By John Noel E. Herrera
Guimaras is the Mango Capital of the Philippines because it is home to the sweetest mangoes in the country.
This is what Governor JC Rahman Nava highlighted in a press conference on Monday, May 15, 2023, noting that the province is particularly focused on the quality of mangoes they produce, not just the volume.
“I am trying to emphasize that we have the sweetest mangoes, but we don’t produce much. Kung we will be talking only of production sa whole country, we are only a few percentage as far as the country’s production, in fact we are less than 10 percent share sa production,” Nava said.
The mangoes in Guimaras have also been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag which provides protection to the product and assures its quality.
Vice Governor John Edward Gando, on the other hand, said that the farmers follow certain standards from spraying, harvesting, and the post-production process of mangoes, citing that there is an existing ordinance which prohibited farmers from harvesting mangoes below 115 days to assure the quality of the fruit.
“Diri sa probinsya may local ordinance kita nga nagabawal sa pagharvest sang mangga nga below siya 115 days. Therefore, ang aton paho, umpisa sa start asta sa pagharvest, 115 days siya nga exposed, so that’s how risky ang aton mango production sa Guimaras,” Condo said.
Gando admitted the decline in the production of mangoes in the province due to climate change, but he reiterated that the quality remains the best.
“Sa subong nga tuig, supposedly, during this time, damo na tani aton paho kung normal lang ang aton production season, pero since last December asta first week sang January, daw almost naga-ulan di sa Guimaras, which affected the usual season sang mangga diri,” he said, while also assuring that the supply of mangoes for this year’s Manggahan Festival is enough.
This year’s sweet comeback of the Manggahan Festival kicked off last April 29 with a wide array of activities dubbed “Imbukada” and with the highlight slated on May 22.
The provincial government also lined up full-packed activities during the month-long celebration, which include the Agri-Fishery and Eco-Tourism Expo, Dance Sport Competition, Battle of the Bands, Coof-off Challenge, Bike Fest, Street Dance Battle, Job Fair, Mango Harvest Festival Pick, and Miss Guimaras.
Despite the decline in production, the provincial government allotted around 100 tonnes of mangoes for the most-anticipated “Mango-Eat-All-You-Can” event, where tourists can feast on mouth-watering sweet mangoes from May 19 to 22.
They have expanded the venue to accommodate around 150 visitors per batch where they can enjoy eating unlimited mangoes within 30 minutes for only P150.
From around 18,000 reported visitors last year, the provincial government said that they are expecting around 60,000 tourist arrivals for this year’s celebration of the Manggahan Festival as there are no restrictions already due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MANGOES AND MORE
Nava also noted that the celebration of the Manggahan Festival and the entire tourism campaign of the province is not only focused on mangoes, as Guimaras is gearing towards a holistic approach in promoting its tourism industry.
In September 2022, they held the first Dragon Fruit Festival, noting the potential of the fruit in the province as it fits well with their goal of converging agriculture, environment, fishery, and eco-tourism as economic drivers of Guimaras.
Aside from dragon fruits, they also found a potential for its bangus industry as the province recorded a 7.35 percent growth in 2022, which contributed to one of the largest shares in its agrifishery industry.
Nava added that aside from the innovations and developments they made for these products, the province continues to promote and protect its eco-tourism sites, and preserve their culture and tradition.
“Like mga historical and cultural sites, as well, napang-identify dun na naton tanan. Mga produkto ta like tultul, and iban pa gid, ini nga mga traditions, they are still there and ginatagaan ta man na siya importansya kag gina promote. Wala pa man sang traditional products nga pinabay-an kay ara sila gyapon tanan sa promotion sang province,” the governor said.
The provincial government added that they have established community-based rural tourism and conducted cultural mapping of the province’s traditional and historical assets for them to identify the proper preservation process for the said cultural domains of Guimaras.