Dubbed as "Marine Wonderland," the fantastic land that is Occidental Mindoro is endowed with marine beauty from its virgin forests, beautiful white sand beaches, islands and islets rich in marine life, coral gardens, mysterious caves, and cascading waterfalls.
It has one of the country's wondrous secret hideaways, the Apo Reef, which is regarded as the second largest in the world. This 34-kilometer reef in Sablayan, which is located in Apo Island, is acclaimed as the best in Asia and as the diving mecca of the Philippines. The Apo Reef Marine Park includes the fascinating bird-populated islands of Binangaan and Cajos del Bajo, which are surrounded by waters with over 500 species of marine life and luxuriant coral growth represented by approximately 400 to 500 kaleidoscopic coral species.
Mt. Iglit in San Jose is a game sanctuary for the tamaraw, a wild animal found nowhere else in the world, bearing a resemblance to the Philippine buffalo, commonly known as carabao. Mamburao boasts of an elongated strip of beach with natural and rustic surroundings. In Lumang Bayan, Sablayan, a five-hectare park overlooking the sea, known as Presing Park, is frequented by promenaders.
Occidental Mindoro is a diving paradise with so much to offer divers out to discover several unexplored shoals and atolls. The areas around Ambulong Island, Ilin Island, White Island, and Pandan Grande offer a fertile diving ground surrounded by exquisite coral reefs and colorful marine life, ranging from exotic fish to exquisite seashells.
Every 25th to 27th of April, residents of San Jose celebrate the Saknungan, a 3-day thanksgiving festival highlighted by streetdances and parades. Saknungan is a Mangyan term which means ""bayanihan"" or the spirit of cooperation, brotherhood, and unity at work - the spirit portrayed by the Mindoreños day-to-day, especially during the planting and the harvesting seasons.
The entire island of Mindoro, which is separated from the Southern Luzon mainland, is composed of Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. These two provinces are separated by a mountain range, running through the entire length of the island, which serves as a natural and political boundary.
Occidental Mindoro is situated along the western part of the island, located south of the province of Batangas in Southern Luzon. On the north, it is bounded by Verde Island Passage, on the west and the south by Mindoro Strait, and on the east by Oriental Mindoro.
The topography of Occidental Mindoro is generally rugged, with narrow strips of coastal lowlands. Its terrain is characterized by successive mountain ranges, valleys, and elongated plateaus, with rolling lands along the coastal region.
The province has two pronounced seasons: the dry season from November to April, and the wet season during the rest of the year. It is shielded from the northeast monsoon and tradewinds by mountain ranges but is vulnerable to the southeast monsoon and cyclonic storms. The average annual volume of rainfall is 2,000 mm. Temperature ranges from 30.7 to 16.4 degrees Celsius.
The island of Occidental Mindoro registers a total population of 380,250 based on the 2000 National Statistics Office Survey. It ranked eight in population/size in the Southern Tagalog Region, accounting for 4.5 percent of Mindoro's total number of inhabitants.
Tagalog is spoken by 69.78 percent of the people. Other dialects are Ilokano (10.63 percent), Hiligaynon (6.47 percent), and Kinaray-a (5.84 percent). The working population can read and speak Filipino and English.
Occidental Mindoro is politically governed by a Provincial Governor, as in other provinces and municipal mayors. It is divided into eleven municipalities: Abra de Ilog, Calintaan, Looc, Lubang, Magsaysay, Mamburao, Paluan, Rizal, Sablayan, San Jose, and Sta.Cruz.