Guimaras [ɡimaˈɾas], officially the Province of Guimaras (Hiligaynon: Kapuoran sang Guimaras; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Guimaras), is an island province in the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital is Jordan while its largest local government unit is the municipality of Buenavista. The province is situated 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 whole island is part of the Metro IloiloGuimaras, one of the twelve metropolitan areas of the Philippines.

Province of Guimaras
(from top: left to right) Beach in Taklong Island, Navalas Church, Panay Gulf view from Nueva Valencia, Balaan Bukid way of the Cross, Manggahan Festival
Mango Capital of the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 10°34′N 122°35′E
RegionWestern Visayas
FoundedMay 22, 1992
Largest MunicipalityBuenavista
  TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
  GovernorJoaquin Carlos Rahman A. Nava (NUP)
  Vice GovernorJohn Edward G. Gando (PDP-Laban)
  RepresentativeMaria Lucille L. Nava (LP)
  LegislatureGuimaras Provincial Board
  Total604.57 km2 (233.43 sq mi)
  Rank77th out of 81
Highest elevation
(Mount Bontoc)
272 m (892 ft)
 (2020 census)[2]
  Rank74th out of 81
  Density310/km2 (800/sq mi)
   Rank28th out of 81
  Independent cities0
  Component cities0
  DistrictsLegislative district of Guimaras
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63(0)33
ISO 3166 codePH-GUI
Spoken languages
Income classification4th class

The province consists primarily of Guimaras Island, and also includes Inampulugan, Guiwanon (or Guiuanon), Panobolon, Natunga, Nadulao, and many surrounding islets.[3] Geologists have concluded that the island once formed one landmass with Panay.

Guimaras, formerly known as Himal-us, was a sub-province of Iloilo until it was made an independent province on May 22, 1992.


Spanish era

About 1581, Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñalosa, Spanish governor and Captain-General of the Philippine Islands, established a settlement in Guimaras for the purpose of Christianizing the island's natives. He and his subordinates organized the pueblicitos or villages of Nayup under the patronage of Saint Peter the Apostle, and Igang with Saint Anne as patroness.

Evangelization of Guimaras occurred around the same time the friars were making inroads in Panay. The Augustinians established the visitas (chapelries) of Nayup and Igang as subordinate to Oton, Iloilo. Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, the 7th Spanish Governor-General, noted in a June 20, 1591, report to King Philip II 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, took 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 (today Buenavista).

American era

Under American rule, the Guimarasnons were given the opportunity to elect their municipal president in 1908.[4]

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 Santo 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.[5]

In 1942, Japanese Imperial forces landed on Guimaras Island as the Empire of Japan began its occupation of the country during the Second World War.

In 1945, the combined United States and Philippine Commonwealth forces landed on Guimaras Island, attacking the Japanese and defeating them in the Battle of Guimaras, which led to the liberation of the island.[6]

Provincial status

Guimaras gained its status as a sub-province of Iloilo through Republic Act 4667,[7] which was enacted by Congress on June 18, 1966. It was proclaimed as a regular and full-fledged province on May 22, 1992, after a plebiscite was conducted to ratify the approval of its conversion pursuant to Section 462 of R.A. 7160.[8]

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

The province of Guimaras was originally composed of three municipalities: Buenavista, Jordan, and Nueva Valencia. In 1995, through Republic Act No. 7896 and Republic Act No. 7897,[9][10] the municipalities of Sibunag and San Lorenzo were created. The two new municipalities officially acquired their municipal status after the May 8, 1995 plebiscite held simultaneously with the local election.

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

Guimaras oil spill

In August 2006, the Guimaras oil spill occurred. The 998-ton MT Solar 1, chartered by Petron (the Philippines' largest oil refiner), carrying 2.4 million litres of bunker fuel, sank 17 kilometres (11 mi) off the island's southern coast, contaminating 24 square kilometres (9.3 sq mi). The Philippine Coast Guard called this the worst oil spill in the country's history. According to officials, 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of mangroves were affected, including parts of the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve.[11]


Guimaras comprises primarily of Guimaras Island, and the minor islets of Inampulugan, Guiwanon (or Guiuanon), Panobolon, Natunga, Nadulao and many more. The province covers a total area of 604.57 square kilometres (233.43 sq mi)[12] occupying the southeastern section of the Western Visayas region.

Sibunag River is the longest river in Guimaras with a total length of 28.8 km (17.9 mi) in municipality of Sibunag, followed by Cabano River 23.7 km (14.7 mi) long in San Lorenzo, Mantangingi River 17.4 km in Buenavista.

Mount Bontoc is the highest point in the province of Guimaras with an elevation of 892 ft (272 m) above sea level, located in municipality of Sibunag. Mount Dinulman is the second highest mountain with an elevation of 879 ft (268 m) also located in Sibunag.

The province has 5 municipalities. There is only one legislative district of Guimaras which encompasses all five towns.


Population census of Guimaras
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 21,467    
1918 27,170+1.58%
1939 38,547+1.68%
1948 40,697+0.60%
1960 57,560+2.93%
1970 73,014+2.40%
1975 84,515+2.98%
1980 92,382+1.80%
1990 117,990+2.48%
1995 126,470+1.31%
2000 141,450+2.43%
2007 151,238+0.93%
2010 162,943+2.75%
2015 174,613+1.33%
2020 187,842+1.45%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[13][14][14]

The population of Guimaras in the 2020 census was 187,842 people,[2] with a density of 310 inhabitants per square kilometre or 800 inhabitants per square mile.

The people of the province, called Guimarasnon, speak Hiligaynon as the primary language, as it was once a sub-province of Iloilo. Filipino and English are widely spoken and understood.


The two predominant religions in the municipality are the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church). The St. Paul's Theological Seminary (SPTS) in Jordan is the regional seminary of the Philippine Independent Church serving its Visayas and Mindanao dioceses.


Mangoes galore in the Guimaras Manggahan Festival

The province is basically agricultural with mangoes, palay, coconuts, 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 greenery

Guimaras is well known for its agricultural crops, particularly the mangoes, where some +50,000 of these trees are planted. The island province is famous for producing one of the sweetest mangoes in the world, thus earning the nickname "Mango Capital of the Philippines" from local and foreign tourists. Guimaras mangoes are reportedly served at the White House and Buckingham Palace.[22][23][24] Guimaras' largest event of the year is the Manggahan Festival (the Mango Festival).[25] The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jam and other special delicacies.


From Guimaras, a view of Iloilo City across the Iloilo Strait.

Pump boats cross regularly from Ortiz in Iloilo City to Jordan, Guimaras, taking abiout twenty to twenty-five minutes per journey. Other ferries leave from the Parola wharf in Iloilo to Buenavista, Guimaras. The Parola Wharf is used exclusively during rough weather conditions especially by ferries from Jordan-Ortiz. A roll-on/roll-off ferry travels around five times a day but is mostly used to transport cargo such as sacks of charcoals and root crops across the Iloilo Strait.

There is also a pump boat service connecting the town of San Lorenzo to Pulupandan in Negros Occidental.


The Governor of Guimaras is Joaquin Carlos Rahman A. Nava, a member of the National Unity Party. The province's Vice Governor is John Edward G. Gando, a member of PDP–Laban. Guimaras is represented in the Philippine House of Representatives by Lucille Nava, also a member of PDP–Laban.


Hubon Guimarasnon of Manggahan Festival.

Guimaras attracts tourists particularly in May, when the Manggahan Festival takes place. In the festival, locals wear mango-inspired costumes and design mango-themed floats in a parade that makes its way around the island. Pastries and confectionery with mango ingredients, as well unprepared mangoes, are also sold in relatively large quantities. Tourism also includes visits to agricultural areas macross the island, such as the Oro Verde Mango Plantation.

The island is also a growing destination for ecotourism. Talkong Island, off Guimaras' south coast, is a area of natural beauty recognized by the Philippine government. Tourists frequently visit areas such as the Guisi, Alubihod, Tatlong Pulo, and Natago beaches. Ave Maria Island is another ecological destination near Jordan. Some tourists also choose to visit the San Lorenzo Wind Farm, a series of turbines located near the island's eastern coast.

Guimaras is also a site for religious tourism. The Balaan Bukid Shrine hosts twelve markers of the Way of the Cross as individuals make an ascent towards a hilltop where the main shrine rests. Navalas Church, built in 1880, bears one of the few remaining sites of Roman Catholic Spanish heritage on the island. A Trappist monastery is located near the center of the island, providing a retreat center for visitors in addition to selling various mango-based foodstuffs.

See also


  1. "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  2. Census of Population (2020). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  3. Official map of province Archived May 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Province of Guimaras
  4. "Guimaras History". Islands Philippines.
  5. Clayton, James, D. (1970). "Volume 1, 1880–1941", The Years of MacArthur. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 87–89. ISBN 0-395-10948-5.
  6. "US Army in WW II". Robert Ross Smith.
  7. "Republic Act No. 4667 - An Act Creating the Subprovince of Guimaras in the Province of Iloilo". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  8. "An Act Providing for a Local Government Code of 1991". The LawPhil Project.
  9. "Republic Act No. 7896; An Act Creating the Municipality of Sibunag in the Province of Guimaras". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  10. "Republic Act No. 7897 - An Act Creating the Municipality of San Lorenzo in the Province of Guimaras". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  11. Ombion, Karl G.; Lachica, Ryan B. (2006). "Guimaras Oil Spill Ship Found Unfit for Sailing". Bulatlat. Archived from the original on January 9, 2007. Retrieved April 15, 2016. As of press time, the ship's sinking has already caused an oil spill contaminating 200 kilometers of the coastline of Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo towns. This has reportedly affected more than 20 sq. km of coral reefs, 1,100 has. of the Taclong national marine reserve in Nueva Valencia, at least 4,000 fishermen and 17,000 households in several coastal villages.
  12. "Province: Guimaras". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  13. Census of Population (2015). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  14. Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  15. "Poverty incidence (PI):". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  16.; publication date: 29 November 2005; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  17.; publication date: 8 February 2011; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  18.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  19.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  20.; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  21.; publication date: 4 June 2020; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  22. Alexander R. Bautista. "The hidden jewel that is Guimaras". Manila Standard Today. Archived from the original on July 2, 2013.
  23. Stefanie (October 4, 2010). "Journey of a lifetime". blogspot.
  24. "Philippine Mangoes Naihain na sa White House at Buckingham Palace". GMA News. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  25. "Manggahan Festival". Archived from the original on July 2, 2012.
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