07 December 2014
MANILA, Philippines – With its sweet, unique flavor, it’s not surprising that mango ranks high among the world’s favorite fruits, and is the Philippines’ national fruit. In fact, an international study shows that thrice as many mangoes as apples are eaten. Aside from being deliciously succulent, mango is rich in vitamins A, C, and E and is loaded with fiber.
Mango is grown in over 90 countries, and Asia contributes almost 80% of global output. India is the largest producer and the Philippines, the 9th largest.
The word mango (mangga in Filipino and Malay) was derived from the Tamil term mangay. The fruit originated from the sub-Himalayan fields of India, found its way to Malaya, and reached East Asia between the 5th and 4th centuries BC. By the 10th century AD, it was already being cultivated in Africa.
Mango is the Philippines’ 3rd biggest fruit export, after pineapple and banana. Eighty percent of the export is composed of the carabao variety, which known internationally as “Manila Super Mango,” and which Americans refer to as “champagne mango.” However, although there are more than 200 mango varieties, only four are widely distributed in the market: carabao (manggang kalabaw), pico (piko), katchamita (Indian), and pahutan (mangifera altissima).
Unlike the other varieties, carabao is more slender and has a yellow to orange skin. Its flesh is very soft and sweet — the reason for its high demand in other countries. Among the top producers of mango are the provinces of Pangasinan, Negros Occidental, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Zamboanga del Norte. Other growers are Guimaras, Cebu, Davao, Saranggani, General Santos, Misamis Oriental, Cotabato, Ilocos, and Sultan Kudarat.
In 1995, the mango from the island of Guimaras in the Western Visayas region was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the sweetest mango. Located off the coast of Iloilo province in the Panay Gulf, Guimaras is home to over 50,000 mango trees, making it the 3rd most important crop of this province. It is said that mangoes from this region are being served in the White House in the US and the Buckingham Palace in England.
The National Mango Research Development Center (NMRDC) in the municipality of San Miguel, Jordan, in Guimaras has facilitated more advanced mango production in the island and helped increase the productivity of small-scale mango growers. The organization was able to develop a procedure that eliminates mango seed and pulp weevils in accordance with the requirements of the US Department of Agriculture and Australia. Thus, only Guimaras is allowed to export high quality mangoes to these two countries.
Thanks to NMRDC’s continuous research on both production and technology, the island is the only province in the Philippines that is free of quarantine pests. In fact, mangoes from other regions in the Philippines are not allowed to enter Guimaras to prevent foreign insects from infesting the island’s trees.
Guimaras recently celebrated its 21stManggahan Festival, which aims to further promote its mango industry. Stalls were set up and adorned with ripe and green mangoes. Some were made to appear like big chandeliers. Products such as shakes, dried mangoes, mango peanut brittle, and pickled mangoes were sold. The festival is the best time to enjoy the province, as it also commemorates the 22nd Foundation Day of Guimaras. Highlights include street dancing and “Mango All You Can Eat.”
Filipinos eat mangoes ripe or while they are still green. To eat a ripe mango, it is peeled (often using bare hands) or sliced along the seed. Green mangoes are usually taken with salt or shrimp paste (bagoong). Whether ripe or green, mangoes can also be prepared as dessert, processed into juices and purees, and used as flavors for ice cream and confectionaries. Guimaras prides itself in the very addicting “mango pizza,” which combines mango and cheese that melt in your mouth.
Apart from being delectable table fare, mangoes are a source of numerous health benefits. They protect against colon, breast, and prostate cancer; lower bad cholesterol; and eliminate pimples. Being rich in Vitamin A, the ripe fruit improves vision. Green mango juice mixed with water helps cool down the body, preventing heat stroke. Ripe mangoes are also rich in Vitamin E and contain enzymes that improve digestion. Meanwhile, mango leaves are boiled to treat diabetes.
The government’s support for the mango industry has made the Philippines one of the top producers of mango worldwide. Among the foreign markets for Philippine mangoes are Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and America. The Republic of Austria in Central Europe is the latest addition to the country’s growing list of mango importers.