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 Insofar as available historical documents can attest, Guimaras was known as Himal-us to the Pre-Spanish Ilonggos.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 use today.


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.

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.

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  Information provided by Department of Tourism. Government of Philippines.


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