MIMAROPA: Discovering the Wonders of Occidental Mindoro

Tamaraw Gene Pool in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro
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Travel Features: Occidental Mindoro is the Next Must Visit Tourist Destination in the Philippines

Occidental Mindoro, PhilippinesDOT MIMAROPA invited a group of media to explore the wonders of Occidental Mindoro and #Teamoutoftown was invited to join the recent familiarization trip. During the trip, we were introduced to the local way of living in Occidental Mindoro. We also got an in-depth look at the beautiful province and what it has to offer in terms of tourism.

DOT Mimaropa Occidental Mindoro Familiarization Trip
DOT Mimaropa Occidental Mindoro Familiarization Trip

The island of Mindoro became popular back in the day with Chinese merchants. They used to call it the land of ‘MaI’. It is said that the locals were trading with Chinese merchants at that time. Occidental Mindoro is half of what makes Mindoro Island. The capital of Occidental Mindoro used to be San Jose but later became Maburao. Although Mamburao is the capital, San Jose is still the largest municipality of the province.

Visiting Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro
Visiting Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro

The province boasts of rice fields where mountain ranges are your backdrops. It has virgin beaches and underwater havens for adventurers. It also has a growing tourism economy and they promote sustainable tourism. It is the second biggest producer of rice in the Southern Tagalog region. It has 11 municipalities.

How to get to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro
San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro

By Air

You can go on a direct flight from Manila to San Jose via Cebu Pacific. They have regular flights going to San Jose. It will take about 50 minutes to travel by air to get there.

By Land and Sea

You can reach Occidental Mindoro by going to Batangas on a bus then a Ro-Ro ride which will go to either Abra de Ilog or Calapan. Going to San Jose via Calapan will take about 5 hours while choosing the Abra de Ilog route will take 3-5 hours.

Where to Go: Top Things to do in Occidental Mindoro

Here are some of the amazing tourist spots in Occidental Mindoro that you should visit soon:

Apo Reef, Sablayan

Experience the most exciting time of your life when you go on a 1-hour boat ride to Apo Island. This island is the largest of the three Apo Reef Islands measuring at 22 hectares. The three islands of Apo Reef; Apo Menor (Binangaan Island), Cayos del Bajo Tinagkapang and Apo Island cradles young black tip and white tip sharks.

The largest island in the Apo Reef and has a lighthouse, white beach, lagoon, mangroves, and karstic rock formations.
The largest island in the Apo Reef and has a lighthouse, white beach, lagoon, mangroves, and karstic rock formations.

There’s too much to see in Apo Reef that whatever kind of adventurer you are, you’re sure to see something that will ignite passion in you. The reef area, by the way, is the largest atoll-reef in Asia. It is the second after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

A yellow crinoid in Apo Reef
A yellow crinoid in Apo Reef
Lunch at Apo Reef National Park
Lunch at Apo Reef National Park

Mr. Celso Alamzen, the park’s superintendent says that hawksbill and green sea turtle abound the area. You can also find other marine species like reef sharks in Tinagkapan and Binanggaan. Beware though of poisonous walo-walo (sea snake) as it is also present in the islands.

Tamaraw Gene Pool in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro

Visit Kalibasib, the 19-year-old tamaraw in the gene pool. He is the only tamaraw in the facility which began its operations in 1980. It’s a breeding facility for tamaraws and they started it having 20 captured tamaraws. The breeding program though only produced one offspring, Kalibasib.  His name is short for Kalikasan Bagong Sibol (newly born). His mother died in August 2011 due to old age. The lifespan of tamaraws is about 25 years.

Tamaraw Gene Pool in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro
Tamaraw Gene Pool in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro

The new name of Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm is Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation, Research, and Education. You can find it in Barangay Manoot near the town of Rizal. Kalibasib is a king of Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo (Bubalus mindorensis). It is the only horned animal which is native to the Philippines and Mindoro Island. It is critically-endangered with only an estimated 500 of it roaming in the wild. These 500 are present in the mountains of Iglit-Baco Natural Park, Aruyan-Malati tamaraw Reservation and Mount Calavite Wildlife Sanctuary and Bongabong and Naujan mountain ranges.

Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation, Research, and Education
Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation, Research, and Education
Hanging Bridge at the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm
Hanging Bridge at the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm
Mindoro dwarf buffalo and its Scientific name is Bubalusmindorensis or Tamaraw in Tagalog
Mindoro dwarf buffalo and its Scientific name is Bubalus mindorensis or Tamaraw in Tagalog
Meet the Tamaraw named Kalibasib
Meet the Tamaraw named Kalibasib
Tamaraw Souvenirs
Tamaraw Souvenirs

The tamaraw is also called Mindoro dwarf buffalo and its Scientific name is Bubalus Mindorensis. It is native to the Philippines and Mindoro Island and right now the animal is in critical condition for being endangered. There are only a few left in the wild so consider this as one your last chances to see it in the flesh.

Devil’s Mountain in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

Devil's Mountain in San Jose
Devil’s Mountain in San Jose

The Devil’s Mountain has a unique shape. People say the peaks look like horns. You can also say that it resembles the stalagmites of caves. It’s about 1,362 hectares of unadulterated nature views. It’s also about 450 meters in height. You can go on a picture taking adventures near it by going to Arapay Falls.

Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

The terracotta bricks used for this chapel give it its vibrant appeal. The ‘healing priest’ Father Fernando Suarez spearheaded the building of the church when he got to the island in 2011. It became his mission to build a proper praying place for everyone.

Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
Inside the new Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad in San Jose
Inside the new Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad in San Jose
The Adoration Chapel of Santisima Trinidad
The Adoration Chapel of Santisima Trinidad
Adoration Chapel in Ilin Island Occidental Mindoro
Adoration Chapel in Ilin Island Occidental Mindoro

You can visit the older Chapel of the Santisima Trinidad if you’re looking to see something older. It’s made of wood and locals say that it was built in 1843. Inside the chapel is an old Holy Trinity painting. According to locals, the painting came to that place because of a miracle.

Inasakan Beach in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

Inasakan Beach
Inasakan Beach

The beach of Inasakan will surely mesmerize you the moment you set eye on it from afar. From the boat, you’ll see the stripe pattern of a blue sky, lush green trees, white sand, and another blue water. It is untouched so it’s really beautiful. It has rock formations on some parts and some parts of the water are shallow so you get to see the floor and there are cottages you can rent if you get tired. Fresh coconut juice is also being sold.

Hundred Year Old Bubug Tree in San Jose

Bubug Tree in San Jose
Bubug Tree in San Jose

The hundred-year-old bubug tree is in the Iling Elementary School. It’s huge and they say the area where it’s located used to be an old settlement. There isn’t much to see except the tree which is good enough if you haven’t experience hugging a big tree and taking an Instagram shot.

Manadi Island in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

The darker yellow hues of Manadi Island give it a warm beach boho vibe. It’s a small island which you can walk in less than an hour. It’s a peaceful place where you can rest your soul and forget about your worries for a while.

Pandan Grande Island

The island offers another quiet retreat for urbanites. People who just wish to relax for a while must go there and see the lush vegetation, tropical birds and its cream sand beach.

Boat to Pandan Grande Reef Marine Protected Area
Boat to Pandan Grande Reef Marine Protected Area

There is a resort on the island offering many beach activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving.

Sablayan Zipline Adventure

Sablayan Zipline Adventure photo by Sablayan Zipline FB
Sablayan Zipline Adventure photo by Sablayan Zipline FB

It’s in Mindoro where you’ll see the longest island-to-island zipline in the world. Your zipline ride will start at Presing Park (Parola Park) and will end at another island where a smaller tower connects to the zip line. The distance of the zip line is 1.4 km (point-to-point) and 1.7 km for the whole length of the cable used.

It will only take you about 4 minutes to reach the other smaller tower so make the most of it by bringing your action camera to capture everything.

Tourism Media at Sablayan Tourism Office
Tourism Media at Sablayan Tourism Office

You don’t have to go to faraway places if you want to unwind. Everything you wish to see and do might already be in Occidental Mindoro from water adventures, nature trip, zip line and more. Visit Occidental Mindoro now!

* Photo Credits to Mr. Nestor Dionido of DOT Office of Public Affairs and Advocacy (OPAA).

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