Rodolfo Valencia saved Mindoro

The article below is based on the magazine published by BizNewsAsia


Rodolfo G. Valencia is  outstanding  for  his advocacy and has an enviable track record first as governor for nine years of Mindoro and later as its congressman for 14 years.

As governor, he saved Mindoro from illegal loggers, enhanced its forest cover, and got rid of monopolies that have hampered the island’s growth. His work as a legislator gave rise to Pag-IBIG, rationalized housing regulations, made housing affordable, modernized Mindoro and saved it for better master-planning and the future. No Filipino has invested more in visioning for Mindoro and safeguarding its natural resources for the future than Valencia.

  In 1987, Rod or RGV abruptly left a lucrative and booming property business to attend to the needs of his people and home province, Orietal Mindoro, to the chagrin of his family, friends and business partners His 23 years in government service meant Valencia could not devote as much time to his main business, real estate, at a time of the most frenetic growth in the industry this country has ever since.  Thus, he missed many opportunities to build up a tremendous fortune and become quite possibly, a veritable billionaire.

For RGV, his choices were clear from the start -  destiny vs. posterity.

His Oriental Mindoro today is well preserved for generations of Filipinos to come.  “I do not have any regrets,” he says, with a disarming smile. History and his people will judge what he has done for them and for posterity. Today, the province’s forest cover is large and lush - 213,577 hectares, about half of its 436,472-ha. land area. Few provinces can claim forests being 50% of their land area. The national average is a paltry 23.4%.

As congressman, Valencia convinced the predident to revoke timber licenses to greedy loggers. The province’s forest were thus preserved. As governor, RGV also stopped illegal mining, thus preserving Oriental Mindoro’s resources. Even today 8,125-ha. Lake Naujan, the fifth largest lake in the country, is not allowed for exploitation, thus avoiding what has befallen the much larger Laguna Lake. He also cracked down on illegal fishing. Not surprisingly, the passage from Batangas to Mindoro is rich in biodiversity.

The effect of such multiple bans is render Mindoro pristine and rural for the past two decades.  The province remains 30% urban. Its population of 800,000 grows by only 1.43% (national average is 1.8%) per year. There are only 185 people per square km. Crime is low - 577 in the whole of 2012, according to NEDA.

Its underwhelming unsophistication is precisely Mindoro’s charm.

The whole island (including Mindoro Occidental province) covers 1.057 million hectares (42% Oriental, 58% Occidental). That is nearly 15 times the size of Singapore island, twice that of Cebu and get this - bigger than Metro Manila (63,860 hectares) plus Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal provinces combined (738,836 hectares). Mindoro’s potential, when fully tapped, is easily 40% of Philippine economic output of GDP. Metro Manila  accounts for 37% of GDP while the rest of Luzon contributes another 37%.