Not many have traveled to the city of Bislig or Mangagoy on the island of Mindanao. Its accessibility alone makes it a difficult track to reach for most. Coming from the north, via San Franz as many call it, the road turns south near Barabo and heads in the region of Enchanted River.
For those coming from the south, the trip is much more difficult as the road that connects Trento to Bislig is dirt, often soaked in mud and often hard to maneuver. But, for those that make the effort, the city of Mangagoy is a treasure like no other.
Bislig City is approximately 200 kilometers north of Davao City and rests directly south of the province of Surigao. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Bislig and Mangagoy are beauties clinging to the edge of the sea.
Bislig itself is a small part of the area, and basically is a minuet peninsula that formed into a sleepy little town that simple has been frozen in time. The larger more bustling city of Mangagoy is where the action is and this area is very unique in itself. In the upper regions of the city the houses rest on the hillsides like stacked houses of Italy, with small winding roads that pass in every direction possible.
Bislig is named after the Visayan word “Bislin”, meaning a kind of gold that had been 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 reportedly saved the life of a Spanish Royal couple when they tried to cross a local raging river. The couple fell into the swift moving waters, believed lost, they were later found down-river grasping to a bislig vine. That piece of history alone reportedly set into motion the naming of Bislig City.
Though Bislig is not steeped in heavy tourist traps, the beauty of Tinuay-an Falls is celebrated as a leading attraction to the city. Tinuay-an Falls is known to many as “The Niagara Falls of the Philippines.” This stunning triple layered falls has been featured throughout the world in publications and magazines. Not only is the falls one of the widest in the entire country, it is also one of the most photographed in the Philippines as well.
The Magdiwata Mountain range creates a stunning backdrop to the city of Bislig. 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 range.
Between Mangagoy and Bislig lies a stunning hidden treasure, Ocean View Park, a hillside retreat that is a ‘must see’ for everyone. The steep steps up the hillside are an adventure all their own, but 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 and some of the food is even western style so foreigners can enjoy a hamburger and fries that taste just like home.
Hagonoy is a unique little island in the bay of Bislig. The beautiful white sand beaches can be seen from afar and the attraction is its little beaches that rest against the Pacific Ocean. 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 of Hagonoy.
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 abound.
Other places to venture in the region are “Enchanted River” a stunning aqua-marine-blue lagoon that will take your breath away. Also visit the Hinayagan Cave, Forester’s Park, International Doll House, Kamayo Park and Lake ‘77’.
Mangagoy and Bislig have a unique and simplistic atmosphere, one that welcomes you to take a stroll or relax on the resorts that hug the coastline. The quaint hillside homes and the streets ‘lined in gold’ are just a few things that bring foreigners and locals alike to this great area. The region is considered a safe zone for anyone looking to live or retire from overseas. Though the road between Bislig and Trento is not a safe-zone to drive in, I personally have driven it and I’ve never experienced a problem at all.
I love the untouched area of Bislig and I have to believe that if it was easier to access then for sure it would be spoiled in ways that are unthinkable to me. On that next trip to the Enchanted River, drive an hour or so south and spend a night in Bislig City, you just might want to spend a lifetime once you see this unique little town.