Rodolfo Valencia: the Protector of Mindoro
The article below is based on the magazine published by BizNewsAsia.
No Filipino has invested more in visioning for the Island of Mindoro and safeguarding its natural resources for the future than Rodolfo G. Valencia.
In1986, Rod or RGV abruptly left a lucrative and booming property business to save the critical watersheds of Mindoro. The RGV Group then was among the country’s top 1000 corporations, ranked 617 in the league of highest taxpayers in terms of taxes paid to the national government. His marketing arm, the RGV Marketing Management Corporation (RGVMMC) has the biggest marketing network of over 2,000 realtors and brokers, with overseas operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei Darrussalam and Los Angeles, California USA. RGV is a multi-awardee, past president of practically all real estate associations and umbrella organizations in the Philippines.
Through the initiatives of RGV, fresh from his overwhelming victory in the 1987 Elections as First District of Oriental Mindoro despite being a neophyte in his province’s political landscape, then President Corazon C. Aquino ordered the cancellation of Timber License Agreement (TLA) No. 376. More than 50,000 hectares of Mindoro’s watershed were protected for future generations.
Oriental Mindoro today enjoys strong free-flowing water, abundant mineral water in key areas, and the existence of 35 active waterfalls possessing high potential for hydro power development. It is duly recognized as one of the country’s “Three Most Green Provinces”.
A distinguished rare breed politician and no non-sense dedicated leader, RGV served and protected the interest of the Province and his constituents for almost thirty (30) continuous productive years - - - 14 years as Congressman from 1987 to 1992 (8th Congress) and from 2004 to 2013 (13th to 15th Congress); 9 years as Governor for three consecutive terms from 1992 to 2001; and 7 years as Private Citizen pursuing his vision of development for the Island of Mindoro.
His Oriental Mindoro today is well preserved for generations of Mindorenos 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.
Today, the province’s forest cover is large and lush – 213,577 hectares, about half of its 436,472 hectares land area. Few provinces can claim forests being 50% of their land area. The national average is a paltry 23.4%.
As Governor, RGV dismantled the cargo and passenger shipping monopoly between Batangas and Calapan City. Today, at least five shipping lines provide 32 daily round trips in connecting to Calapan City, the Gateway to the Visayas and Southern Provinces via the Strong Republic Nautical Highway. A “Ro-Ro” boat ride between Batangas City and Puerto Galera is a bargain at PhP 300 per person and P 1,800 per vehicle. Compare that to a 45-minute Manila-Caticlan (Boracay) flight costing P8,000.00. Not surprisingly, the passage from Batangas to Mindoro is rich in biodiversity.
RGV also stopped illegal mining, thus preserving Oriental Mindoro’s resources. Even today, the 13,000-has. Lake Naujan, the fifth largest and cleanest 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.
The effect of such multiple bans preserved 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 persons per square kilometer.
For instance, the province’s famed Puerto Galera beach has a 20-km. shoreline, seven times that of Boracay. Puerto Galera probably got its name from shed. During the Spanish times, galleons that plied between Acapulco and the Philippines took refuge in Puerto Galera cove in the 1570s.