Occidental Mindoro is a province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA region in Luzon. "Home of the Indigenous Mangyans". 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, across Mindoro Strait. Batangas is to the north, separated by the Verde Island Passage.
Mindoro, formerly called Mait, was known to Chinese traders even before the coming of the Spanish. 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. Missionaries became active around Ilin Island off the southern tip, Lubang Island off the northern tip, and Mamburao. Moro raids later forced them to abandon these places. In 1754, the Muslims established strongholds in Mamburao and Balete (near Sablayan). From there, they launched raids against nearby settlements. An expedition sent by Governor Simon de Anda put an end to these raids.
In the early years, Mindoro was administered as part of Bonbon, now Batangas. Early in the 17th century, the island was separated from Bonbon and orga- nized into a corregimiento. In 1902 the island of Lubang, which was formerly a part of Cavite, was annexed to Mindoro. In the same year Mindoro and Lubang were annexed to Marinduque when the latter became a regular province. Mindoro became a regular province in 1921. On June 13, 1950, under Republic Act No. 505, Mindoro was divided into two provinces, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental 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 Mt. Halcon in the North, and Mt. Baco in the South. There is also a mountain known as bundok 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.
There are several major drainage or river systems flowing on a generally westerly course: Mamburao river, Pagbahan, Mompong, Biga, Lumintao, Busuanga and Caguray.
The province is also the home of the most popular coral reefs in the Philippines, Apo Reef.
Occidental Mindoro has two distinct weather types: rainy season and dry season. Rains begin to fall in the province in late May, intensifying through June, July, August, September and October, then gradually subsides in November. The months of August and September are the wettest period, with storms directly passing through the area.
On the other hand, the dry season starts in November, with rainfall subsiding in intensity, and altogether ceasing in January, February, March and April. March and April are the driest period, with cloudless skies and parched earth characterizing the general area.
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, Ma˝guianes 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 many evidences, historical and geophysical, 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, to avoid cultural altercation which brought diseases to them, and to preserve their way of life.
Today, Mangyans number to only around 80,000 (freely moving in and out in both provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro). But there is no accurate accounting of them since many still live elusively in the upper regions of the island, avoiding contact with lowlanders.
Occidental Mindoro is politically governed by a Provincial Governor, as in other provinces and municipal mayors. And it is subdivided into 11 municipalities.
ABRA DE ILOG