Occidental Mindoro is a province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA regionin Luzon. Its capital is Mamburao and occupies the western half of the island of Mindoro, on the west by Apo East Pass, and on the south by the Mindoro Strait; 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, acrossMindoro Strait. Batangas is to the north, separated by the Verde Island Passage.
Map of the Philippines with Occidental Mindoro
General land surface features that characterize Occidental Mindoro are mountains, rivers, hills, valleys, wide plains and some small fresh water lakes. The taller mountains can be found in the interior that it shares with Oriental Mindoro. Mountain ranges converge on the two central peaks, namely Mount Halcon in the north, and Mount Baco in the south. There is also a mountain known asbundok ng susong dalaga, the "Maiden's breast mountain", that looks like a reclined woman.
The northern part of the province has relatively fewer plains, while the southern parts have wider flatlands. Most of the plains are cultivated fields, with few remaining untouched forests. Significant hilly areas can be found rolling off in Sta Cruz in the north, and in San Jose and Magsaysay in the south. These are grassed-over rather than forested.
There are several major drainage or river systems flowing on a generally westerly course: Mamburao river, Pagbahan, Mompong, Biga, Lumintao, Busuanga and Caguray. Swamp areas are restricted to the south, specially, along the river mouths.
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 was formally called Mait, and known to the Chinese traders before the coming of the Spanish. Its existence was mentioned in the old Chinese chronicles in 775 A.D. and more elaborately 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. In 1570, the Spanish began to explore the island and named it Mina de Oro (mine of gold) after finding some of the precious metal, though no major gold discoveries were ever made.
The natives of Mindoro were called Manguianes by the Spaniards. But the natives refer to themselves by their ethnic or clan identification. There were seven such ethnic or clan distinctions, which are differentiated by language and areas where each can be found.
The Mangyans, as they are now anthropologically known, do not have a warrior society. They are a peaceful, shy but friendly people. They are rarely known to be hostile, and have had no significant record of violent conflict with other people in the entire history of the province. They grow root crops in forest clearings (slah and burn farms), and hunted wild animals in the forest for their meat needs.
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 They hopped from island to island, until finally settling down permanently in Mindoro. It appeared that clan settlements existed in the North as well as in the southern ends of the island. By 779, the southwest coast of the island was already a known trading center, and its fine natural harbor frequented by Arab, Indian and Chinese maritime traders who plied the route. But there was no attempt of subjugation, just trading.
The first semblance of a political system in Mindoro's experience was provided by China in the 13th century. Chinese imperial forces under Admiral Cheng Ho with a powerful armada of 60 war junks visited Mindoro and other parts of the archipelago in the 13th century, with the purpose of gaining more trading favors for Chinese merchants.
For a time, Admiral Ho tried to exert some effort of rule as a prelude to Sino annexation. Internal trouble in the Chinese home front, however, recalled the armada, and the attempts of the empire to annex the archipelago did not materialize.
Some time after the Ho overture, Islamic influence reached the island, probably, through Suluanons who traded with the natives. Moslem peoples, possibly - Orang Dampuans (economic refugees from Sulu)crossed Mindoro Strait from Paragua (now Palawan) and settled along the coastal areas, developing progressive maritime communities.
In 1572, Captain Juan de Salcedo of the Spanish expeditionary army set sail from Cebu and explored the West coast of the island, encountering the Mangyans, who appeared used to seeing foreigners and were not at all a bit surprised at their arrival. On the contrary, it was he and Martin de Goiti who were surprised to see cross designs on the clothing and basketwork of the natives, and thought some early Christian missionary had been there before them. But later scholars believed the design was Indic in origin and had no religious meaning.
They also encountered moro settlers in Lubang Island that were vassals of and paid tribute to the kingdom of Maynila in the North, under Raha Sulaiman. This was the first real political system in the island. The moros, who apparently have heard of the invaders from their kinsmen in the south, engaged the small Spanish force who landed on their shore, but the Spaniards' arquebuses, and cannon fire from the ships hoved-to broadside to the Island, took the field. The moros fled to the hills, and Salcedo burned their village.
The present Occidental Mindoro is an agricultural area devoted to the production of food. It 's economic base is rice production (Oryza sativa culture), a Philippine staple crop. It is the leading activity and source of seasonal employment in the province, participated in by almost 80 per cent of the population, including children.
Wet land or lowland rice is a rainy season crop, being heavily dependent on water, and therefore produced from July (planting season) to October (harvest season). Tobacco, onions, garlic and vegetables are rather grown during the dry season (November to May)since they are not water-intensive crops, and require longer photoperiodicity.
Rice, corn, onions, garlic, salt, fishes(both wild water and cultured) are some of the relatively significant surpluses produced in the province in exportable quantities. Mangoes, cashew nuts, cooking bananas (saba) and some other fruits grown in upland orchards are among the other exports of Occidental Mindoro that have traditionally contributed to its income. Peanuts are also comfortably grown in some parts of the province, as well as cassava, sweet potatoes, ginger and other minor cultivars.
Forest resources include timber and minerals, among them gold, copper, silver, chrome, and non-metallic minerals such as lime for making cement, and greenstones for ornaments. Timber groups include many species of hardwoods, such as mahogany, and other types of trees in high demand for durability.
There are no large industries in the province. The government is the biggest employer, absorbing most of the off-farm labor force. The local electric cooperative, Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (OMECO), is the biggest employer in the private sector, with nearly 150 regular employees. The rest of the population are engaged in private trades.
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