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BRIEF HISTORY

Much like the province of Oriental Mindoro to which it belongs, Puerto Galera is very rich in history. Literally meaning "Port of Galleons," it became popular among seafarers during the prosperous years of the galleon trade beginning on the 10th century. Owing to its excellent natural harbor - which until now is considered one of the most beautiful and safest in the world - Puerto Galera became a regular stopover for merchant vessels sailing along the important trade routes of the Near East, Indian coast, Indo-Chinese coast, China, Philippines, Sumatra, and Java.

The Muelle Bay area, in particular, was used extensively for dock repairs and as a safe anchorage for all types of sailing vessels. Here, too, a lot of merchant ships docked to trade with the natives.

Location of Puerto Galera in Philippines

Puerto Galera was such important port that some historians even believe the name "Mindoro" was derived from Minolo, one of Puerto Galera's old settlements. These are claims, too, that 16th century references to Mindoro often only meant the harbor of Minolo. Also spelled Minoro, Minolo was a small coastal settlement northwest of the Poblacion of present-day Puerto Galera. then the center of trading, Chinese merchants bartered with natives of Minolo, exhanging glazed porcelains for gold, jade, corals, shells, birds, rattan, and other forest products that were abundant in the island. An excavation of an ancient gravesite near Minolo lends proof to this - the antiques unearthed from the gravesites were traced back to the 10th and 15th centuries, mostly from China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

By the 17th century, under its Spanish colonizers, the island of Mindoro was organized into a coregimiento, with Puerto Galera as the capital. The seat of government remained here throughout the Spanish and American rules, up until 1903.

After more than two centuries, the capital of the province was transferred to Calapan (now a city and the present capital of Oriental Mindoro), which was geograpically blessed with wide agricultural lands. Puerto Galera was then annexed to Calapan as a barrio. Finally, on December 7, 1927, the Philippine Congress passed Act 3415 creating the independent municipality of Puerto Galera.

Epigraphs referring to two historical landmarks have now become major tourist attractions in Puerto Galera - the commemoration Cross for Cañonero Mariveles and the Black Rice display-board, both in Muelle Pier.

When Puerto Galera was made capital of Mindoro, it was originally located in Barrio Lagundian. But the frequency of the Moro attacks forced the Spaniards not only to transfer the seat government to its present site, but also to build watchtowers and station battleship that guarded the waters of Puerto Galera was the Cañonero Mariveles, which sunk due to a violent storm in 1879. To remember the battleships, a wooden corss was built at Muelle Pier with the following inscription: "Ultima tierra que pesarou los tripolantes del cañoneros Marivelles el 18 de Noviembre de 1879." One of the greatest relics of the past century, this Cross was renovated in 1938 by a Spaniard named Luis Gomez y Sotto.

Aside form introducing tools to increase farm productivity, the Spaniards also built a rice granary in Puerto Galera to stash grains ready for shipment. This storage is believed to have caught fire in the late of 18th century, and a huge volume of palay (rice grains) were burned and tossed into the sea. It would decompose and eventually vanish. But for some magical reason, the burned rice grains were preserved by seawaters. to this day, handful of whole charcoal-black rice grains continue to appear on the banks of Muelle Bay, mysteriously carried by the waves with the changing of tides. A huge glasscase collecting them now stands along the tricyle terminal on Muelle Pier. Tricycles are pretty much like Philippine verions of car hire ireland. Often called motor-taxis, tricycles are motorcycles that have attached sidecars or passenger cabins. These vehicles can be seen in different forms and length and are often used in areas where buses and jeepneys rarely operate.

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