (just several towns away), General Santos (about 5 hours away from Alamada), and Davao City. These are the 3 options if you are flying to Mindanao.
- Day trip. Possible, even from General Santos and Davao, but you need to hire a van. You'll need at least 1 day for travel time if you are commuting.
And the view at the end of the trip is certainly worth all the trouble.