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Map of Oriental Mindoro showing the location of Puerto Galera
|Region||Mimaropa (Region IV-B)|
|District||1st District of Oriental Mindoro|
|Founded||December 8, 1972|
|• Mayor||Rockey D. Ilagan|
|• Total||247.85 km2 (95.70 sq mi)|
|• Density||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+8)|
|IDD : area code||+63 (0)43|
|Income class||1st Class; Partially Urban|
Puerto Galera is the north-westernmost municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is located at the south-western end of the Isla Verde Passage, about 130 kilometers (81 mi) south of Manila. It is mainly accessible from the Southern Luzon port of Batangas, which is acting as a gateway to the city. Seaplane Operator Air Juan Aviation, Inc. flies 2x daily flights from Manila to Puerto Galera vv. on their Cessna Grand Caravan Seaplanes.
Puerto Galera is 51 kilometres (32 mi) from Calapan.
- San Antonio
- San Isidro (or white beach)
- Santo Niño
|Population census of Puerto Galera|
|Source: Philippine Statistics Authority|
The National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippines characterizes the municipality of Puerto Galera as First Class based on household income. The municipality had a population of 32,521 in the 2010 Census of Population conducted by the National Statistics Office. The population in 2012 was estimated 35,188.
Chinese traders traders possibly knew the place before the arrival of the Spaniards but there is no evidence of Chinese settlement. The place was likely also known by other Southeast Asian merchants, who found it convenient to load and unload trading goods. The State of Ma-i extended to the Puerto Galera area. The bay was a convenient place to shelter ships against bad weather and a warehouse was built to store supplies and trade black rice from Muelle.
In April 1570, the Spaniards arrived in Bombon (now known as Batangas), and later sailed through the Isla Verde passage, landed and called the place Puerto Galera (the port of Galleons). Legazpi, became the first Spanish governor-general of the island. A garrison for soldiers was built in Muelle and watch towers were erected in Dampalitan Point to monitor naval activity in the bay. Spaniards came to conquer for their king and chased the Muslim Moro pirates who were disrupting their trade with the Chinese and the natives. The later proved to be not only skilled warriors but also good negotiators even in the face of defeat.
In 1663, a change in the form of administration occurred in the island, the corregidor was replaced by the alcalde-mayor or provincial governor and the capital was moved from Puerto Galera to Baco. In the seventeenth century, the relative prosperity of the city underwent a serious setback with the rise of Muslim piracy. Both pirates attacks and the mismanagement of the Spaniards resulted in driving the native population either into exile in safer places or sending them inland to comparative safety.
The traditional economy of the city used to be fishing and subsistence agriculture, but with the boom of tourism at the end of the 1970s, the service sector became more and more important and led to population and economic growth. Of the 13 villages ("barangays") in Puerto Galera, half of them now rely on tourism-based activities for sustenance.
Tourism now represents the core activity of the city which is well known for its beaches, scuba diving and entertainment activities, including "go-go bars". The city has also become one of the many sites of the Philippines sex tourism industry.
The town has a number of business and commercial establishments. Candava Supermarket, New Virgo Grocery, Parkway Supermarket, Castillo Store are the popular supermarkets in Puerto Galera. Major banks include Philippine National Bank (PNB) Savings Bank, Rural Bank of Puerto Galera, Maxbank, and other microfinance banks.
In addition, Mindoro is quickly becoming one of the key places in the development of renewable energy in the Philippines. With several large wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal projects under construction, the island hopes to be a net exporter of electricity by 2016.
Telecommunication services are provided by Digital Telecommunications (Digitel), Smart Communications, and Globe. Cable and satellite television operators provide access to local and international broadcasts. Broadband Internet services are likewise available through the numerous internet cafes located in all barangays. Community radio stations Beach.fm and Flazh Radio also operate in the municipality
This coastal town is well known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches and many snorkeling and Scuba diving spots. The area was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reef diving in Asia. The marine environment has benefited in recent years due to income from tourism. This has seen a huge reduction in the number of fishermen in the area, as they gain higher revenue from tourists.
Puerto Galera is included in the list of the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World, and is the only bay in the Philippines to be found there.
Among the beaches in Puerto Galera are Sabang Beach and White Beach, which have an active nightlife with numerous bars and restaurants.
Sabang Beach is the main destination for foreign tourists, while White Beach remains popular with local travelers. Big La Laguna Beach and Small La Laguna Beach are considered part of Sabang with resorts lining the beaches. Big La Laguna Beach is popular for local swimmers and snorkelers. Since 2001, White Beach has seen uncontrolled development. New restaurants and places to stay are rapidly encroaching on the beach itself. The town proper has relatively few attractions. It has a large central Catholic church and a pier area with some dining outlets.
Puerto Galera is among the top diving destinations in the Philippines and in Asia. Excellent diving is found less than 5 minutes from Sabang Beach. The diving generally focuses around the areas either side of Escarceo Point. Marine life is highly diverse. 180+ species of nudibranchs are found in the area and many species of fish can be seen. A variety of wrecks have been sunk over the years in addition to the one wreck of an engine of a WWII Japanese patrol boat. The major diving federations PADI, CMAS, NAUI and Technical Diving International - [TDI] are represented in the area, offering a full range of courses from beginners' open water to advanced and technical diving (rebreather, trimix).
Behind the beaches are the huge and generally unexplored mountain ranges of central Mindoro. A particular local attraction is the 9-hole golf course perched on the hillside above White Beach which commands spectacular views over Puerto Galera's natural harbor and the Verde Island Passage. Mangyan tribes are scattered over the mountainsides - some of the more remote tribes have virtually no contact with the outside world. Of the eight tribes on Mindoro, the Iraya are the largest. They are based in the Puerto Galera area.
The accelerated development of tourism jeopardizes the preservation of its delicate ecological system consumed by "overdevelopment due to a thriving but runaway free-market tourism". This sounds to be now the "biggest problem" of Puerto Galera. Accelerated tourist oriented development poses degradation to the environment, among which, seawater pollution brought about by improper sewage and wastewater discharges. Unless serious information is taken, regular seawater monitoring occurs and remedies are implemented this situation poses a serious threat to the sustainability of the tourist activities in the various beaches of the city.
In the summer of 1998, extensive coral bleaching occurred around Medio Island and a large section of a shallow coral reef system (referred to as the "Coral Gardens") died. Since then the coral has regrown with a larger diversity of coral species replacing the prolific table corals. Corals in Puerto Galera were largely unaffected by the 2010 El Niño event. The local government declared the 4,828 ha of the municipal waters (12,690 ha) as protected waters giving special protection to corals and reef fishes.
In 2006 two super typhoons damaged the shallow reefs around Escarceo Point. A major section of the faster-growing coral species growing up to a depth of 6 metres (20 ft) was destroyed. This represented about 5% of the coral reef in the area. Extensive signs of new coral recruitment were noted in mid-2008. Acropora species (staghorn and table coral) rapidly recolonized the area so that most of the damaged coral has been replaced with new growth.
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- Membership in the France-based Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World (Club des Plus Belles Baies du Monde) is obtained by application. The club is chartered to list only one bay per sea in a given country . The club lists the Bay of Puerto Galera (Baie de Puerto Galera) as being located at 13°3' NR, 120°75' in the E China Sea (southern) ("E Mer de Chine (sud)" in French).
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