‘Paper town’ shifts to agri-tourism

By Eugenio Lira, Jr.

Bislig City, Surigao del Sur – This once biggest paper-producing town in the county is now embarking on a massive venture into tourism and agricultural production to prop up its declining economy as a result of the shutting down in 2009 of the multi-million dollar Picop Resources, Inc. which used to produce paper and timber products and employed more than 3,000 workers.

Keynoting the convention of the Caraga Region Tri-Media Practitioners Association, Mayor Librado Navarro on Monday said the city’s top tourist attractions included the Tinuy-an Falls, the man-made Lake 77, Mud Skim Boarding, the pearl-shaped Hagonoy Island and bird-watching which earned more than P30-million last year as compared to only P230-thousand when tourism activity started in 2003.

The convention was attended by practicing journalists from Caraga Region which included Caraga Tri-Media President Roberto Parada, Jr., Tri-Media Adviser Jaime Matugas, DxSE manager Rona Alviso, DxVP manager Judith Suarez, DxSF manager Max Tutor, DxJJ manager Jesrel Derigay, Caraga Times Publisher Ben Serrano and Dinagat News Cable Producer Tyrone Basubas,

“Normally, we recorded about 7,000 tourists monthly. But during peak seasons, it would reach more than 20,000. The three-tiered Tinuy-an Falls remains the top tourists-drawer and never fails to enchant visitors with its artistic grandeur of 55 meters in height with a bathing area of 95 meters which is considered the widest in the country and the reason it was christened as the “Niagara Falls of the Philippines”,” Navarro told.

Navarro said tourists also took interest in bird-watching particularly for ‘Sun Bird’ which is considered as the ‘smallest bird in the world’, aside from rare species such as the Silvery Kingfisher and the Philippine Eagle, among others.

“For agri-production, the city has allocated 1,000 hectares for rice farming, 6,000 hectares for multi-crop farming and has intensified its program on livestock raising and other cottage industries for our constituents. In the process, we want our farmers to become entrepreneurs,” Navarro said.

He said the city has also embarked on said project for sustainability to liberate itself from dependency on agricultural products from Davao and Cotabato areas.

Also at the convention were lawyer Berteni Causing and Edwin Alcala of the National Press Club, Rina Jaylo and Mary Jul Escalante of Caraga Aksyon Balita, Lt Col Danilo Benavides, Manobo chieftain Datu Eduardo Ampo, broadcasters Lito Ucab, Nardz Hijara, Rex Rapido, Willy Evangelio and Pinky Bee of Tandag City, and correspondents Rey Parada, Kent Goña, Sergio Maceren and Franklin Gorgonio of Surigao City.

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