History

Ghosts and mystical stories are nothing new at one of Cebu’s popular tourist destinations — the Kawasan falls in Badian town, Cebu.
According to locals, it is not every year that a person dies at the falls but every two years.
The deaths were a warning, according to a quack doctor or locally known as “mananambal,” whose services was sought on the death of a tourist several years ago.
It takes sometime for the body of a person, who drowns at the falls, to surface, which fuels the stories.
Oliver Harapat, 29, who works for the Kawasan Multi-Purpose Cooperative, said there is a story that the spirits of the forest locally known as “engkanto” ask for 60 human souls in exchange for disturbing their once peaceful place which is now congested with cottages put up by several resorts in the three-tier falls.
He said no explanation was given on why the spirits needed 60 souls.

Although Harapat and a handful of other workers laughed when asked if they believed in the tale, fear is still etched on their faces. Some local workers chose to remain silent all throughout the interview.
“Those are just tales but some say that black figures appear in the pictures of tourists. Sometimes, they say photographs show white ladies,” Harapat said in Cebuano.
On Easter Sunday, the family of Nelson Tiro who drowned in the second falls on Maundy Thursday, brought a mananambal to ask for the spirits to free the soul of Tiro, said the worker.
Harapat was the one who dived and recovered the body of Tiro about 30 minutes after he drowned.

Emma Saldua, an operator of Willy’s Place, the pioneering resort at the falls, said that she believed in “engkantos” but not in the tale that the spirits asked for human souls.
“They are really there. We must make sure not to disturb them so they will not harm us,” Saldua said in Cebuano.
When an Iranian visitor drowned at the falls a few years back, she said the spirits’ help was sought before the Iranian’s body was found. The divers exhausted themselves in searching for his body for almost two hours but to no avail. When they asked the spirits, the Iranian’s body surfaced instantly, the operator said.
Last New Year’s Eve, Saldua said she was the only one left at the resort. There were no guests and she was practically alone at the first falls.

“Nakadungog man ko ug murag daghan kaayo mga tao nga saba ug sadya kaayo (I heard a lot of people making noise and seemingly having a party).”
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Thinking these were arriving guests, Saldua went to open the doors and windows of the resort’s convenience store but found no one around.
Out of fear, she hurriedly locked up again and played loud music on her radio.
Story by the inquirer

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