Oriental Mindoro (Filipino: Silangang Mindoro; Spanish: Mindoro Oriental) is a province of the Philippines located in the island of Mindoro under MIMAROPA region in Luzon, about 140 km southwest of Manila. The province is bordered by the Verde Island Passage and the rest of Batangas to the north, by Marinduque, Maestro del Ocampo Island, Tablas Strait and the rest of Romblon to the east, by Semirara and the rest of Caluya Islands, Antique to the south, and by Occidental Mindoro to the west. Calapan City, the only city in the island, is the provincial capital.
The indigenous people in the province are the Mangyans (Manguianes in Spanish, Mañguianes in Old Tagalog), consisting of 7 distinct tribes. They occupy the interior, specially the highlands. Mangyans have inhabited the island since pre-history. They are believed to have originally traveled from Indonesia and settled down for good in the island.
Based on the 2007 Census of Population, Oriental Mindoro has a population of 735,769 which makes it the most populous province in the region. This is higher by 53,951 from the year 2000, resulting in an annual population growth rate of 1.06% during the seven-year period
The province is largely rural, with 70% of the population engaged in agriculture and fishing and with only 30% living in urban centers. Tagalog is widely spoken in the province. Other dialects spoken are Ilocano and Cebuano. Strains of the Mangyan dialect spoken are Arayan, Alagnan, Buhid, Hanunoo, and Tadyawan. Most of the population are of Roman Catholic.
Higher Education Institutions in the province:
* Abada College
Oriental Mindoro is composed of 14 municipalities, with one component city, Calapan City serving as the provincial capital.
Baco, Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Gloria, Mansalay, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola, Puerto-Galera, Roxas, San Teodoro, Socorro, Victoria
The province has a total land area of 4,238.4 km²; with the western portion of the province being mountainous or rugged, hills and flood plains are widely distributed in the eastern portion. Mount Halcon, standing 2582 m above sea level, is the 18th highest mountain in the country and is the province's and island's highest peak. Lake Naujan, the fifth largest lake in the country with an area of approximately 8,125 ha of open water, is located at the northeastern part of the island and the province.
Oriental Mindoro has no distinct wet or dry seasons. Average temperature ranges from 26 to 32 degrees celsius. The province experiences maximum rainfall during the months of June to October. Relative humidity is registered at 81%.
Pre-History and Indigenous Civilization
Legend has it that long before the Spaniards discovered the Philippine Islands, Mindoro was already among the islands that enchanted pilgrims from other countries. It was said that vast wealth was buried in the area, and mystic temples of gold and images of anitos bedecked the sacred grounds of this relatively unknown land. The Spaniards even named the island Mina de Oro, believing it had large deposits of gold.
The history of Mindoro dates back before the Spanish time. Records have it that Chinese traders were known to be trading with Mindoro merchants. Trade relations with China where Mindoro was known as Mai started when certain traders from 'Mai' brought valuable merchandise to Canton in 892 A.D. The geographic proximity of the island to China Sea had made possible the establishment of such relations with Chinese merchantmen long before the first Europeans came to the Philippines. Historians claimed that China-Mindoro relations must have been earlier than 892 A.D., the year when the first ship from Mindoro was recorded to have sailed for China.
Historians believed that the first inhabitants of Mindoro were the Indonesians who came to the island 8,000 to 3,000 years ago. After the Indonesians, the Malays came from Southeast Asia around 200 B.C. The Malays were believed to have extensive cultural contact with India, China and Arabia long before they settled in Philippine Archipelago.
Mindoro was first discovered by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first Spanish Governor General of the Philippines. When Legaspi conquered Cebu in 1565, he heard of a flourishing settlement in Luzon. The search for abundant food evidently lacking in most Visayas Islands prompted the exploration leading to the discovery of this island. Captain Martin de Goiti, accompanied by Juan de Salcedo, sailed for Luzon.
On May 8, 1570, they anchored somewhere in Mindoro Coast, north of Panay. Salcedo and de Goiti had the chance to explore the western part of the island, particularly Ilin, Mamburao and Lubang. From Ilin, Salcedo sailed north of Mamburao where he found two Chinese vessels containing precious cargo of gold thread, cotton cloth, silk, gilded porcelain bowls and water jugs to be exchanged for gold with the natives of Mindoro. In 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi also visited the island and brought the natives under the Spanish rule.
The evangelization of Mindoro started in 1572 through the Augustinians. In 1578 the Franciscans took over and ten years later the secular priests. Also in the seventeenth century did a new phase in Christianization begin for the Mangyans were likewise visited by missionaries. The Jesuits erected seven "reducciones" in 1636. It was in these settlements that Mangyans from the inaccessible forests and hills were induced to settle down and be baptized as Christians.
The Province of Mindoro
Mindoro, which was formerly integrated into the province of Bonbon (Batangas) together with Marinduque, was made a separate province in the beginning of the seventeenth century. The island was divided into pueblos headed by gobernadorcillo and composed of several barangays headed by cabeza de barangay. Minolo (now Puerto Galera) became the provincial capital, then Baco and finally Calapan which was founded in 1679 as a result of conflict between the Recollect priests and the Provincial Governor.
The Spanish Government
In 1801, the Spanish authorities started a program of re-populating Mindoro but such attempts failed since the people were afraid to migrate to the province. Those who were eventually sent to Mindoro still returned to their homes after several years.
It was only in the second half of the 19th century that the island's population started to increase due to demographic pressure in the main settlement centers. This resulted in the founding of new administrative units. The number of pueblos increased and education expanded. However, the number of teachers available was limited such that very few were able to read and write and speak Spanish. These people formed the small native upper class in the province.
In terms of trade and agriculture, change came very slowly to Mindoro. In 1870, only minor quantities of crops were shipped out to Batangas due to neglected agricultural development.
The coal mines between Bulalacao and Semirara Island were discovered in 1879. In 1898, the Spanish colonial government granted titles for nine coal mines but exploitation in large quantities never took place.
When the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1898, Mindoreños rallied to overthrow the Spanish Government in the province; although the uprising predominantly originated from outside the island as planned, organized and triggered off by the Caviteños and Batangueños. This was not for social changes but an anti-colonial war to gain independence. However, their victory was short lived because the events that followed marked the beginning of the American Regime in the Philippines.
The American Period
The victory of Admiral Dewey over the Spaniards in Manila on August 13, 1898 brought about general changes in Mindoro. A general primary school system with English as the language of instruction was established. Calapan Port was opened to inter-island commerce. The U.S. Army Signal Corps connecting Calapan and Batangas installed a series of military cables. Land telegraph for public use was also installed in Calapan and Naujan. With the construction of provincial road along the east coast, the most important towns of the province were connected with one another. Free trade was established between the U.S.A. and the Philippines that brought about significant changes in the economy of Mindoro. Infrastructure and economic measures were adopted which induced massive wave of migration to the island.
Changes in the affairs of the local government also took effect in the island. Mindoro was made a sub-province of Marinduque on June 23, 1902 by virtue of Act No. 423 of the Philippine Commission. On November 10, 1902, Act No. 500 separated Mindoro from its mother province, thereby organizing its provincial government. The same Act provided further that 'the province shall consist the main island and the smaller islands adjacent thereof, including the islands of Lubang, Caluya and Semirara. Puerto Galera was made the seat of government, with Captain R.C. Offley as the first civil governor. In 1907, the province was allowed to elect its first delegate in the person of Don Mariano Adriatico. Mindoro was finally declared a regular province in 1921.
In the years following the invasion of Mindoro by the United States Forces, there had been a considerable increase in population due to the pouring into the highly underpopulated island of a massive influx of new settlers. For the first time, the development and cultivation of the island's interior was made possible. The structure of society and the distribution of landholdings were likewise altered. The minority policy of the Americans was adopted, uplifting the Mangyans to the Filipino majority's level of civilization through special educational regulation and separate settlements.
World War II wrought heavy damages, death and pain to the people of Mindoro. However, social conditions continued to exist without any definitive changes. After the war, reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure and economy took place which ended with the division of the island into two provinces of Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro on June 13, 1950, by virtue of the Republic Act No. 505.
In the decades after the war, the island continued to become one of the preferred areas of new settlers coming from the overpopulated provinces in the Philippines in search of the new land. Apart from the hope to become landowners or to have better tenancy conditions, the guerrilla war (Huk rebellion) in Central Luzon was an important factor for migration. Under the settlement program of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) which was founded on June 18, 1954, families from Central Luzon were settled in the Bongabong-Pinamalayan area. This project ended in 1956 after the settlement of 606 families (3,636 people) on 8,600 hectares of public land. Since then new settlers have incessantly migrated to Mindoro until today.
Oriental Mindoro is touted as the country's emerging eco-tourism destination. It evokes images of a genuine tropical paradise --- white sands, crystal clear water, lush green forests covering majestic mountains and splendid waterfalls. With its largely unspoiled natural beauty, the province has much to offer in terms of tourism and other economic opportunities. Special interest tours such as mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, camping, game fishing, adventure trips, natural caves, island hopping, scuba diving, snorkeling are among the exciting activities for recreation.
Oriental Mindoro is also called and known now as the LUPAIN NG MAHALTA. Tamaraw (TA), an endemic and or indigenous specie of the water buffalo, various flora and fauna found on slopes of Mount Halcon (HAL) and the native Mangyans (MA), all together add vibrancy to the colors and the richness of nature and culture of the province.
Oriental Mindoro's rich and arable land is suitable for agriculture. It is producing large quantities of rice, corn, coconut, vegetables and fruits like calamansi, banana, rambutan, marang or uloy, lanzones and durian. For that, Oriental Mindoro is also known as the Rice Granary and Fruit Basket of Southern Tagalog. It still is the Banana King and Calamansi King of the region. Its total agricultural area is 169, 603.34 hectares. Based on agricultural statistics, 85, 244 hectares are devoted to palay production while 21, 671 hectares to coconut plantation. The province, for the past years, registered an average of 1 to 2 million cavans as surplus in rice production.
The leading tourist attraction of Oriental Mindoro is Puerto Galera which is blessed with one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors. It is world-famous for its splendid beaches, coral reefs, and exquisite dive sites. There are shallow coral gardens, interesting rock formations, and colorful species to watch, like crabs, shrimps, sea anemones, moray, and trumpet fishes.
Towering 8,488 feet above sea level, Mt. Halcon is the country's third highest peak. It is a favorite destination for nature tripping and mountain climbing. Mt. Halcon is located in Baco.
Editor for Asisbiz: Matthew Laird Acred
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