WHEN she was younger, Dating Joville heard her parents say she shouldn’t go to the waterfalls in their barangay because a man named Aguinid had gone missing there.

Joville’s parents and other residents believed that the waterfalls in Barangay Tangbu, Samboan were under the control of a supernatural being.

According to Joville’s grandparents, Aguinid was a man who lived in an upland area near the falls. Sometime in the 1800s, he came down to get some firewood but disappeared after that.

Relatives looked for him but saw no trace, no body.

They believed, Joville said, that Aguinid had been taken by fairies and other supernatural beings.

Despite these stories, Joville and her siblings still go to the waterfalls to swim.

And what used to be a scary place for residents has turned into the most-visited eco-tourism site in the town today.

It is now called Aguinid Falls.

From Cebu City to Samboan (population: 18,613 as of 2010), a visitor needs to travel for 2.5 hours by bus to cover a 150-kilometer journey. Tangbu is two kilometers from the town’s poblacion or center.

Guest often just walk for five minutes from the national highway in Tangbu to the

falls, near the barangay hall.

For a P20 entrance fee, guests can trek, climb or swim the waterfalls. A tour guide can lead them to all five levels of the waterfalls, which stretch 100 meters at its most imposing point.

At the first level, five pools await. Rock climbing in the midst of a cool rush of water is offered at the second level. Trekking is encouraged from levels three to five, right up to the source.

Joville, 60, is now one of the tourist guides in the area.

“Amo standby dinhi naa nay tinguhaan (Our jobless residents now have a means of earning an income),” she said.

Samboan acting tourism officer Irwin Gamallo said they require a guide to accompany guests for safety and to inform them about prohibited acts while in the eco-tourism

site.

“Tour guides do not ask for fees but they accept tips,” he said.

Tangbu Barangay Captain Carolina Gamallo said the revenues are shared by the barangay and a people’s organization, and pay for the site’s maintenance.

Samboan Mayor Raymund Joseph Calderon said that the town recorded more than 22,000 tourist arrivals in Aguinid Falls for May alone.

Based on the data provided by the Samboan Tourism Office, tourist arrivals started rising in June 2014.

As of June 1, 2015, a total of 57,464 tourists have visited Samboan’s waterfalls so far.

Ritche Padin, 32, a guide, said the interest in Aguinid Falls is a great help to him for there are no companies in town where he could otherwise work.

Another tourist guide, Francisco Tanchio Jr., 34, said that some residents also rely on the waterfalls as a source of drinking water.