The island of Guimaras is a bountiful trove of tropical agriculture, especially known for being the producer of one of the best-tasting mangoes in the world. Its mangoes have reportedly been served at the White House and the Buckingham Palace. The mangoes in Guimaras are recognized worldwide not only because of their sweetness but also for their sweet aroma and succulent flesh. Even the Guinness Book of World Records in 1995 listed the Carabao Mango variety as being the sweetest in the world. Compared to other mangoes, it also has thinner seeds and skin that’s easy to peel.
With mango being the national fruit of the Philippines, it goes without saying that the island producing the juiciest and sweetest mangoes is admired. In fact, Guimaras is known as the “Mango Capital of the Philippines.” It is an island-province located in Western Visayas and used to be a sub-province of Iloilo until the early ’90s. It has five municipalities namely Buenavista, Jordan, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo, and Sibunag—all of them involved in the mango industry.
It should also come as no surprise then that their biggest event of the year is in celebration of this luscious fruit. The Manggahan Festival is a month-long festivity showcasing the richness of the island’s culture and also serves as a way of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest. One of the highlights of the fiesta is the “Mango All You Can.” It was recorded that 17,100 kilograms of mangoes were consumed by both foreign and local visitors in 2018. The island produces about 11,000 metric tons of mangoes annually.
And while the island is as hospitable as most places in the Philippines, Guimaras however doesn’t welcome other mango fruits and seeds not grown in the province. The Plant Quarantine Service of the Bureau of Plant Industry provides a Plant Quarantine Security System to protect the island’s mango industry. Guimaras is declared as a Special Quarantine Zone, free from infestation of mango pulp and mango seed weevils.
The local government also implements ordinances in order to regulate the harvesting and sale of immature mango fruits. This is necessary to maintain the status of Guimaras as the producer of the sweetest and highest quality mangoes. The local government also equips and subsidizes mango growers.
To this day, government agencies and departments are stepping things up to market the world-famous mangoes in Eastern Europe. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is conducting an eight-day Mango Expo at the DA Central Office in Quezon City starting May 2, wherein an estimated five to ten metric tons of mangoes from Guimaras will be for sale to the general public. — DANIEL MARCO NICANOR