Don’t tell my parents that I’ll be in Zamboanga.
Don’t tell my parents that I’ll be in Basilan.
And in August of 2014
Don’t tell my parents that I am all alone at Cotobato.
Despite the bad news we are hearing from the radio; watched and read in our daily primetime newscast and newspaper; I still wanted to go in those places. Not because that I am a hardcore traveler or a suicidal adventurer; but because of what I can see in those places. Yeah I must admit that it was a risk but I don’t mind it.
Donde Si Jep’s way:
A day before my trip, I had a lot of change of plans and routes. I am not a kind of traveler who always had a written itinerary or any hotel resevations prior to my trips. So thanks for the help of my friends namely Glen of Escape Manila, Mow Kalim and Gerald Germones, somehow I had a route.
Spent a night in Garden City of Samal with Jay, Glen, Mark and Rubi, again not my original plan but because its Jay’s birthday so I decided to with them. Overnight, I finally decided that I will go to Cotobato City. But wait there’s more; it’s not a final until I my feet landed over. From Sassa Wharf we get to SM City Davao – Ecoland, be sure not to be mislead by the other SM which is SM City Lanang. SM-Ecoland have the van terminal going to places to the direction of Midsayap and Cotobato City. Took our late lunch in one of the restaurant inside the mall,had the our farewells, and now I’m all alone to continue my adventure, not in Cotobato City but in Midsayap, North Cotobato. (where Asik-Asik Falls is nearest).I have a feeling that I should be in the area before too late at night because of what my friend suggestions are and what the hell the our taxi driver said about Cotobato. So I approached the van driver and the barker (the one who call for passengers), if there will be an accomodation in Midsayap around the terminal where the double tire jeepneys are in. They said Yes, alot. They assured me that it will be safe. Luckily I am the last passenger, and usually it takes hours 4 hours waiting time in ordinary day. Its holiday tomorrow so the people are going to their hometowns.
Don’t cha worry Child.
I paid 290 pesos for the fare from Davao City to Midsayap crossing. Leave the SM Ecoland at 3:45pm. While on transit, a girl beside me ask me if I am sure that I will go to Asik-Asik Falls. And I answered her gasping YES. Hahaha. She discussed me a lot of matters and giving me some points of how will to be in Asik-Asik. Her name is Kathy, she is from Dado, Alamada, North Cotobato. Even Kathy have to sleepover with her Aunty because there are no available public transportation going to Dado in the afternoon. She took away my worries about Cotobato. She said that even that Asik-Asik Falls is just few kilometers away from their home, she haven’t been there.” It will take a lot of effort for me.” she said. We just had one pitstop in Kidapawan City, and I bought there some chips because I know its gonna be along drive.
***last trip of vans usually is upto 5pm but be sure to have the earlier depart because of chance of cancellation of trip. And buses are available at the Ecoland Bus Terminal.
Midsayap, North Cotobato.
As we arrived at around 8:30pm at the junction of Midasayap, drivers of motorcycles and habal-habal are around and offering for a ride. So Kathy said it will be better if I will be going with her, and she will just drop me in one of the hotel near the market. Van terminal is few meters away from where I dropped. To describe the situation of Alamada, it was too much different from what other people had said about Cotobato. There’s a Jollibee LOL! Colleges students are around and its more lively than in Bagac, Bataan. A ten peso ride upto Hotel Angelo. A lot of accommodation around the area, but I am so dead tired so I don’t want to explore anymore. Hotel Angelo’s rate for single standard aircon room is 650, with cable TV and H&C shower. 650 will be too expensive for me, so I asked for a discount, but she said she’s not the owner so she can’t have a discount for me. But I don’t give up, had a conversation again, asked informations, and used a charisma. Viola!!! “Teka nga, tawagan ko si Doc.” Having their conversation in bisaya, I have understood some and finally the owner allow me to just pay 500php. Wi-Fi connection is good even inside the room. And I also asked the guard and the receptionist if they have any contact of a habal-habal driver that willing to service me up to Asik-Asik Falls. Prepare for a sleep. Tomorrow is another day!
It’s Adventure Time.
A phone call from the guard woke me up. He told me that he contacted his neighbor named Jun (0907-624-8459). I get down and started to bargain. The rate of the habal-habal ride two way from Midsayap – Asik-Asik Falls is 1000-1500php. But because of tight competition of habal-habal ride, I got his service for 800php. So the deal is on, so I ate my breakfast in one of the 39ers eatery. many foodstals and Halal eatery are around because there is a university and muslim community nearby. Back to hotel and pack my things. Its impossible to be back in Hotel around 12noon-checkout so I just bring my things with me (a 35lit bag for 5 full days).
How to get to Asik-Asik Falls
My 800php can be cut to almost half if I will take a public transpo, but I am more valuing the time more than just the price I will be saved. So its up to you what will you choose.
1. As Kathy (my seatmate last night) and the hotel receptionist had told me. I can ride a jeepney (double tire) that is carrying a lot of supplies from the Market of Midsayap to Dado, Alamada. Usually take 1-2 hours(around 170,might be a topload ride), a lot of stop over before to get there. Then from Dado you will take a habal-habal ride, but they didn’t mention for the price because they haven’t been there. Jeepneys start to leave the Midasayap at around 9am-10:30am. That’s why its hard to get back in Midsayap on the same day because of limited public transportation they have.
2. Another option is to ride a double tire jeep to Alamada, then habal-habal again upto Dado, then again habal-habal again or you may deal again to your driver if they willing to go all the way to Asik-Asik Falls. Forgive me I forgot to write down the rates.
3. A two hour habal-habal ride from Midasayap to Asik-asik Falls vice versa.
*Sign boards are seen saying. Registration of the tourist going to Asik-Asik Falls is at the Municipal Hall of Alamada, but I don’t read about this before so we just continue to the falls, and there’s also a registration, but they didn’t issue a receipt. But if you already have the receipt of registration from Municipal you will just log your name in their record book. Fee: P40php (not sure).
Donde Si Jep: Asik-Asik Falls
From hotel, we leave at around 8am and filled the single motor with 200php gas. The motor is a big and can ride upto 3 passengers. My driver is in full gear so Kuya Jun is ready for a ride. LOL.
Short talks and ass numbing ride, he is wearing a helmet so it’s hard to talk to him and he need to focus on the road. 60% of the road we traveled are in concrete, and sort of mud and bumpy along the way. As we travel I can feel the cooling breeze of air, the roads becoming less populated by cars and trucks, big jeepneys with full of loads upto the top. The sunshine is blocked by the clouds and the views becoming greener and greener. Getting nearer to Dado, Alamada, the roads are becoming more bumpy and after passing the school and market; the mud and rocky road going up the hills and mountains was so intense. Two hours! Past 10am when we finally arrived to the registration site. Relaxed myself for couple of minutes, sign up and go. I just let my driver rest so I went down alone. The trail is easy and passing by a convenient store/house then a Gate, the arrow pointing in some other direction so I got lost for a moment
(natawa ako sa arrow).
Getting down, you can see the greeny landscape, can hear the pounding water. Erosion are seen, and the stairs. I took maybe 10 mins to get down on that stairs. I hate this kind of trail walks.
“Ay ang ganda pala talaga!”. WOWed twice. Its bigger what it looks like in the pictures. Like a water walls. It’s unique feature is truly a world class. As I approached the falls I can see now the other visitors (local). There is a wood table ifront of the falls and can be use free of charge. There is a small sari-sari store but only limited refreshment is sold. Water from the free flowing faucet is drinkable. Usually the people who come here were the locals from Midsayap and nearby and very few foreigners are going here maybe because of the news. Oldies and kiddos are all enjoying the falls, the rapids are not that strong so its safe for the kids, but should be guarded by parents/guardian at all times.
The place is guarded by the Barangay Tanods about two of them, wearing uniforms and a jungle bolo with them.
Photo ops are okay so I need now the obligatory selfies and portraits. So I asked someone to have me picture on a certain portion of the fall. Had small talk and she was surprised that I am from Manila and solely had my adventure in Cotobato. She asked me if I am not afraid from what I heard and seen about Cotobato. I gave her smile (pacute lol) and answered: “Wala naman po ako ginagawang kasalanan sa kanila, kaya hindi ako dapat matakot.”. replied me “ Tama yan, enjoy mo lang. Tapang mo ah”. Continue with the phot ops and said my farewell to the falls and to the one stranger I’ve talked to. I stayed there for 45minutes.
And the heat is on!
If I can only stay on the canopy of the Asik Asik Falls until afternoon but I have to go and explore the Cotobato City before sunset. 30 minutes of extensive heat while climbing up the man made stairs. As I went up I’ve talked to some of the visitors going down the falls and one of the remarkable is that Muslim mom. She talked to me in Bisaya, maybe she thought I am a bisaya, I answered her because it was just a common questions that I am prepared to answer. But a follow up question is too hard to understand so I said “Tagalog po ako.. haha.” She just asked if the falls is beautiful and if there’s a picnic tables. LOL nahuli ako! Again she asked me where I came from, why I’m alone and why I am not afraid. Same questions, same answers, over and over again. She said her goodbyes: “Sige na, and enjoy mo ang Mindanao.”. Sweet words! I also encountered a two teens, who also asked a question in Bisaya, but I’m too busy breathing in exhaustion. So I ask them in Tagalog, again the questions lol. And she said, I should waited for her. It’s just a joke but patola ako, “OO nga sayang, next time may puntahan pa kasi ako.”
Finally I’m backed to the registration site. After a while we headed back to Midsayap, but I aske him to stop over in a eatery because I am so hungry and I feel so tired. We stopped at Alamada and treat him a lunch. Gas up the motorcycle again worth 100php, so a total of 300php and gave my balance of 500ph. And then ask him to drop me in the van terminal going to Cotobato City, where my next adventure is awaiting.