Occidental Mindoro (Filipino: Kanlurang Mindoro, “Western Mindoro”; Spanish: Mindoro Occidental) is a province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA region in Luzon. Its capital is Mamburao and occupies the western half of the island of Mindoro; Oriental Mindoro is at the eastern half. The South China Sea is to the west of the province and Palawan is located to the southwest, across Mindoro Strait. Batangas is to the north, separated by the Verde Island Passage.
|Region||MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)|
|Area|| 5,879.9 km²|
|Total (2000)|| 380,250|
Occidental Mindoro is subdivided into 11 municipalities.
|City/Municipality|| No. of
|Abra de Ilog|
The population of Occidental Mindoro is 380,250 as of the 2000 census, making it the country's 21st least populated province. The population density is 65 persons per km². Major languages spoken are Tagalog, Ilokano, Visaya, Kapampangan, Bikolano, Mangyan, and other mainstream languages in the country. Occidental Mindoro is a cultural melting pot, populated mostly by recent immigrants.
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 travelled from Indonesia and settled down for good in the island.
There have been recent studies that Mangyans were formerly living near the coastlines, but they were compelled to move into the interior jungles of the island when the Spanish colonizers came.
The economy of Occidental Mindoro is largely rice-based. Approximately more than 80 per cent of the population is dependent on rice farming as a major source of income. For this reason, around 2/3 of the people can be found residing in the farming villages, where they could be near the farms.
The performance of rice cropping season dictates the highs and lows of businesses in the town centers, which are often characterized by the local color saying "matumal" (poor sales) or "mabenta" (good sales), implying the financial condition of the people, or referring to their purchasing power.
Rice marketing is supported by the government through the National Food Corporation (NFA) which has several strategically located buying stations in the province. There are also big private corporations buying rice, the biggest and most established among them being Valiant Rice Milling Corporation, owned by a Chinese family originally from Isabela province. It is rumored that the private traders lumped together corners approxiamately 75 per cent of the volume harvested, while the NFA claims otherwise.
Other crops besides rice are corn, onions, garlic, ginger, tobacco, and vegetables. Most of these are alternative crops, replacing rice during the dry season. Tobacco, garlic and onions are grown in the South, particularly, the towns of San Jose and Magsaysay. Tobacco is supported by private corporations maintaining buying stations in San Jose, the biggest of which is Fortune Tobacco Corporation owned by Lucio Tan.
Other agricultural produce include salt, milkfish, prawns, crabs, and other aquatic resources in different production levels. It is estimated that the province supplies 40 per cent of the table salts in the country, mostly coming from San Jose and Magsaysay.
Milled rice is currently being imported from San Jose in large volumes to Panay island by traders from Ilo-Ilo, and to Manila by several local large rice exporters.
Since the province also has a long coastline, fishing in the wild waters of the Mindoro Strait is also a significant economic activity. However, like everywhere else, many fishing grounds are yielding fewer and fewer fish catch. In a difference of only thirty years, the average production average for a marginal fisherman dwindled from 20 kilograms a day to under 2 kilograms in 2006.
There are many multi-faceted problems in Occidental Mindoro's economy. In rice farming, the biggest confronting the producers are the high cost of production. This is attributed mainly to the spiraling prices of farm inputs. A study concludes that from 1997 to 2003, the cost of production rose by 47 per cent, while the income derived from marketing rice has maintained 1997 levels. There are also confused reports that the average production rate has declined due to the reduced application of necessary farm chemicals. In street language, this means that the farmers simply cut the amount of inputs because they cannot afford the high capital requirements of following all the recommended inputs in the farming calendar.
Another structural problem is the inadequacy of irrigation. Most of the river systems in the province no longer have the demanded volume of water to make irrigation feasible. This is attributed to the greatly deforested watersheds.
In the fishing industry, one of the serious causes of depletion in the fish catch is overfishing. Since 1965, fishing fleets from other parts of the country have joined the locals in the fishing grounds. It was aggravated by the use of environment-destructive methods, disabling the marine resources to replenish. Other causes of the low fish population is the destruction of habitant, particularly, mangrove forests and corral reefs.
Occidental Mindoro has two distinct types of seasons, dry and wet. The wet season starts in June and lasts to October. The dry season begins in November and ends in May It is wettest in July, August and September. It is driest in March and April.
The island is mountainous, with ranges converging on the two central peaks, namely Mt. Halcon in the North, and Mt. Baco in the South. The northern part of the province has relatively fewer plains, while the southern parts have wider flatlands.
The political history of Occidental Mindoro necessarily begins with the commercial history of Mindoro Island. Mindoro Island was originally known to the ancients as Ma-i. It's existence was mentioned in the old Chinese chronicles in 775 A.D.and more elaboratedly in 1225. It was a major anchorage in the Southeast Asia trade route during the pre-Philippines period. Chinese, Arab and Indian merchants traded with the natives.
The natives of Mindoro were called Manguianes by the Spaniards. But the natives themselves called themselves by their ethnic or clan identification. There were seven such ethnic or clan distinctions. The Mangyans, as they are now anthropologically known, do not have a warrior society. They are a peaceful, shy but friendly people.
There are no authentic documents in existence explaining the original stock of the Mangyan people, but later theoreticians postulate that they migrated from Indonesia before 775 A.D. In 779, the southwest coast of the island was already a flourishing trading center, and its natural harbor was known to Arab, Indian and Chinese maritime traders.
The first grain of politics in Mindoro was provided by China. Chinese imperial forces under Admiral Cheng Ho with a powerful armada of 60 war junks visited Mindoro in the 13th century (and other parts of the archipelago) to gain trading favors for Chinese merchants by display of Chinese power. For a time, Admiral Ho tried to exert some effort of rule as a prelude to Sino governance. Internal trouble in the Chinese home front recalled the armada, and the attempts of the empire to annex the archipelago did not materialize.
In 1572, Captain Juan de Salcedo of the Spanish expeditionary army, operating from Cebu, explored the West coast of the island, and encountered the Mangyans. He and Martin de Goiti were surprised to see cross designs on the clothing and basketwork of the natives, and thought a disciple of Christ or some early missionary had been there. But later scholars believed the design was Indic in origin and had no religious meaning.
They also encountered moro settlers that were vassals of and paid tribute to the kingdom of Maynilad in the North, under Raha Sulaiman. This was the first real political affiliation in the island. The enraged moros engaged the Spaniards for intruding, but gun and cannon fire from the ships took the field. The moros fled to the hills. Salcedo burned their villages.
After the defeat of Sulaiman, and the subsequent Spanish rule, Mindoro and other vassal states of Maynilad became subject of Castillan rule. The island was officially referred to from then on as Mina de Oro (mine of gold), compressed later on into Mindoro. The free land name Ma-i fell into disuse, replaced by the colonial place name.
Mindoro, however, never came fully under the control of the Spaniards until a few years before the end of Spanish reign in the archipelago. It remained within the sphere of moro influence until towards the end of the Spanish rule. The island was strategically located, because it was near enough to disrupt the political and commercial domination of Spain in the colony, but far away enough for sanctuary from reprisals.
In 1602, Moro forces plundered the most important Spanish towns along the coasts of Mindoro and Southern Luzon, and subsequently reestablished their hold in Mindoro by constructing a fort at Mamburao. From 1720 onwards Moro raids became devastating not only to the island's Hispanized communities but to other parts of the archipelago as well.
In 1757, the Moros, more particualrly, the Iranuns (a relative of the Maranaws of the Lake Lanao regions) organized a war fleet of 74 fast native ships called prahus they destroyed completely several settlements in the island.
The fact that a Moro fort at Mamburao threatened Manila, embarrassed the conquerors in the eyes of their native subjects, which was politically intolerable to the Spanish colonial government. So in 1766, the Spaniards gathered a large force of 1,200 fully armed marines, augmented by a large army of native mercenaries, and burned the Iranun fort. But the moros simply faded into the hills, and came back when the counter-raid was over and the raiders returned to Manila.
The moros not only plundered goods, but also—more importantly—took prisoners of war which they sold as slaves in the slave auction at Jolo. Many Islamic leaders supported piratical raids with men, arms and food, not only because it was a patriotic act, but this patriotism was also giving them handsome profits. They received part of the "prisoners of war" when a successful raider returns.
It was not until the commission of the vapor, fast steamships, in the mid-18th century that the Spanish navy successfully patrolled the archipelagic waters, and fared well against the fast but wind-powered native seacrafts of the moro pirates. Many pirate fleets were sunk at sea, or confined to their hiding places.
The invention of machines which gradually replaced manual labor, and the consecutive abolitions of Slave ownership in many countries, caused a great decline in the demand for slaves. Many of the pirate markets closed, and prices fell severely for their captives.
With the loss to the Spanish navy inceasing, and the eventual fall in profits from slave selling raiding became less appealable to the Iranuns. Uneconomical patriotism simply did not make a sustainable proposition. The pirates fort in Mamburao was abandoned, and the moros retreated to Mindanao to consolidate their forces and continue the moslem resistance there. Mindoro then became Spanish possession in a truer sense for the firts time. But not for long. In 1896, the Philippine revolution begun, which spread like wildfire throughout the islands..
In 1897, the Spaniards posted a rifle company of 140 troops and 51 marines to Calapan to secure the island from the forces of General Emilio Aguinaldo and his revolutionary army, then beginning to overrun Spanish positions in the archipelago. Only Mindoro was relatively safe. In 1898, the revolutionaries attacked and overwhelmed the settlement that is now Bongabong. The revolution also ignited in the western part (Occidental Mindoro), which seized control of the settlements there from the Spaniards. They marched against Calapan with some 1,000 ill-armed foot soldiers. But the attack came to nothing. The Spanish defenses held. It was only the arrival of 1,000 regular army, with artillery, under General Malvar in Batangas that compelled the surrender of the Spaniards under Governor Morales. Hence on July 1, 1898, the Spanish rule in Mindoro Island, lasting for 328 years, came to an end.
A new battalion "Mindoro", with two rifle companies, was formed under the command of Captain Ruperto Hernandez and Estanislao Cayton, both from Batangas. The revolutionary political reins were held by the elite, who also held the same reins under the Spaniards (and later under the Americans). The revolution, therefore, was a revolution for liberation against colonial rule but not a war for social change.