Text and Photos by RAWI JUNE AMAGA-MORANDANTE
SURIGAO DEL SUR, Philippines — Any itinerary for a trip to Surigao del Sur would always include the Britania Group of Islands, Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig town — three destinations that top the most visited getaways in this province and its neighboring places. Getting to and experiencing these exquisite places would surely leave any tourist, local or foreign, in total awe and admiration.
The influx of tourism in these spectacular locations has somehow helped the locals with their livelihood. They either serve as tourist guides; provide pump boats for island hopping and tables for rent; sell local products like utensils and furniture made from Mangkuno tree (iron wood); sell danggit (dried fish), sugpo (prawns), alimango (crabs), variety of fishes and locally made souvenir items at reasonable prices.
Britannia Group of Islands
The 24 islands and islets called the Britannia Group of Islands are found in Britannia village in San Agustin town, a five to six-hour ride by land from Davao City. They are beautifully dispersed in the waters of Lianga Bay facing the great Pacific Ocean.
Boslon island is the biggest among the 24 islets. Rock formations, green vegetation and fine white sand stretching out to the blue-green sea water surround the island. Other islets that can be viewed from Boslon are the Panlangagan Cave, Panlangagan Forest, Minasingin, Isla Verde, Malingin and Litik. These islands would surely bring tourists the experience beyond compare.
The Enchanted River
Enchanted River in Talisay village, Hinatuan town is one of the most popular attractions in Surigao del Sur. The river, about 24 meters long, is found within a thick forest. It’s shrouded with thick vegetation that has a narrow passage connecting to the sea. Its deep blue water invites swimmers and non-swimmers alike to take a dip.
Everyday at 12 noon, a bell rings requesting tourists to clear the river for the scheduled one-hour fish feeding. Amazingly, the school of fish, of different colors and sizes, gather on cue, almost reaching the water surface.
As the fishes are being fed, the Enchanted Hymn is played in the background. The fishes in the Enchanted River are carnivores and herbivores. They are fed with kugita (octopus) mixed with rice.
Local folks here benefit from the tourism boom. Right across the entrance are row of stalls offering a wide array of food and drinks, from fruits to variety of fresh and live sea foods, and their popular danggit (dried fish).
The municipality of Hinatuan which runs and manages the Enchanted River has recorded 24,889 visitors including foreigners, in May this year alone.
In Barboanan town in Bislig City, the magnificent cluster of falls cascading from the mountain is found. The Tinuy-an Falls considered as the Philippines’ Niagara Falls is approximately 95 meters wide and 55 meters high. What makes it one of the best waterfalls in the country is its unique natural formation. Its white water curtain flows in three levels.World