In Bislig City : An abandoned paper mill and boating in Bislig River

BISLIG CITY (MindaNews / 1 Sep) – All this time but until now, Bislig City was all Tinuy-an Falls to me. I was here first time in the late 1990s and camped near the edge of the falls. There was no paved road then, the falls secretly hidden from the world.

Years after, I was constantly drawn back, bringing friends and family but no exposure to the city proper, leaving as soon as we’ve bath and swim at the falls. “What’s the city like and what other sights to see or do?” They asked. There’s a hilltop restaurant and a doll’s house along the highway but still a distance away from downtown area. A few natural attractions like caves are identified but are not officially developed and promoted.

Upon the invitation of a friend and colleague, Leonardo “Dodong” Baldoviso, I revisited Bislig and grateful enough to meet the energetic Vice Mayor Jonas “Bong” Cacayan who brought me to PICOP (Paper Industry Corporation of the Philippines), then the biggest paper mill factory in Southeast Asia established in 1952 and closed in 2007.

It’s now in ruins and in desolate state of decay. Abandoned and unihabited, the rundown buildings lord over resilient tall grasses. I thought it’ll make a perfect set for action and gangland movies. Maybe they should invite producers here. But Vice Mayor Cacayan has a better idea: transform it to a museum and historic and outdoor complex and eco-tourism park through private-public partnership project. The possibility of this is potentially viable and promising, using one’s imagination and creativity. Perhaps the debate on industrialization versus eco-tourism will be resolved and come to an end.

I took refuge in a humble economy hotel, the Bonsay River View Inn near the back of the city hall and beside Bislig River. My room was literally facing it where I jumped and swam towards the big fishing boat, tempted to head to the sea but a bangkero (boatman) passed me by and took me below Bislig Bridge and sailed to the mangrove forest. “You could have reached Naked Island,” Aprodecio “Dodo” Alba Jr., owner of Bonsay, told me.

Naked Island is a sandbar near the mouth of the river and close to Hagonoy Island, a dive site destination. For surfing enthusiasts, a surfing spot in Barangay Tabon awaits you.

There is no reason why not stay overnights in this growing city of Surigao del Sur, Caraga Region. A baywalk invites you as you mingle with the locals or savor restaurants, from Vietnamese-inspired to the native. Not to miss the White Wall ( Tinuy-an) of course, all guaranteed to lure you back.