'Uniting' people through Mimaropa festivities

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

December 31, 2018, 11:43 am

Captured moments before a grand preformance.

Photo by Teodoro Pelaez

MANILA-- The only knot in having too many festivals in the country, which is never a thousand short, is the struggle of choosing where and what to attend.

Although the extravagant and world-prominent ones may top your list, there are three quarters more that can't be missed-- those equally spectacular yet little-known festivities that celebrate heritage, culture, and the Filipino way of life altogether.

Some of these undiscovered gems are held in various parts of MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan). And lucky for you, the MIMAROPA Festivals are held annually to bring these best festivities in one place. In November 2019, the 5th MIMAROPA Festival will take place in Marinduque.

Last month, it drew a crowd that filled Occidental Mindoro's provincial capitol in Mamburao full packed.

The 2018 grand champion was Occidental Mindoro followed by the Palawan contingent, and Puerto Princesa. Meanwhile, Calapan City came in third place with Oriental Mindoro in fourth and Romblon in fifth.

Costumed in distinct traditional clothing, the young street dancers put a spotlight on the identity of each provinces-- marble for Romblon, tamaraws for Mindoro, Moriones festival for Marinduque, and the reefs and underground river for Palawan.

Mixed with anticipation for 2019, Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato shares the annual affair brings to spotlight both the colorful Filipino culture and unity among the people of Region 4B.

We have never felt so united before and as I've said, we've never experienced that kind of pride for MIMAROPA and I think that's the best outcome or the thing that happend from the festival," mused the congresswoman.

"Before, 4B is a poor region but you know, you've seen that there's economic development," she added, noting its potentials, particularly in tourism.

The region is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, namely the Tubbataha Reefs and the otherworldly Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro is also on UNESCO's tentative list of heritage sites.

These alone serve as a drive for the local government to fix the island group's connectivity.

In the two provinces, Ramirez-Sato said a plan to dock yachts in their major ports, as well as the construction of a world-class hotel in Occidental Mindoro, are under discussion.

Moreover, medium-sized cruise ships are also set to ply through the region. Though still being finalized, the representative said "this will connect the provinces of MIMAROPA."

'Occ. Mindoro introduced'

Not only the festival brought unity among the provinces of MIMAROPA, it also highlighted Occidental Mindoro's undiscovered jewels--one of the benefits the event brings to its host province.

At a trade fair, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro proved it was more than a gateway to Coron as it showcased its abundant beach sites: the Inasakan Beach, the Manadi Island, locally known as White Island, and its Aroma beach a few meters from the airport.

Sablayan's booth featured the famous Apo Reef Natural Park and Mindoro's emerging tuna industry propelled by the sudden change in the tuna's migratory route.

The fair also boasted the "cleanest inland body of water" in Paluan, and the Cabra Island Lighthouse in Lubang, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was sighted some time in 1960s.

Aside from heritage and ecotourism, Occidental Mindoro is keen to develop its agritourism.

"We would also like to have the agritourism because as we all know Occidental Mindoro has become the number two or three in rice production and we are now the number one salt producer in the country," Ramirez-Sato said.

"We would like the people to see what we have, and specially we have the tamaraws, the critically endangered species, which can only be found in the island of Mindoro." As of 2018, there were only 523 tamaraws recorded in the Philippines. (PNA)