NSOCCSKSARGENM: NORTH COTABATO’s Asik-Asik Falls

IMG_0806

ASIK ASIK FALLS of Alamada, North Cotabato💚 The most secluded & best waterfalls lies at the lower slope of Mt. Ragang (Blue Mountain-active volcano). Asik-asik Falls is located at Sitio Dulao, Upper Dado, Alamada, Cotabato. ALAMADA was named after the brave hero Datu Amaybulok Alameda. He fought against the foreign invaders and summoned hundreds of his men from the south.

IMG_0819

I have to show you this funny looking local transportation in Cotabato. So far, it is the second fascinating sidecar I have seen. First is Pagadian’s unique tricycle.

HOW TO GET THERE?
🛬Fly to Cotabato Airport, 🚍Van to Midsayap 🚜motorbike to Upper Dado and walk the flight of stairs heading to the secret waterfalls

You may include the neighboring provinces in your itinerary, read along: NSOCCSKSARGENM: Sultan Kudarat NSOCCSKSARGENM: Lake Sebu and the T’boli Tribe

IMG_0822

TIPS AND REMINDERS:

  1. I wouldn’t recommend Asik-Asik falls to solo travellers as it is a secluded tourist spot. It would be best to form a group of 6 or more and feel safer. Get a reliable and legit contact. Always register at designated tourism offices or barangay hall for security.
  2. It is quite a hike. From Midsayap, the road is unfinished, steep and muddy especially if it rains. Although there are public jeepneys heading to Upper Dado, I suggest you hire a private vehicle. In our case we took an equipped 4×4 to mount the North. A motorbike would be the fastest mode of transportation yet safety is not guaranteed due to the unfenced, clay road. You will also notice that tires are chained to give them a better grip on the slippery road.
  3. Waterproof your gadgets and money, bring clothes post bathing and a pair of slippers.
  4. Wear your sturdy hike boots preferably high cut, gore-tex with great sole grip.
    Even the chained tires of 4×4 couldn’t reach it nor a habal-habal (motorcycle/skylab as they refer) so we had to climb BAREFEET in the muddy trail for hoursđŸ»Â and face the unpredictable rain.
  5. Bring trail food. I love making my own mix of corn bits, green peas, raisins, M&M’s, nuts and sometimes jelly beans. It serves as fuel and emergency food along the trek.  Put it in ziplock and partition according to the days of your trip in Mindanao. Don’t forget your drinking water. There aren’t potable water source, just a small store at the registration area and a few wild berries while trekking.

Since my visit in 2016, it has then become the most popular tourist attraction in North Cotabato and neighboring provinces. The grand curtain of waterfalls is said to be the product of earthquake while some believe that nature took its course through time and produced the majestic 130-meter of fine waterfalls. Enjoy the cold water and don’t forget to leave no trace of non-biodegradables. Prepare to get dirty, stumble and fall!

IMG_0825

” I’ve seen the majestic beauty of nature and the overwhelming perfection of it. To me, there is nothing closer to God than that.”

-Cote de Pablo

Advertisements

NSOCCSKSARGENM: Sultan Kudarat

IMG_0758

This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with my venturous friends. It woudn’t have been possible without the people who helped us as these places are known to be risky for tourists.

IMG_0785

HOW TO GET THERE SAFELY? Fly from Manila to General Santos City then head to the bus terminal leading to Koronadal City. Ask for a connecting bus to Sultan Kudarat’s capital which is Isulan. Otherwise, you may begin your itinerary with South Cotabato’s Lake Sebu in the morning (see my related post), then take a van to Surallah in the afternoon and explore the area, lastly ride a trike or van to Isulan and look for a local hostel within the city. You may Also stay overnight at Lake Sebu: NSOCCSKSARGENM: Lake Sebu and the T’boli Tribe

IMG_0786

IMG_0787

You will notice that Mindanao has a strong cultural significance as depicted in every park or rotonda.

Take note that there aren’t much modern restaurants in Sultan Kudarat but you can find a number of grilled meat along the streets of the city center. Very unusual in Luzon, they stick them on banana shoot/trunk like this in most parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

 IMG_0761

NSOCCSKSARGENM stands for our DIY trip: North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, General Santos and Maguindanao. See my other posts on every province in these links: NSOCCSKSARGENM: NORTH COTABATO’s Asik-Asik Falls

The province was named after the courageous Muslim hero who conquered many parts of the Philippines from the Spaniards. He is considered as the greatest Sultan of Maguindanao and most powerful person in Mindanao during his time. Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat lived between 1581-1671. He died at 90 out of old age. He was declared as a national hero under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos.

The 7th sultan of Maguindanao, Sultan Muhammad Kudarat’s legacy is honored in every part of the province. Visit the provincial capitol and check out its grand and gold interior. 👑✹

exif_temp_image 2

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

-Mark Twain

 

TAWI-TAWI:the backdoor of the Philippines

IMG_0279IMG_0277

WHY VISIT TAWI-TAWI?

  • It is the southernmost part of the Philippines; part of the ARMM.
  • The oldest mosque in the Philippines is found here.
  • Interesting stilt houses stand in the sea.
  • The longest sandbar in the Philippines is Panampangan Island via Celebes Sea.

IMG_0281

Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao is the gateway to Tawi-Tawi. The safest way to get to Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi is via Cebu Pacific from Zamboanga City. Upon arrival, register at the Tourism office for safety reasons. It is best to have a local contact and arranged accommodation beforehand. Bongao city center is just a few minutes away, tricycles are everywhere.

IMG_0291IMG_0292

A. SIMUNUL ISLAND:  The distance of islands are quite far so when they say island hopping, it won’t be the typical boats we have in Luzon and Visayas. We took a private speed boat to Simunul Island and assisted by armed men. Notice that most household carry guns. We were advised to go home before sunset as they ususally shoot suspicious strangers from the sea.

IMG_0294IMG_0284IMG_0280

IMG_8301

so this is how it feels like to hug a 400-year-old-pillar!

Karim ul-Makhdum was an Islamic preacher/trader from Johor now known as Malaysia. He brought Islam in the year 1380 CE in this island. Just nearby is his fenced tomb believed to be the size of a giant man. Simunul is known as the “Dubai of the Philippines” due to the thousands of pilgrims from neighboring countries and Mindanao visiting the mosque. He established the Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque making it the cradle of Islam. This is now acknowledged as the oldest mosque in the Philippines located in Barangay Tubig Indangan, Simunul, Tawi-Tawi. The original mosque was burned so the pillars were reconstructed.  The four pillars from the 17th century are regarded as sacred and historic islamic artifacts said to be 400 years old. No wonder it has been declared as a National Historical Landmark and National Treasure.

IMG_0297

B. PANAMPANGAN ISLAND: Despite Tawi-tawi’s fearsome reputation, the most beautiful islands and longest sandbars are found here. Transportation outside Bongao is limited and off shore is dangerous so military escorts are provided. Panampangan is officially the Philippines’ longest sandbar. You can reach it in less than an hour via speed boat. This island is just barely shaded so better bring your essentials. The sand is powdery fine and white. It is one of the best I have been to, considering my habitual island hopping. This 3-km-long sandbar is also called Basibuli Shoal along  Celebes Sea. It is best to bring packed lunch as it is a secluded area and no potable water source.

IMG_0285IMG_0290IMG_0283

OTHER THINGS TO DO:

  • Check out the gigantic wooden ships being made by the locals. They are customized for Malaysian buyers that costs millions of pesos and atleast a year to accomplish by hand.
  • Look for some locals harvesting seaweed or drying them. Learn their ways of life.
  • Walk on stilt houses and check out the place where they found the controversial giant alligator.
  • Trek Bud Bongao/ Mount Bongao: The locals call it the Sacred mountain of Tawi-Tawi a pilgrim site for Christians and Muslims. It is the highest point for viewing Celebes Sea. It has 6 peaks of limestones and along the trail are Philippine macaques so this is not for the faint hearted.  Avoid bringing too much food and captivating gadgets that could hype their interest.
  • Go to Tawi-Tawi Provincial Capitol.
  • Check out the wet market for the most peculiar and giant seafood at a very low price. Have it cooked on your homestay.
  • The Philippine Turtle Islands: This is still on my bucketlist because it is a huge nesting ground of green turtles and a protected area by the government.
IMG_0274

Everything here is huge!

IMG_0278

made to order vessel

REMEMBER:

  1. Register at the Tourism office and do not go on your own off coast. Always ask for assistance.
  2. Most people are equipped with guns so avoid playing with them. Behave properly and respect their culture.
  3. It is best to stay indoors before sunset.
  4. Travel as a group. Do not wear revealing clothes as it is a conservative muslim territory.
  5. You may be surprise to witness improper waste disposals in the mainland especially in the stilt houses. Hold it and avoid arguements.

IMG_0298.jpg

“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen.”

-Benjamin Disraeli