Division of Occidental Mindoro
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, 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.
Occidental Mindoro is subdivided into 11 municipalities.
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 km▓. Major languages spoken are Tagalog, Ilokano, Visaya, Kapampangan, Bicolano, 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 traveled 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.
The present Occidental Mindoro is an agricultural area devoted to the production of food. Its 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.
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. 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 home to one of the more popular coral reefs in the Philippines, Apo Reef. 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. Swamp areas are restricted to the south, specially, along the river mouths.