Arawatan is a mangyan term from the Hanunuo tribe which means "cooperation" and helping each other". This is not merely a word which denotes something but is part of the tribe's culture. Arawatan comes from the root word awat which means "help" or "assist".
In a Mangyan society, arawatan spirit is experienced throughout the year in every activity or endeavour. The mangyans' livelihood is basically agricultural and arawatan is employed by the people in their activities. During planting season, friends and relatives are invited to help in the preparation of the land known as durok. Durok is an activity which involves the clearing of the forest, cutting down small trees and weeds, drying them under the sun and burning on the later part of May when the first heavy drops of rain occur. No monetary or any material payment is given to those who come and help in planting. Food is prepared only by the owner of the land and offered to those who help.
Prior to the coming of the Spaniards in 1571, Mindoro was already known to the Chinese merchants who plied the waters to conduct their commercial expeditions. Trading relationship existed between the Philippines and China, particularly, in the eastern part of the island. For this reason, after Miguel Lopez de Legaspi discovered the island in 1569, Goiti, as master of camp, sailed to Mindoro on May 8, 1570, and encountered the Chinese merchants. But even as they transacted business with the islanders, to the amazement of the Spaniards, there had already been signs of Hindu and Pagan influence in the place.
The earnest conquest of Mindoro began in 1570 in the district of Mamburao, when Juan de Salcedo subjugated the inhabitants under the Spanish authority. The early names of Mindoro were Mai and Mina de Oro. The latter is a contraction of the Spanish description of the phrase which means ""gold mine."" Although there were no major gold discoveries, panners and Mangyans have found gold in small quantities in the rivers of Baco, Binaybay, Bongabong, and Magasawan Tubig.