Saturday, May 7, 2011

Manggahan Festival: This is something mango-ish!

Guimaras mangoes. A mouth-watering sight during Manggahan Festival 2011

Mangoes have continuously gained popularity being delicious, pulpy, and well, tropical. Seasonal and one of the most sought-after fruits in the country or even abroad, one can eat as much for a price. This is especially true for us city dwellers. There was this one opportunity, fortunately, for mango lovers as Guimaras Province opened doors to “eating mangoes until your stomach surrenders” scheme. Besides the much cheaper price, it is best to eat where it is actually grown.
View by the sea. On board the motorboat to Guimaras

Just a fifteen-minute boat ride from Iloilo City, the former sub-province of Guimaras lies on Guimaras Strait. There are moves to build a bridge that will connect the island to the city, but since it will be excessive to foresee by now, the usual way to get there is by motor boat. Trust me, the sight is spectacular. On your way, never bother comparing mangoes from other locations with those from the island. You will surely lose sight of your keepsakes as bags are inspected! There has been an ongoing “No mango in” policy. This one way of preserving the biological qualities makes Guimaras mangoes one of a kind. It is a worldwide export. Who would want to ruin it?

What's inside? The entrance to the Manggahan festival ground.

Determined to uplift the popularity of the produce, Guimarasnons conceptualized the festival called “Manggahan”. Mangga is the Filipino term for the fruit, but locally, it is called “paho”. For the locals, public awareness of the fruit and its originating farms means additional demand for their produce and thus, increasing income. It has been a collaborative effort among communities to continue ensuring they produce only the best. This can be proven by their patience of covering every single fruit to avoid spots. Only the best will have to be in the market. Those that are not so flawless will have to go for household consumption, sometimes, for give-aways when you drop by the farms. The festival also paved way to increasing the number of tourist trips in the island. This means additional income to local farmers, as many tourists-local or foreign would like to taste their famous produce, and jobs for those involve in the resorts industry with the province having the most accessible white sand beaches from Iloilo city and the nearby areas. You do not have to go to Boracay with the six-hour bus trip to experience fine white sand. It is just an hour away from the city. In fact, the island has become the favorite weekend getaway of city dwellers.

Getting that number. People patiently lined up for their priority number
to the all-you-can-eat mangoes of Guimaras

With the long lines for the boat ticketing in Iloilo City, it is perfectly obvious that many will be spending the day in the island. Arriving there on festival highlight, you can see the happy faces. While most of them were busy, some were looking around with the spectacular sight of people of different sizes, languages and color crowding in its smaller town ground. In the lines, tourists have been patient to wait their turn in getting tickets under the scourging heat of the sun. The locals gladly paved way for those who are obviously mango-hungry looking people. That was also a day of advertising as local businesses gave freebies. Wherever you turn, there are distinct differences on the languages people around us used. The shady areas served as the reception to those who waited nearby the capitol ground.

All smiles. Who said you will have to be pissed with long lines?
Not the case when mangoes are waiting.
Made festive by the flaglets as far as from the wharf, the mood is simply happy. On the way, music seems to be coming from every direction. There have been polls of local talents entertaining the arrivals. The venue was set in a wide space fronting the provincial capitol. Decorated with a welcoming fa├žade, emphasizing the theme of the festival, it has been wrapped for exclusivity. All kinds of mango products, from fresh fruits to bars and tarts can be found. All you have to do is just circle the sea of bazaars. Safety was not a concern, as there is much police visibility.

Waiting their turn. Sitting on the grass, getting ready for the mango attack.

At the ticketing area, everyone seemed eager and patient. Individuals will have to personally get a priority number to enter. The heat of the summer may not very great, but everyone enjoyed the mood. Different looks, different accents, colors, and never-ending camera shots~! Accommodating only a certain number or people per time bracket, most waited their turn for an hour of all-you-can-eat mangoes. For us who live in the city, it is something worth waiting. Back home, mango is expensive and the quality is not quite as good as the one branded “Guimaras”. At the entrance, people were handed stickers with the estimated time of having to leave the area. Looking at the tourists’ registration, I was surprised that guests came a long way, even from Manila or overseas. Long tables are set under the shade, ideal for sharing and eventually winning new friends. This is another countless photo opportunity.

Settled. Ready for the all-you-can-eat experience.
It was almost half past twelve when guests are way too much than expected. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of the produce. Lucky are those who were able to get in earlier. Having such an opportunity, we never wasted time trying to outdo friends by figures. One, two, three mangoes are just the base point. After about an hour, the highest registered figure eaten by the group member was 10! We enjoyed choosing the mangoes from the counter, and eating them the way it should be- peeling the mango by hand, biting it in right places or else you will have an itchy throat! Oh, danger, but I guess we all have mango addiction that nobody exhibited after effects- except loud burps and of course shiny and sticky chin! That’ more than the regular lunch! Six large mangoes for me, that is not too bad.

Food hunter? Some food at the Manggahan 2011 festival stalls

Do you love mangoes, or are you just curious? Go to Guimaras when you have the chance. It is delightful to eat freshly picked mangoes right in the place it is grown! Trust me, that is different. See you next year. Mark the next mango festival so you will not miss it!

1 comment:

  1. great info!
    I have been to guimaras.. nice place talaga at yung mangoes.. sarap!