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This article is about the Philippine island. For other uses, see Mindoro (disambiguation).
Ph locator map mindoro.png
Map of Mindoro
Mindoro is located in Philippines
Mindoro (Philippines)
Location South East Asia
Archipelago Philippines
Major islands Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Palawan
Area 10,572 km2 (4,082 sq mi)
Area rank 74th
Highest elevation 2,582 m (8,471 ft)
Highest point Halcon
Province Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro
Largest city San Jose, Occidental Mindoro (pop. 131,188)
Population 1,238,573 (as of 2010)
Density 117.2 /km2 (303.5 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Mangyan, Tagalog

Mindoro (Tagalog pronunciation: [mɪnˈdoɾo]) is the seventh-largest island in the Philippines. It is located off the coast of Luzon, and northeast of Palawan. The southern coast of Mindoro forms the northeastern extremum of the Sulu Sea.[1]


In past times, it has been called Mai or Mait by Chinese traders and, by Spaniards, as Mina de Oro (meaning "gold mine") from where the island got its current name. The island was once a single province from 1920 to 1950 when it was divided into its two present-day provinces, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro.

According to the late historian William Henry Scott,[2] an entry in the official history of the Sung Dynasty for the year 972 mentions Ma-i as a trading partner of China. Other Chinese records referring to Ma-i or Mindoro appear in the years that follow.

Prehispanic Source Materials enumerates the products that Mindoro traders exchanged with the Chinese as "beeswax, cotton, true pearls, tortoise shell, medicinal betelnuts and yu-ta [jute?] cloth" for Chinese porcelain, trade gold, iron pots, lead, colored glass beads and iron needles.

The island was the location of the Battle of Mindoro in World War II.


The term Mangyan is actually a collective term for the various ethnic groups living in Mindoro. They are composed of the Iraya, Alangan ,Tadyawan, Tau-buid, Bangon, Buhid, Hanunuo, and Ratagnon. Each group has their own distinct names, language, and set of customs. Generally, their belief is close to animism. They live in simple houses made of bamboo, thatched roofs, and raised floors or is on stilts.

The Mangyans were once the only inhabitants of Mindoro. Being coastal dwellers at first, they have moved inland and into the mountains to avoid the influx and influence of foreign settlers such as the Tagalogs, the Spanish and their conquests and religious conversion, and raids by the Moro (they raided Spanish settlements for religious purposes, and to satisfy the demand for slave labor). Today, the Mangyans live secludedly in remote parts of Mindoro but eventually comes down to the lowlands in order to make usual trades. Their sustenance are farming for their own crops, fruits, and hunting. A certain group of Mangyans living in Southern Mindoro call themselves as Hanunuo Mangyans, meaning “true”, “pure” or “genuine,” a term that they use to stress the fact that they are strict in the sense of ancestral preservation of tradition and practices. [3][4]


Beach in Northern Mindoro

Before the Spaniards arrived in Mindoro, the people traded with the Chinese extensively, with thousands of supporting archaeological evidences found in Puerto Galera and in Written Chinese references. A division was created among the people of Mindoro when the Spaniards came. There were the Iraya Mangyans, who isolated themselves from the culture of the Spaniards, and the lowland Christians who submitted themselves to a new belief system. These two groups only interacted for economic matters through trading forest goods from the Mangyan and consumer goods for the lowlanders. [5][6]

The economy of Mindoro is largely based on agriculture. Products consist of a wide variety of fruits, such as citrus, bananas, lanzones, rambutan, and coconuts, such cereals as rice and maize, sugar cane, peanuts, fish (catfish, milkfish, tilapia), livestock, and poultry. Logging and the mining of marble and copper also thrive.

Tourism is a lucrative business as well, with locations such as Apo Reef National Park, Lubang Island, Puerto Galera, Sabang Beach, and Mount Halcon. Puerto Galera's beaches are the island's most known tourist attraction and are widely visited.


Despite being grouped as one tribe, Mangyans differ in many ways. In comparison to the technological advance between the two geographical divisions, the Southern tribes are more advanced as seen in their use of weaving, pottery and system of writing. The Northern tribes, on the other hand, are simpler in their way of living. Their language just like the whole Philippines came from the Austronesian language family. However, even if they are defined as one ethnic group the tribes used different languages. On the average, they only share 40% of their vocabulary words on their mutual languages. The tribes have also varied physical and ethnogenetic appearances: Iraya has Veddoid features; Tadyawan are mainly Mongoloid; and the Hanunuo looks like a Proto-Malayan.

Another difference between tribes is the date of their arrival in the Philippines. Theory suggests that the Southern tribes are already present by 900 AD while the Northern tribes are believed to have arrived hundreds of years ahead of their Southern peers. The Spanish authorities have documented their existence since their arrival in the 16th century. However, historians suggest that the Mangyans may have been the first Filipinos to trade with the Chinese. Examples of these are seen in the burial caves as porcelains and other potteries abound. However, not much ethnographic research has been made except for the tribal and linguistic differences that may lead to the indication that the tribes can be treated separately.

Mangyans lived in peaceful societies as compared to the head hunting tribes of North Luzon and the brave defiant warrior tribes of the South. Social scientists theorized that some societies become peaceful because their system of norms and values reward peaceful behavior but disapprove aggressive and impulsive behaviors. Peaceful societies are characterized by egalitarian social organization without status competition between men and without asymmetric relationship between men and women. Another theory posited that populations adapt, therefore, offering a more logical explanation why Mangyans preferred to retreat in the hinterlands. They accept peaceful submissiveness when they encounter lowland settlers, missionaries, traders and government officials.[7]

The principal language in Mindoro is Tagalog, although in some parts it has been greatly influenced by the native Visayan and Mangyan languages. Mainstream Filipino and Taglish are, indeed, present in and around such areas as Puerto Galera, Pinamalayan, and Calapan City. Visayan and Mangyan languages, too, are spoken on the island, as are Ilokano and some foreign languages — e.g., English, Fukien, and, to a much lesser extent, Spanish.

The common religions on the island fall under Christianity. The religion of the indigenous Mangyan population is animism. Though they are into animism as a religion, the Catholic Church in some of Mindoro's parts is also active.


The indigenous Mangyans offer a myriad of culturally rich artefacts that give insight to their culture and trade. The people living in Southern Mindoro during the pre-Hispanic era are exceptional in their weaving, pottery, and system of writing. Their clothing differs from gender to gender. The male generally wears loincloths as covering for the lower body whereas the female would wear a skirt and a shirt for the top. The terms and materials would differ from tribe to tribe, but the exceptional designs would come from the Hanunuos. Their textiles are dyed in indigo blue and has an embroidery design called pakudos at the back and can also be found on their woven bags.

Their system of writing, called Surat Mangyan, is a pre-Hispanic syllabic system and is believed to be of Indic origin. It is still practiced today and is still being taught in different Mangyan schools of Oriental Mindoro. The Hanunuos also practice their own traditional poetry called the Ambahan, a rhythmic poetic expression with a meter of seven syllables presented through recitation and chanting or is inscribed on bamboo.[8][9][10]

Other information[edit]

Mindoro is also home to the Tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo (Bubalus mindorensis), which is endemic to the island. The Tamaraw is a bovine related to the water buffalo and is an endangered species.



  1. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Sulu Sea
  2. ^ Scott, William Henry. (1984). "Societies in Prehispanic Philippines". Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 971-10-0226-4. 
  3. ^ http://phch.eccmanila.org/tribal.html
  4. ^ http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/56477/1/KJ00000131731.pdf
  5. ^ Lopez, V. B. (1976). The Mangyans of Mindoro: An ethnohistory (1st ed.). Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.
  6. ^ Bawagan, A. B. (2009). Customary Justice System among the Iraya Mangyans of Mindoro. AGHAMTAO: Journal of Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT), Volume 17, 16.
  7. ^ http://www.artesdelasfilipinas.com/archives/139/the-culture-and-art-of-the-mangyan
  8. ^ http://www.artesdelasfilipinas.com/archives/139/the-culture-and-art-of-the-mangyan
  9. ^ http://www.mangyan.org/content/mangyan-syllabic-script
  10. ^ http://www.mangyan.org/content/ambahan

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 12°55′49″N 121°05′41″E / 12.93028°N 121.09472°E / 12.93028; 121.09472