History Of Puerto Galera
The name Puerto Galera comes from the Spanish. As a sheltered bay they used the place to hide their war and commercial ships during the yearly recurrent typhoon season. It is a popular believe that in English the name is translated to Port of Galleons. Some historians figured out that the name derives from the Port of Galley or Puerto de Galera. A galley is a smaller ship for local trade and military exploration while galleons were big intercontinental ships. It was on May 12 in the year 1570 that Martin de Goite and Juan de Salcedo created a settlement on what is now Puerto Galera.
It was first believed by the Spanish conquistadors that there was a lot of gold on Mindoro. Was it a lucky find near today's Calapan? Nobody knows for sure. In their enthusiasms they named the island Mino de Oro (goldmine) what was later changed to Mindoro.
As the city grew it became the capital of Mindoro in the 17th century. This stayed so until 1903 when (by then, under American rule) they changed the capital to Calapan. The city of Calapan became more influential, mainly due to its extensive fruitful farmlands in the area. It was until the end of 1927 that Congress voted Puerto Galera into an independent municipality.
During WWII and the Japanese occupation, Puerto Galera grew again in importance. The presence of its sheltered bay for Japanese war ships was the main reason. After the liberation by general MacArthur and the independence of the Philippines in 1947, Calapan became once again the regional capital, as it is still today.
Spain was the first foreign country to settle on Puerto Galera. Some shipwrecks found in the vicinity of Puerto Galera and Sabang prove that Chinese traders visited the area frequently. Probably as early as the 10th century. They never settled. So did the nation of Indonesia who also brought cultural and language influences to the Philippines. The word for 'thank you' or 'salamat' is brought by Indonesian traders. So comes that Filipino is a mix of local dialects, English, Spanish and Arabic.
Puerto Galera is elected by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve since 1977. There are an estimated 38'000 inhabitants. The local government dubbed it as “The Heart of Asia” for its beautiful beaches, surroundings and dive sites.