Tag Archives: eco-system

The natural treasure of Bislig

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Ped T. Quiamjot
January 14, 2011

THE MOVIE scene of the late Hollywood actor Christopher Reeves portraying Superman in the 80’s sequel showed Niagara Falls as a backdrop. As the superhero glides across the screen with his kryptonite power, shades of rainbow rays arch from the sun prism captured the wonders of cascading waters. Niagara Falls located at the border of Ontario, Canada and the State of New York is one of the most visited tourist attraction in North America.

The inspiring cinematic scene could be replicated today at Tinuy-an Falls or “Little Niagara Falls” of the Philippines as its awesome four tiered falls spanned 95 meters wide to prominence. Tinuy-an is located in Bislig City. A component city of the Province of Surigao del Sur at the southeastern coast of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean.

Surigao del Sur is known as a forest and rich mineral triangle sharing boundaries with Agusan del Sur and Cospostela Valley. A remnant of century old Toog trees, ferns and vines provides rain forest landscape slowly disappearing and devastated from the uncontrolled logging activities of the high and mighty. The news headlines on print and TV tells of flooding, death and mud slides of mountain lands in the region that grabbed the attention of the national scene recently.

Tinuy-an Falls is the last bastion of the eco-system found at the Bagnan and Borboanon villages in Bislig. Small islets with multi layered stones protect the river basin from flood and erosion and attract swimming and rappelling from both ends with a hypnotic view of the curtain of water. But how long could this magnificent attraction hold from the adverse of development and mineral extraction where the upper mountains are turned upside down by miners in search for coal, copper and gold inviting mitigation to climate change? What has the local government done to protect its natural treasure? Uncontrolled development and exploitation brings misery to humanity. It causes environmental degradation and disaster.

Tinuy-an Falls is the source of water for the Bagnan impounding pond which is pumped to the more than 50,000 households in Mangagoy and Bislig. It supplies the irrigation of rice lands in Bagnan and enables rice harvest twice a year.

Bislig which is defendant of its allocation of the Internal Revenue Share from all component cities has a ruined and struggling economy from the closure of the biggest paper mills manufacturing plant in Asia in 2006; it is agonizing to keep its cuppers afloat to fund various local government services.

Once the flagship project of the government during the Marcos regime, Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) which was a spin off the original Bislig Bay Lumber Company (BBLCI) of the Andres Soriano Group of companies supplies the newsprint requirements of the printing industry. Other by product goes to the cupboard used for packaging of the country’s export products. The former manufacturing plant sources its materials from its timber concession and industrial tree planting contracting activities benefiting Tree Farmers.

By fate of politics, mismanagement and the economics of currency adjustments unfavorable to the peso, PICOP, run billions of unpaid loans from the banking institutions leaving the Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines empty handed. With assets dicipatated as foreclosed machineries are cannibalized of metal parts sold as junks in the Butuan and Davao City junk shops. From what was an industrial workforce of 30,000 migrants, Bislig City is back to agriculture and fishing. Retail business survives from the currency remittance from those who left and work in the foreign land. While many of its women with less education who could not adapt to agricultural disciplines are waylaid to prostitutions in the Karaoke Bars and Massage Parlors of the nearby cities.