|Region||MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)|
|Governor||Perpetuo B. Ylagan|
|Area|| 1,355.9 km²|
|Total (2000)|| 264,357|
Romblon is a province in the Philippines consisting of 20 islands, politically situated in the Southern Tagalog region but geographically located in Western Visayas. It is part of the MIMAROPA area of Region Four (the other half of the region being the CALABARZON area). It is known as the “Marble Capital” of the Philippines because it produces high quality marble said to be comparable to that from Italy.
Area and Climate
Romblon has a land area of 1,355.9 square kilometers and a population of 279,774 as per the 2007 census. The province is comprised of 17 municipalities divided into 213 barangays, most of which are agricultural.
There are three main islands in the province. The largest island, Tablas, is divided into nine municipalities and is the most densely populated. One of the municipalities is Tugdan, where the Tugdan Airport is located. Because of its large land area, Tablas is the leading producer of crops in the province.
Since the province is a small archipelago, it is bounded by the Sibuyan Sea and the Tablas Strait. The provinces bordering it are Marinduque and Quezon to the north, Mindoro to the west, Aklan to the south, and Masbate to the east. It is accessible by air from Manila to Tugdan Airport, or by taking a ship from the ports of Batangas and Lucena.
Romblon's climate is more pleasant than its mainland counterparts, as it has no pronounced wet or dry seasons. The southwestern monsoon, however, arrives in between June and November, October being the most rainy. Temperatures in the province average at 27 degrees Celsius but may drop as low as 20 degrees Celsius in February and rise as high as 35 degrees Celsius in May.
Before the Spaniards arrived to colonize the Philippines, Romblon had already been occupied by Negritos from Panay and Mangyans from Mindoro, then later by Malay settlers. There are speculations that Romblon had been occupied since the neolithic ages because of an artifact: a black stone adze which was allegedly found in Odiongan although its provenance was unconfirmed.
One story about the origin of the name Romblon cites an incident said to have occurred after the arrival of the Spaniards in the area. The story says that one of the Spaniards was scouting for food and found a hut. Seeing a hen brooding near the house's window, he asked the owner if he could have it. The young woman did not understand him and replied “Nagalomlom” (the hen was sitting on her eggs). The man, unable to take the chicken, returned to the ship; when asked where he had been, he replied: “Nagalomlom!” The Spaniards later used the term to refer to the island. Over the years, “Nagalomlom” was corrupted to “Lomlon”, then “Domblon,” and finally “Romblon,” which became the name of the province. Miguel de Loarca mentions the place “Domlon” in his 1582 census.
The Augustinian Recollects established Christianity in three towns--Banton, Romblon, and Cajidiocan--in 1635. However, the area was plagued with Muslim pirates that attacked the villages. Thus, in 1650, the Spaniards erected a fort in Romblon and another on Banton Island.
Romblon was included in the province of Capiz in 1818; it was reorganized into a politico-military commandancia in 1853.
The Japanese occupied Romblon in 1942, until the province was liberated after the naval Battle of Sibuyan on 24 October 1945.
The end of the war marked the start of the area's rehabilitation. In 1947, Romblon regained its provincial status and its municipalities as of 1940 were restored.
Although Romblon is part of Southern Luzon, the Rombloanon way of life is almost completely Visayan; thus, they have forms of art that are different from those of their Tagalog counterparts. Rombloanons are also known to be hardworking, religious and education-oriented.
Rombloanons have their own dialect, which sometimes distinguishes them when speaking other languages because of the hard accent. There are other major Visayan dialects such as Asi and Onhan. However, languages such as Tagalog and English are used in transactions.
About one-third of the population is Catholic, while the rest are independent churches including Iglesia ni Cristo, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Foursquare Gospel. Although branched into several religions, most of the population still celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño – a tradition started in 1521. The tribute to Señor Sto. Niño is celebrated in conjunction with the town fiesta called 'Biniray Festival', which is a display of floral splendor held every 9th of January.
Romblon's location places it along the path of typhoons that pass through the archipelago. Because of this, Romblon cannot depend on agriculture alone.
Most of Romblon's agricultural produce is allotted for domestic consumption. The province's mountainous terrain however allows the locals to grow and harvest highland fruits and produce 'rattan', 'buri', and 'nito'. Another source of income is its waters, where fishermen catch fish like tunas and groupers, and export them to Manila or CALABARZON.
Romblon also manufactures copra, 'raffia' and native crafts made from bamboo. In addition to handicrafts, the people make a living from basketry, through a unique style of weaving called “roping.” Many Rombloanons are also engaged in producing high-quality materials from leaf and vine weaves such as 'kokolongkoy', 'nito', 'buri', 'malipali', 'ungali,' and 'sagagap' that are made into purses, hats, boxes, jars, bowls, and trays.
Romblon, however, is best known for its marble industry. While most of the deposits are found in Conbrador and Tablas, the amount of marble is said to be so massive that it can last at least 20 years of everyday digging.
Experts have so far identified at least 24 varieties of marble found in at least 158 more shades. Since the quarry was only established in the early 1900s, there are about five popular types of marble currently being dug:the Carrara, Pentellic, Golden Romblon, Bardilli, and Romblon Green Onyx.
Aside from marble, it has also been found that the province is rich in kaolin clay, nickel, magnetism, quartz, silica, zinc, limestone, and other ores such as copper and silver.
Other sources of livelihood are the numerous manufacturing industries under farming, fishing and mining. In fact, the marble quarried from the mines is transformed into various floor tiles, wall panels, and pillars. Aside from construction materials, marble is also crafted into decorative furniture such as ashtrays, miniature figurines, bowls, and vases, as well as pen holders, globes, and the like. Many of them find their way at souvenir or specialty shops in tourist destinations such as Manila and Boracay, among others.
Lastly, tourism is a growing industry in Romblon, courtesy of its natural wonders and beauty. Visitors are often brought to Mt. 'Guiting-Guiting', 'Tinagong Dagat' (lit. Hidden Sea), Bonbon Beach, Romblon Bay, Carabao Island, 'Calatrava', 'Mablatan Falls', Mainit Falls, Garing Falls, and hot springs in 'Concuera' and 'Banton'. Coral reefs are also an attraction in the islands of 'Logbon', 'Alad' and 'Cobrador'. There are man-made destinations such as the Spanish military garrison: Fort San Andres, the Sunken Spanish Garrison, Cawayan Park, Trangkalan Grotto, and Punta Gorda Stairways.
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- Active Stats for MIMAROPA. National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippines, Official Website. (Accessed on 8 April 2011.)
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- Industries and Investments. Romblon Travel Guide. (Accessed on 19 August 2010).
- Local Government. Romblon Travel Guide. (Accessed on 19 August 2010).
- Mimaropa Region stretches from Batangas in the north to almost Borneo in the south! Philippines Travel Guide. (Accessed on 23 August 2010).
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