about Guimaras

Guimaras [?ima??as] is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros. To the northwest is the province of Iloilo and to the southeast is Negros Occidental.

The province includes the islands of Guimaras and Inampulugan and many smaller islands.

Guimaras was a sub-province of Iloilo until it was made an independent province on May 22, 1992.

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History

About 1581, Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñaloza, Spanish governor and captain-general of the Philippine Islands, established a settlement in Guimaras for the purpose of the Christianization of the natives of the island. He and his subordinates organized the pueblicitos or villages of Nayup, with San Pedro Apostol as the patron saint, and Igang, with Sta. Ana as the patroness.

Evangelization of Guimaras occurred around the same time the friars were making inroads in Panay. The Augustinians established the visitas of Nayup and Igang dependent on Oton, Iloilo. Gov. Gen. Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas 20 June 1591 report to the king noted that the friars of Oton made regular visits to the island.

In 1742, the island came under the jurisdiction of Dumangas – now known as Iloilo, until 1751 when the Augustinian Order was replaced by the Jesuits, after which the Dominican order took over Guimaras. The Jesuits, who had established a school in Iloilo and had missions in Molo and Arevalo, charge of the island. By 1755, it was organized into a regular parish. When the population increased considerably, the island was given its municipal status with a seat of government at Tilad (now known as Buenavista). In 1908, during the American period, the Guimarasnons were given the opportunity to elect their municipal president.

Douglas MacArthur, a fresh graduate from West Point as a Second Lieutenant at the age of 23, came to Iloilo as the head of the company of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They constructed roads and the Sto. Rosario Wharf, presently named MacArthur’s Wharf, which are still in use today. In November 1903, while working on Guimaras, he was ambushed by a pair of Filipino brigands or guerrillas; he shot and killed both with his pistol.[2]

In 1942, Japanese Imperial forces landed on Guimaras Island.

In 1945, the combined United States & Philippine Commonwealth forces landed on Guimaras Island, attacked the Japanese Imperial forces, defeating them in the Battle of Guimaras, which led to the liberation of the island.

Guimaras first gained its status as a sub-province of Iloilo by virtue of R.A. 4667, which was enacted by Congress on 18 June 1966. It was proclaimed as a regular and full-fledged province on 22 May 1992 after a plebiscite was conducted to ratify the approval of its conversion pursuant to Section 462 of R.A. 7160.

Shortly after Guimaras acquired its provincial status, President Fidel V. Ramos appointed Emily Relucio-Lopez as its first Governor.

The province of Guimaras was originally composed up of 3 municipalities. In 1995, by virtue of Republic Act No. 7896 and Republic Act No. 7897, the municipalities of Sibunag and San Lorenzo were created in the province of Guimaras. The two new municipalities officially acquired their municipal status after the May 8, 1995 plebiscite held simultaneously with the local election.

Mayor Ernesto L. Gedalanga was the first appointed mayor of Sibunag and Mayor Arsenio Zambarrano was also appointed mayor of San Lorenzo. The temporary seat of government of the Municipality of Sibunag is at Brgy. Sabang while the temporary seat of Government of the Municipality of San Lorenzo is at Brgy. Cabano.

The island province suffered an ecological disaster in Aug. 2006, after 998 ton gross weight M/T Solar 1, chartered by Petron, the Philippines’ largest oil refiner, carrying 2.4 million litres of oil sank 17 kilometrres off the coast, contaminating 24 km2.[2]Cleanup was estimated to take at least two years. The Philippine Coast Guard called this the worst oil spill in the country’s history. According to officials, 1,000 hectares of mangrove forests were affected, including parts of the Taclong Island Sanctuary, a feeding and breeding ground for fish and other species.

People and Culture 

The people of Guimaras are considered as Guimarasnon and their languages are Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a as it was once a sub-province of Iloilo. Hiligaynon is the major language spoken, although the people can understand and speak Tagalog and English.

Economy

The province is basically agricultural with palay, coconut, mango, vegetables, livestock, poultry and fishing as major products. Its major industries are tourism, fruit processing, coconut processing, fish farming, handicrafts making, mining, quarrying and lime production.

Guimaras is well-known for its agricultural crops, particularly mangoes, where some 50,000 of these trees are planted. The Guimaras Island is famous for producing the sweetest mangoes in the world. Guimaras mangos are reportedly served at the White House and Buckingham Palace. Guimaras’ largest event of the year is The Manggahan Festival (the Mango Festival). The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jam and other delicacies.

Municipalities of Guimaras

  • Jordan
  • Buenavista
  • Nueva Valencia
  • San Lorenzo
  • Sibunag

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