Interior photo of the Mangyan Research Center library
Inside the Mangyan Research Center library at Panaytayan

The idea of building a heritage center for the Mangyans was born in the early 1960s, when Antoon Postma, then a missionary priest, worked with Mangyan communities in Mansalay. Postma was able to see, live, and feel the beauty of the Mangyan culture, and started to document it. As his personal collection of publications on the Mangyans increased, he established the Mangyan Research Center (MRC) in Panaytayan, an upland Mangyan community in Mansalay.

The wealth of information continued to grow as Postma embarked on collaborative projects with institutions such as the Mangyan Mission, headed by Father Ewald Dinter, SVD. However, the center’s location far away in the highland south of Mindoro greatly limited its accessibility. Furthermore, the MRC was operating out of Mr. Postma's personal funds. In spite of its noble intentions, its long-term viability and existence were severely threatened.

In 1999, Quint Fansler, a former Jesuit volunteer assigned to Oriental Mindoro, worked with Postma and Dinter to establish the Mangyan Heritage Center in Calapan City, the provincial capital. The MRC collection would then be transferred to the MHC to preserve it and make it more accessible to researchers.

Fansler invited nine individuals of various expertise but with great interest in the Mangyan culture to form the MHC Board of Trustees. The first board meeting, held in April 2000, marked MHC's transformation from a mere project into an organization with various projects related to Mangyan culture.

MHC officially opened its doors to the public on November 14, 2000. The launching of the center, timed with the 50th founding anniversary of the province of Oriental Mindoro, was done according to traditional Mangyan rituals.

On March 16, 2001, MHC was registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-profit, non-stock corporation engaged in the preservation and promotion of the Mangyan cultural heritage. The MHC has current accreditation by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification and holds the distinction of being the first non-government organization in Mindoro to achieve this. It has also been accredited by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Mindoro. The MHC is also a member of the Association of Foundations.