Misamis takes its name from an old settlement at the mouth of the Panguil Bay once populated by the Subanun. Misamis is believed derived from the term kuyamis, a term for a sweet variety of coconut. However, as a result of continued raids by Moros from Lanao, the Subanuns retreated into the interior and Visayan and Bukidnon settlers occupied the coast. Misamis was once part of the province of Cebu until it was made into a separate corregimiento in the late 18th century. By 1818, Misamis was organized as a province covering the region from Dapitan in the west, up to Gingoog in the east and as far as Cotabato and Lanao del Sur in the south. Effective control, however, was limited to the coast.
For most of the 17th and 18th centuries, Misamis remained vulnerable to the Moro slave raiders. Forts were constructed, the principal ones being in Misamis (Fort Santiago), Iligan and Cagayan. The population of Misamis gradually increased during the 19th century due largely to the influx of settlers from Cebu and Bohol.
In 1917, following the organization of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, the province of Misamis lost the territory of Iligan to the province of Lanao. In 1929, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 3537 creating the provinces of Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental.
People, Culture and the Arts
Kite flying is a passion among the people of Misamis Occidental. In Oroquieta, they celebrate the Tabanog Festival and showcase different shapes and sizes of the flyers when the winds of summer allow the best conditions to revel in this simple pleasure. The festival itself is not as grand or elaborate as other festivals elsewhere but it more than makes up for the lack of material embellishments by being fun, spirited and convivial. Simple pleasures reveal the simple nature of life in the province, a land of small fishermen and farmers.
Although Misamis Occidental was originally populated by sea-faring Subanons, most of the people of the coasts are now mostly settled by Visayans whose roots lie across the Mindanao Sea, in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol. As a consequence of the migration from these provinces, Cebuano is spoken and undertood throughout the province, with some local variation in vocabulary and intonation. Culturally and economically, the province is more closely linked to the Central Visayas than to other provinces in its immediate vicinity.
Misamis Occidental was a bastion of Spanish and Christian influence in northern Mindanao and the province certainly does not lacking in relics and monuments that attest to this fact. There are centuries-old churches and historical landmarks like the Old Spanish Catholic Church located at Barangay Taraka, Jimenez and the Spanish Fort Santiago, known as kota, in Ozamis City. Also in Ozamis City is a pipe organ from Germany housed at the Roman Catholic church. It is said to be biggest of its kind in Mindanao and second largest in the Philippines. The giant pipe organ is equipped with 1,936 pipes, a console with three keyboards.
Trade and Investments
Misamis Occidental has nature on its side in its quest for growth and development. Considered as an aquamarine center of the country, the province has a long coastline and two sheltered bays that form one of the country’s three main shrimp spawning grounds. Other aquamarine resources include crabs, shellfish and prawns. The province also has the thickest forest cover in the country and shelters endangered species of fauna, among of which is the Philippine eagle. Misamis Occidental may as well be touted as the eco-tourism center given its numerous areas of unspoiled sites of natural splendor. These resources, together with the province’s skilled, English speaking workforce, make Misamis Occidental an obvious choice for a variety of enterprises.
Misamis Occidental can easily be reached by land, sea and air. There are regular flights, with national and international connections, between Ozamis City and Cebu City, while large passenger ferries travel regularly between Ozamis City and both Manila and Cebu. All weather roads connect Misamis Occidental's cities and municipalities to each other and to other provinces in Mindanao. Communications are handled by a network of cellular sites and land lines that offering digital direct dialing services. National banks hold office in the cities of the province. Water supply is reliable and power rates are the lowest in the region. The general population is well educated and offers a skilled, honest and hardworking workforce.
The emerging markets for aquamarine and agricultural products and the increasing interests in eco-tourism open vast economic opportunities for Misamis Occidental. The province’s central location, efficient ports, very competitive power rates and skilled English speaking labor force can easily translate nature’s abundance into profitable enterprises. At present, there are 500 hectares of existing prawn farms and another 3,300 hectares are being developed. Similarly, tropical fruits like mango, rambutan, pomelo, durian and mangosteen are grown and processed by small cottage industries. The province also holds promise as an eco-tourism destination. Forests, white beaches, islands, a lake, hot and cold springs, waterfalls, rivers, wetlands all teeming with rare birds and animals can anchor and sustain establishments serving the needs of tourists. Finally, the province also plans to host two special economic zones and among the early industries interested in tapping into the province’s potentials is Compak, a British building materials manufacturer, engaged in utilizing agricultural by-products to produce panel boards.
Development Initiative Highlights: