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Occidental Mindoro

Mait was how the local people called their island. Chinese merchants coming back to Fujian in the 13th century spoke of this land of Ma'i, which came into the annals of a Chinese functionary Chao Jukua. Thus is recorded the ancient trade between the Chinese and the people of Mindoro or Mait. Occidental Mindoro is the western half of the fabled island. The Verde Passage separates it from the Batangas coast. Its eastern coast faces the Mindoro Strait, which separates the island from Busuanga in Palawan. Several islands lie off the coast of the main island. The largest of these islands are Lubang, Ambil and Golo, in the north, and Ilin in the south. The plains hug the irregular coastline while valleys, and plateaus alternate with high mountains towards the interior. The climate is dry from December until May and wet the rest of the year.

History

Thriving settlements with active trading relations with the Chinese existed along the Mindoro coast at the time of Spanish conquest. Ilin, Mamburao and Lubang were important settlements established by both local inhabitants as well as settlers from the south. In 1570, the Spanish explorer Martin de Goiti traveled up the western Mindoro coast to attack Muslim settlements in Mamburao and Lubang. These settlements were allegedly harassing the settlements under Spanish rule in northern Panay Island.

The island of Mindoro, together with Lubang, was put under the jurisdiction of the province of Balayan, or Bombon in 1581. In the early 17th century, Mindoro was constituted as a separate corregimiento. Moro raiders ravaged the island and depopulated most of the western coast. Mamburao and Balete (near present-day Sablayan) became important points from where raids on surrounding Visayan and Luzon settlements were launched. The Spaniards destroyed the Moro settlement at Mamburao in 1770 but raiding continued until the middle of the 19th century.

Mindoro was annexed to the province of Marinduque in June 1902, but was made a special province in November of the same year. Mindoro became a regular province through Act No. 2964 on February 20, 1921. On June 13, 1950, the island was divided into two provinces through the passage of Republic Act No. 505.

 

People, Culture and the Arts

About 70% of the people living in Occidental Mindoro are Tagalogs. Ilocanos account for 15% while settlers from the Visayas account for about 10%. Mangyans account for the rest. Occidental Mindoro is migrant territory with many families tracing their roots to other provinces. This was the result of government programs in the mid-20th century encouraging settlement in sparsely inhabited regions. The province is also home to the Sablayan Penal Farm that has also drawn settlers to work and live in the province. As a result, different ethnic communities have come to live in Occidental Mindoro.

In the interior highlands live the indigenous Mangyan peoples of Mindoro. These docile peoples are slash and burn agriculturists who occasionally trade with lowlanders. During market day, groups of Mangyans sometimes descend upon the marketplace to exchange forest products for cloth, metal and other necessities. The Iraya Mangyans live mostly in settlements along the northern border with Oriental Mindoro. This culturally distinct group is noted for their fine basket tradition, which they embellish with octagonal designs.

 

Trade and Investments

Occidental Mindoro positions itself as a major source of agricultural products at the gates of the country's premiere growth area. The province holds the record of being the Southern Tagalog Region's leading rice producer Aside from rice, the province also produces corn, coconut, tobacco, garlic, mango, banana, melons and peanuts. The province still holds vast expanses of land suitable for agriculture. Its many freshwater ponds produce high-quality "Mindoro Bangus", while its offshore waters teem with tuna, grouper and octopus. Occidental Mindoro is also known for high-quality beef. Limestone, guano, chromite, jade, quartz, talc, and asbestos exist in deposits in the province. The provnice's more than 350,000 residents provide adequate manpower for present industries.

Abra de Ilog is a mere two hours from Batangas City by ferry and accommodates medium sized roll on/roll off cargo ships. There are ports in Mamburao, Sablayan and San Jose. There are 1,600 kilometers of roads mainly along the coast of the province that interlink the towns. Three existing airports and regular commuter service between San Jose and Manila facilitate air travel. Power, water and telecommunication facilities are adequate to meet current demand.

The main opportunity for business lies in increasing productivity and facilitating access to larger markets. The proximity of Occidental Mindoro to CALABARZON is a decidedly major advantage. Improving the infrastructure to facilitate better transport of goods is a focal concern. Agricultural production and agri-industrial pursuits can bank on the province's record as an excellent performer. Rice milling and trading as well as providing support services and facilities for farmers are sure to pay good dividends. High value crop raising, cattle raising, and aquaculture also remain very attractive ventures. Processing fruit, fish, prawns and nuts, feedmilling, gemstone and marble finishing, handicrafts, toys and gifts manufacture are some of the light industries that can make use of abundant and available resources. Tourism is another bright area for investments. The province is home to many natural attractions such as the Apo Reef Marine National Park, Pandan Grande Island and Mount Iglit National Park. The province has remained rarely visited, but better transportation is expected to increase tourist arrivals and the demand for facilities and services.

Region

Southern Tagalog

Province

Occidental Mindoro

Capital

Mamburao

Labor Force (1998)

171,000

Land area

5,866 sq. kms.

Major dialects/languages

Tagalog, Ilocano

No. of Barangays

162

Municipalities

(11) MAMBURAO, Abra de Ilog, Calintaan, Looc, Lubang, Magsaysay, Paluan, Rizal, Sablayan, San Jose, Sta. Cruz

Infrastructure facilities

Hospitals (1996): 8, Coll./Univ. (1995): 4

Bgy. Health stations (1996): 56

 

Major products

Palay, coconut, fruits, rootcrops, vegetables

Natural resources

Chromite, iron, lime, silica, tale, marble, salt, sand and gravel, stone, cobbles and boulders, forests, diverse wildlife, pasture and agricultural lands, offshore fishing grounds

Location & General Info

Occidental Mindoro... is accessible to other provinces by boat and some airplane service.   It is located on the backside of the large island facing the China Sea and away from mainstream traffic.  Abra de Ilog on its northern tip is two hours by boat from Batangas; San Jose, the principal town, is some 50 minutes by plane from Manila; and Mamburao, the capital town, is only 45 minutes by plane from mainland Luzon.  Occidental Mindoro has five seaports and four airports, and is a trading center for the Visayas region. The operation of the Batangas International Port will hopefully be a breakthrough for the province and will open doors for more forward and backward linkages. Still in the infancy stage of agro-industrialization, Occidental Mindoro is wide open for investors and offers less competition. Beside the China Sea, the province is at positioned to take advantage of national and international shipping routes.

Above all, Occidental Mindoro is a believeing for a booming economy. At the threshold of increasing industrialization and urbanization, investors have a wider option to choose from a variety of attractive-investment packages. Ably portraying the Calabarzon spirit, Occidental Mindoro is a major player in the MIMAROPA, a designated growth area that includes the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. MIMAROPA aims to complement the tourism, food and agri-based requirements of the Southern Tagalog, Southern Visayas and the National Capital Region.

Provincial Infrastructure and Services

Roads & Bridges

Occidental Mindoro is the western half of the island of Mindoro. Some 25 kilometers south of Batangas, its potential lies in its proximity to Batangas and Manila.  Road arteries within the province total some 1,633 kilometers concentrated along the coastal areas - a combination of concrete, asphalt, gravel and earth. About 200 bridges span various creeks and rivers built mostly of concrete and steel.

Power Supply

Electric power is supplied by the National Power Corporation and the Island Power Corporation (IPC) through the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (OMECO), while the island municipalities of Lubang and Looc are supplied by the Lubang Electric Cooperative (LUBELCO). The power supply is still inadequate, and plans are underway to increase the supply through private capital intervention.

Transport Facilities

The province has four ports of entry. The port at Abra de Ilog could accommodate medium-size roll on/roll off passenger-cargo ships. It is two hours away by ship from Batangas and 31.4 kilometers from the capital town of Mamburao. Other ports are located in Mamburao, Sablayan, and the busy town of San Jose.
 

Land transport within the province is facilitated by 3,500 public utility vehicles (buses, cargo trucks, jeepneys and tricycles). A number of jeepneys offer "door to door" direct transport and cargo service from the different municipalities to Manila and neighboring provinces. Air link is provided by three airports in San Jose, which could accommodate B737-300 jets, and the Mamburao and Lubang airports suited for military aircraft, commercial planes and Fokker 50s.

Communication Facilities

In key municipalities, the direct dial telephone system is in place, providing easy access to other provinces and countries. The use of two-way radios and cellular phone is popular among businesses with operations in the interior of the province. Globe Telecom, RCPI, PT&T and Digitel offer telephone and fax services. The provincial government has also installed intermunicipality telephone and radio systems in the nine towns of the province's mainland.

Media/Handling Services

Two local radio stations operate in the area together with four local newspapers and 23 television channels accessed through five cable networks. National newspapers arrive daily via regular plane flights from Manila, and mail handling services are provided by the Philippine Airlines, LBC, JRS, Aboitiz and other messengerial companies besdies the 12 post offices located in the 11 municipalities.

Financial Institutions

Land Bank of the Philippines
-San Jose Branch
-Sablayan Branch
-Mamburao Branch
Philippine National Bank
-San Jose Branch
-Mamburao Branch
Development Bank of the Philippines
Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.
United Coconut Planters Bank
-San Jose Branch
-Sablayan Branch
First Allied Bank
Rural Banks.

Accommodations

Newcomers to the place can avail of food and accommodation services offered by the existing hotels and beach resorts. In few municipalities where hotel services are not available "homestay" accommodations may be provided by a friend or the host. Apart from the facilities for conventions, seminars, meetings and trainings
offered by a number of hotels and resorts, the newly opened gymnasium in San Jose and the Provincial Training Center and Astrodome in Sablayan are available for business meetings, sports activities and other functions.