Bongabong: An Oriental Mindoro Treasure

Bongabong: An Oriental Mindoro Treasure by Leo Gamel Orencia

Bongabong can be found on the island of Mindoro, 104 kilometers away from the province capital, Calapan City. Just about two hours away from the Port of Batangas City and you will be on the Island of Mindoro. Considered to be the biggest island of the Philippines and well-known for its long stretches of white sand beaches in Puerto Galera.

Mindoro also boasts the mystical Mount Halcon, as well as lots of wonderful towns and amazing places to explore. Especially in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.

The town has been in existence since the last part of the 17th century. But historians cannot officially confirm how Bongabong got its name. It was most likely from the Mangyan (the islands indigenous people) word “BINAGAO”, meaning a big and turbulent river.

Situated at the southern part of Oriental Mindoro, Bongabong is known for its vast and lush farmlands, surrounded by mountain ranges. With a total land area of 49,820 hectares along with 4 big rivers, which supply water to the farmlands; Lisap, Bongabong, Orcunoma and Sukol River.

Bongabong has a population of more than 80,000. At least 15,000 of these are Mangyans and most of the residents depend on farming and fishing. The town is famous for its organic produce because the biggest, and the only certified organic rice farm in the country, can be found in Bongabong; the Gabutero Organic Farm.

Gabutero Organic Farm Resort Mindoro
Gabutero Organic Farm Resort

The towns biggest festival is the Sulyog Festival, held every March. The festival name comes from Suli (banana) & Niyog (coconut).  Suli is Mangyan and Niyog is Tagalog. The name creates a respectful blend of the area’s history and culture.  The harvest thanksgiving is also dedicated to St Joseph.

The Sulyog Festival is certainly one of the highlights of the year. A week long festival of dance and cultural shows, enacting harvesting the crops, extracting coconut meat from the shell to be dried for copra, and sorting the banana’s. Prepared by the Local Government Unit and other partners.

Mayor Elegio “Elgin” Malaluan
Mayor Elegio “Elgin” Malaluan

Mayor Elegio “Elgin” Malaluan believes that Bongabong is one of the best tourist destinations in the country.

He said that they ‘almost have it all’; the green mountains, organic products, beautiful coastlines and beaches, rivers and the Sulyog Festival, which both foreign and local tourist love to experience.

Aside from enhancing the tourism industry of Bongabong, Mayor Elgin Malaluan is also focused on providing quality healthcare and education to his constituents. His program HEARTS PO assures everyone for an inclusive growth.

HEARTS PO stands for H – Humility, Housing, Health, E – Education, A – Agriculture, R –Roads and Infrastructure, T – Tourism and Trade Industry, S – Social Services and PO – Peace and Order.

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Written by Trudy Allen

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