Man-made structures mar Kawasan Falls

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Twin waterfalls at the top tier
Twin waterfalls at the top tier. Ugly man-made structure (a.k.a. resort) not shown as I was standing on it's cement stairs.

Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

I prefer undeveloped spaces or if there should be development of tourist areas, I would like that it should not be such that it becomes yet another generic touristy place and, as much as possible, I steer clear of such places.

Dirt path to the waterfalls passes through rock walls and formations
Dirt path to the waterfalls passes through rock walls and formations
But there are some, like Kawasan Falls in Matutinao, Badian, Cebu, that despite being one of the top natural attractions of the island province and me being a Cebuano, haven’t really gone up to see this cascade in all of my 30+ years. Not until last week when I went down south and made a short detour.


The jump off point is at the Matutinao church, a modern structure that seems incongruous with the otherwise bucolic surroundings. Right then and there, guides will call on you or come close to offer there services but really, you don’t need any guide to go there as the dirt path leading to the attraction is well maintained. However, from the highway, it’s still around 20 to 30 minutes walk with a 10 peso entrance fee.

What I do like about this leisurely walk is that the path is shaded. There are beautiful rock formations as well as cool rock walls (but alas, graffiti mars such a scenery) overgrown with vegetation that gives a feeling of being somewhere untamed (well, sort of). What surprised me most, however, was the very clear river at the left. It’s not muddied or strewn with garbage.

However, that feeling of wildness doesn’t linger long as one comes closer to the waterfalls. Houses, a wide clearing, a stone bridge, a small hydroelectric dam and other structures start to crop up that I can’t help but think to myself, not again.

The biggest and final tier of Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu
The biggest and final tier of Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu

The first tier of Kawasan Falls is actually spectacular: large but not necessarily tall and gushes water with the largest volume among the three cascades. Its aquamarine water is stunning unlike other drab colored ones found in other places. The waterfall is hemmed in by a soaring limestone cliff.

Unfortunately, such beauty is marred with the man-made structures of the resort that owns it. Ugly looking cement blocks that pass off as accommodations for overpriced overnight stays as well as cement tables and seats right at the edge of the water is just horrible.

Pristine river emanating from the waterfalls. I was surprised with the cleanliness of the water
Pristine river emanating from the waterfalls. I was surprised with its cleanliness

A narrow and slippery path leads one to the upper tiers. I was expecting much thinking that these would be a little bit pristine and uncommercialized. When I reached the twin cascades, one is much taller than the first but less in volume (topmost photo), that expectation just burst. It’s no different. Cement structures are also built right at the water’s edge and using the tables/cottages will set you P300.

Being a popular tourist spot in southwestern Cebu, this rock wall wasn't spared from graffiti
Being a popular tourist spot in southwestern Cebu, this rock wall wasn't spared from graffiti
One of the minor cascade of Kawasan Falls with a hut built on top. What the...
One of the minor cascade of Kawasan Falls with a hut built on top. What the...

Well, so much for my Kawasan Falls experience. But maybe, my expectations were too high. But the waters are real cool and refreshing though.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

12 thoughts on “Man-made structures mar Kawasan Falls

  1. nice falls. looks like a big basin where all the falls pour in. love the emerald color. hate the hut placed on top. i think thats one thing that the DOT should taught local governments… learning how to make the tourist spots attractive and not cluttered.

  2. jp, unfortunately, the man made structures sa vicinity ng falls is too ugly. its too late to change it as these are made of cement.

  3. Hi Estan,

    We are planning to go to Kawasan Falls but really couldn’t find clear instructions on to how to get there via cebu proper (airport). It will be our first time in cebu so we are planning it as early as now. We are already booked for Feb2010. Hope you can help us 😀

  4. Rich, you just have to go to Barangay Matutinao in Badian and the signs are there. It’s a few kilometers south of the town center. I assure you, you won’t get lost.

  5. Bai Estan, I agree with you, it should have been developed in a manner that’s more harmonious with the natural landscape.

    But did you go up to the very source? It is just another 15 minute climb from the 2nd tier/level. The water has the best quality and would have been more picture perfect IMO. We always go there so we don’t end up on the downstream of someobody else’s piss, albeit already very very diluted. Hehehe.

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