Not many have travelled to the city of Bislig or Mangagoy on the island of Mindanao, their remoteness would put many people off.
But those taking the northern route should take the time to stop at the Enchanted River. Getting in for a swim is just the first thing that will draw you into this untouched little piece of heaven.
For those coming from the south, the trip is much more difficult as the road that connects Trento to Bislig is mostly dirt, often soaked in mud and hard to manoeuvre. But, for those that make the effort, the city of Mangagoy is a treasure for anyone taking the time and effort to reach it.
Bislig City is a little over 200 kilometers north of Davao City, directly south of the province of Surigao.
Bislig is named after the Visayan word “Bislin”, meaning a type of gold that was mined in the hills overlooking the city. This precious metal was discovered in the 16th century and used as a daily bartering tool for trade ships that sailed around the coast of Mindanao.
Some say the city got its name from the vine known as “bislig” which historians say saved the lives of a Spanish Royal couple when they tried to cross a raging river just outside the city.
The couple fell into the swift-moving waters. Believed lost, they were later found downriver grasping to a bislig vine.
Though Bislig is lacking in historical visitor attractions, the beauty of Tinuay-an Falls will make up for that.
This stunning triple layered-falls is also of the most photographed in the Philippines.
The Magdiwata Mountain range creates a stunning backdrop to the city of Bislig and Mangagoy. Those that love to hike and venture into deep and undiscovered forests will no doubt love the Magdiwata range. The roads leading out of Mangagoy give easy access to this beautiful mountain area.
Between Mangagoy and Bislig lies a little hidden treasure, ‘Ocean View Park’, a hillside retreat that is a real must-see.
The steep incline up the steps is an adventure all its own – once at the top, the stairs give way to one of the best panoramic views on the island of Mindanao.
The park has a nice eatery, with local and western food.
Hagonoy is a lovely little island in the bay of Bislig with stunning white-sand beaches.
Lawigan Beach is one of the best on this little islet, and anyone venturing there should take time for a relaxing day on the island.
Bislig is also famous for the Baywalk area that sits onshore looking into the Bislig Bay and the island of Hagonoy. The walk has numerous picnic pavilions and even multi-tiered overviews where photo opportunities are endless.
The quaint hillside homes and streets ‘lined in gold’ are just a few things that bring foreigners and locals alike to this area.
Once the access to this region is updated, no doubt this city will be far busier then it is now.
For those that have taken the time to visit the Enchanted River, take another one-hour drive south and visit the beauty of Bislig City.
Spend the night, enjoy the moment, as one visit to these unique ‘sister cities’ might be all it takes to lure you back for a lifetime
Photography by Jojie Alcantara of Davao City