THE PROVINCE AT A
Guimaras, considered one of the exotic islands in the
Philippines; believed to have been once part of the Panay group
of islands. Original name was Himal-us. Once a sub-province of
Iloilo, Guimaras was proclaimed as a regular and full-pledged
province on May 22, 1992. It has 5 towns, with Jordan town as
the capital. Located southwest of Panay Island and northwest of
Negros Island, it has a land area of 604.65 sq. km. It has dry
and wet season and population is estimated at 117,990.
An account by Demy Sonza, noted Ilonggo historian
says that archaeologist and geologists believe that the island
of Guimaras was once part of Panay. Insofar as available
historical documents can attest, Guimaras was known as Himal-us
to the Pre-Spanish Ilonggos.
The Spaniards headed by Gonzalo Ronquillo de Penalosa who
established the Spanish settlement in Arevalo was struck by the
beautiful sceneries on the island. They noticed that its verdant
mountains abound with forest timbers, limestone for builfing
purposes and excellent hunting and fishing grounds. The
christianization of the people of Guimaras started almost
simultaneously with that of Iloilo. For this purpose, the
Spaniards organized the pueblocitos or villages of Nayup and
Igang. For a long time, these small villages formed a "visits"
of Oton, Iloilo. Gov. Gen. Dasmari๑as reported to the King of
Spain on June 20, 1551 that one of the two friars of Oton was
assigned to Guimaras who made his visits from time to time.
In 1742, the island fekk under the jurisdiction of Dumangas
until 1751 when the Agustinian Order was replaced by the
Jesuits. Then the Dominicans took over Guimaras. By 1755, it was
organized into a regular parish. Finally, when the population
had increased considerably, the island was given its municipal
status having a seat of government at Tilad, now Buenavista. The
old townsite was in the place known today as Old Poblacion.
The American regime brought about faster progress to the island.
In 1908 Guimarasnons were given the right to elect their
municipal president. One great American military genius left an
indelible mark on the island. Douglas MacArthur, fresh from West
Point as a second lieutenant at the age of 23, come to Iloilo as
the head of the company of the corps of engineers. He
constructed roads and the Sto. Rosario wharf that are still in
Hiligaynon is widely spoken among the natives. Residents of some
barangays in Jordan and Nueva Valencia speak Kinaray-a, a
Hiligaynon variant. English and Tagalog are spoken and
understood by the majority of the people of the island.
The economy of Guimaras is largely agricultural.
Majority of the population is engaged in crop and livestock
productions. The principal agricultural crops produced are
classified into food crops, commercial crops, and fruit trees.
The principal food crops raised are corn, rice, and vegetable.
Commercial crops grown in the area include coconuts, mangoes,
cashew, citrus, jackfruits and bananas.
Guimaras fisherman have several fishing grounds. The major ones
are Guimaras Strait, Iloilo Strait, Panay Gulf and Visayan Sea.
Fishing activities are concentrated in waters surrounding the
island especially in San Antonio, Igdarapdap, Tando, Capay,
Igang and round the offshore islet of Guiwanon, Luisan and
Panobolon in Nueva Valencia; Lawi, Morobuan and Alegria in
Jordan and Sto. Rosario, Avila, East Valencia in Buenavista.
The major commercial species that abound in the area are
shrimps, mackerel, moonfish, cavalas, round scad, anchovies,
slipmounths, groupers and sardines. The minor catch includes
lobster, alamang, ornamental shells and corals.
HOW TO GET THERE
Guimaras mainland is close to Iloilo harbor and
accessible in 15 minutes by motorboat or ferry boat that
services the island from six in the morning to six in the
evening daily. Motorboats to the different islets are available
on special arrangement. Travel time is 15 min. to 4 hours
depending on how far one wishes to wander around.