IBA, Zambales—It’s that time of the year when the aroma of freshly harvested mango wafts through Zambales, a coastal province facing the West Philippine Sea.
With orchards teeming with the summer fruit, the province stages the Mango Festival to highlight the contribution of Zambales mango in boosting its reputation as one of the top producers of the best-tasting varieties in the country.
In a message during the opening of the 15th National Mango Congress on March 20, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala promised the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) full commitment and support for the industry.
“Mango is one of the prime commodities in the DA’s High Value Crops Development Program as it is one of the country’s export winners,” he said.
Alcala said the Philippines, in 2012, exported 21,000 metric tons of mango-based products, worth $16 million, and around 9,400 MT of fresh mangoes, valued at $79.5 million.
“Count on the DA to continue providing the necessary production and logistics support. In turn, we depend on the support of the private sector and local governments to our programs, specifically in strengthening associations and providing counterpart funding,” he added.
“When you talk about the best mango in the world, you will surely think of our variety,” said Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.
He said fruit experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and Bureau of Plant Industry had considered Zambales’ Sweet Elena variety as the best carabao mango strain for commercialization.
The mango congress, he said, is a “giant step to invigorate the province’s mango industry and develop the full potential of the mango trade.”
The meeting gathered mango producers, farmers, marketers and scientists from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao and featured sessions on increasing mango farmers’ income, packaging and marketing trends in mango products, export-related issues, pest control and sustaining mango trees and orchards.
The event opened with a civic parade, float competitions, street dancing contest and cultural performances.
The 13th Mango Festival started on March 19 and included a first-time event called “parayawan” (to make beautiful), where the provincial capitol and 13 town halls were decorated with replicas of the fruit.
Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, chair of this year’s festival, said the parayawan was adopted to make the event “more felt in the province.”
The festival featured booths showcasing the best of mango products of every town: dried mangoes, wines, tart, jam, candies and souvenir items.
Samples of the original Zambales mangoes were presented, complete with mango carving competition and games, on March 21. The search for the mango master chef, mango wine mixing and bartending battles were held on March 22.
The festival shifted to a talent search on March 23, coupled by the search for the best bonsai, a grand parade and street dancing.
The festival is taken to the beaches of Zambales today (Sunday, March 24) for sports tourism. The night variety show features movie and television stars. Cesar Villa and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon