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Storm parts curtains of mystery waterfalls

/ 10:06 PM May 24, 2012

ALAMADA, North Cotabato—Nature parted the curtains to reveal one of its long held secrets here in a process that took decades and one of the country’s fiercest storms to complete.

When Typhoon “Frank” destroyed what had been left of the vegetation that covered what people here now call Asik-Asik Falls, it also unlocked scenery that is as pretty as it is mysterious.

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Typhoon Frank, whose ferocity earned it alert level 3 and killed more than 500 people in Mindanao and the Visayas some two years ago, cleared all obstruction that deprived sightseers of Asik-Asik’s beauty for so long.

The waterfalls, whose name meant sprinkle in Hiligaynon, are as much a beauty to behold as they are a puzzle to residents who wonder what body of water feeds the waterfalls as the nearest one to it, Lake Baranibud, is tens of kilometers away in the boundary of North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.

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Never mind the mystery, however. Officials are enjoying the new found attention the place receives from visitors that could translate into increased economic activity.

Marlo Estella, a member of the council of the village of Upper Dado where the waterfalls were discovered, recalled how the place looked like before Asik-Asik came into view.

“We saw only thick vegetation covering the side of the cliff,” said Estella.

Bartolome Latasa, mayor of Alamada town that has jurisdiction over the village of Upper Dado, said Asik-Asik first tried to emerge from its shell through a forest fire that gutted much of the vegetation that covered the waterfalls.

It was followed by a landslide that carved out an ugly crater on the side of the cliff, the mayor said.

Then Typhoon Frank came. “A large portion of the cliff gave way and a large volume of water suddenly burst from cracks,” said the mayor.

Water bursts from the biggest crack from a height of about 100 meters.

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The cracks took the place of huge trees, including a Balete, that were uprooted at the height of Typhoon Frank, which had been rated as one of the 10 deadliest storms to hit the country.

But while officials may know how nature unveiled Asik-Asik, they are at a loss over where the water comes from.

Mayor Latasa said no river runs above the waterfalls. The area, he said, is mostly upland farms that are dry.

“There is nothing that could indicate the origin of the water,” said the mayor.

The mystery of the waterfalls became opportunity for Alamada, however. During the last Holy Week, the town opened the site to the public and soon, thousands of visitors had come and have been coming to admire Asik-Asik’s beauty.

Village councilor Estella said on weekends, the number of foreign and local tourists coming to see Asik-Asik easily reaches 1,000.

Emmylou Talino Mendoza, governor of North Cotabato that has jurisdiction over Alamada town, said the provincial government was working closely with municipal officials to turn Asik-Asik into a major tourism site for the province.

In the meantime, visitors continue to flock to Asik-Asik leaving amazed and awed at how such beauty could come from some of nature’s deadliest acts.

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TAGS: Climate Change, environment, Mindanao, Philippine typhoons, Regions, Typhoon Frank
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