A few minutes ride from Barili’s public market, you’ll find Mantayupan Falls, a gem that faces the threat of being “eradicated” due to man and modern technology. I visited the falls, for the first time, during a prenup shoot for my friends. The falls, the first of which is more than 90 feet high and the second of which is more than 40 feet high, is open to the public every day and is operated by the neighboring barangay. Last year, after the earthquake that rocked Negros Oriental and neighboring islands, a sinkhole formed, drying up the falls. Although the sinkhole has been covered, news reports say other sinkholes could occur. Prior to last year, for about 20 years, the falls ceased to exist because water was diverted to power a hydro power plant and to supply the town’s irrigation system.
The waterfalls did not impress me, maybe because (i) I’m not a fan of waterfalls, (ii) it looked “luoy” or pitiful, like a dying lady, gasping for breath. When the area was re-opened to the public in 2006 (after the 2-decade long closure), it easily became a tourist spot or it was marketed as a tourist spot. I think tourism as a source of income is super overrated (I truly hate the idea) because often government agencies do not spend much on research prior to starting a project, or if there is any research, it is only a research on short-term costs and benefits . And, often, the revenue goes to government officials, not to the real stakeholders of the project.
The area is poorly managed. Guests are allowed to eat in the water (which, for me, means guests are also allowed to throw left-overs to the water). There is lack of eating space but guests are still allowed to eat and cook. They charge an entrance fee and for anything you do inside the area, such as bring food and use tables, chairs, grills, and toilets.
The Mantayupan Falls is a natural resource that is slowly dying. I hope the people in Barili find a more sustainable way of using the falls (without abusing it). After two visits, I would suggest the town hire a consultant (probably Sir Boboy Costas who was consulted for the Aloguinsan Bojo River project).