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PHILIPPINES lays claim to World's Best Tasting Mango ... 

Zambales celebrates world’s best-tasting mango

Zambales celebrates world’s best-tasting mango



IBA, Zambales—Summer may spell sea, sun and sand to most people, but in this province this time of sweltering heat means only one thing: the much-awaited festival held each year in praise of the world’s best-tasting mango fruit.

Zambales’s golden fruit—revered by connoisseurs for its fleshy consistency and tarty taste—is reputed to be the best mango in the world. 

No less than the Guinness Book of World Records said that Zambales produces the sweetest fruits, specifically the Sweet Elena variety of “carabao” mango (Mangiferaindica) that is found in Santa Cruz town. 

The sweetest of the sweet reportedly came from a 108-year-old mother tree at a 5-hectare mango orchard in the village of Sabang.

Local growers swear that the best-tasting fruits come from orchards near the sea, which is why the fruits grown on San Salvador Island in Masinloc town are among the most sought-after by those in the know.


“It’s not actually the sweetness that makes Zambales mango flavorful; it’s the hard-to-describe linamnam that is the X-factor here,” said Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

“And if you want to know whether the fruit has this distinctive desired taste, you have to smell it. If it smells bland, then the fruit tastes bland. But if it has this flavorful smell, then it must be Zambales mango,” he added proudly.

In celebration of this sun-kissed fruit that has made Zambales hugely popular among fruit lovers, the provincial government organizes the Zambales Mango Festival each summer. Zambales tourism officer Tel Mora says it’s a trade fair, products exhibit and local fiesta rolled into one.

“We’ve been having this festival since year 2000, when the local Small- and Medium-Enterprises Development Council initiated it as a pilot project with the support of the provincial government and the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry]. The first time it came out, it was already a three-day event, with the street-dancing contest and the trade fair as anchor activities,” Mora said.

“Over the years, the festival has grown, and more events like fun games and LGU [local government unit] exhibits and competitions were added,” Mora said. And this year, when organizers transferred the festival to the Zambales Sports Complex, which is a bigger venue, after holding it in front of the Provincial Capitol building for the last 11 years, the event doubled the number of exhibitors to the fair. These included weavers from La Union, longganisa-makers from Vigan, woodcraft producers from Abra, pottery-makers from Tarlac, leather-makers from Bulacan and organic-herb growers from Laguna.

This year the Mango Festival included fun activities that were held during daytime: mango-eating challenges, T-shirt design contest and the “Pinaka” exhibit and competition, which showcased the best products from various LGUs. At night, the venue came alive, meanwhile, with the Invitational Dance Crew Competition on April 20; the Banda at Komedya show, which featured rock band Kamikazee and standup comic Ate Gay, on April 21; and the “Zamba Summer Saya!” variety extravaganza, which capped the festival on the evening of April 22.

Also this year the organizers cooked up a new feature for the festival—the float parade, which also showcased the best products and cultural features of local communities. In this competition, the Palauig LGU bested more than 10 other entries with its rendition of Mount Tapulao, the highest peak in Zambales which boasts of dwarfed pine trees and vegetation. Palauig brought home the P70,000 first-prize money, while the San Marcelino LGU, which put up a singkamas-themed float to celebrate its best-known local product, won P50,000 as second placer. Nature’s Replica, a design and décor company in Masinloc town, received P30,000 for its nature-themed float. The nine other entries also received consolation prizes of P20,000 each.

The P70,000 prize for best booth, meanwhile, was won by the San Marcelino LGU. Its entry depicted the town’s “Mango Highway,” where roadside venders offer mango and other homegrown fruits and vegetables. The second best booth was that of Iba LGU, which received P50,000, and the third was San Marcelino’s, which was given the prize of P30,000. Eight other exhibit booths received a consolation prize of P20,000 each.

As the main event, the mango-themed street-dancing competition was allocated the biggest prize money: P120,000 for the champion in street-dancing, P30,000 for the best in costume and P20,000 for the best in parade. And all these were bagged by the Masinloc Street Dancers, who, as winners for the third consecutive year, were elevated to the Hall of Fame. The second prize of P80,000 went to the SK Street Dancers of Botolan, while the third prize of P50,000 went to the Ibayli Street Dancers of Iba town.

In all, it was a successful celebration of local culture, in addition to being a productive festival in praise of the world’s best-tasting mango fruit. The huge crowd in attendance was proof loud and clear, organizers said. “Other mango-producing areas may have beaten us in terms of exports, but clearly it is still Zambales mangoes that Filipinos love. That’s a source of pride for us,” concludes Ebdane. Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, meanwhile, challenged local growers to make Zambales mango a year-round produce to better promote the fruit in local and international markets.

Zambales tourism’s Tel Mora said the success of the three-day festival this year inspired her team to bring the Zambales Mango Festival to a higher level.

“It will be bigger and better, and it will be more fun in Zambales next year. That is for sure,” she enthused.

In Photo: The “Mango Highway” booth by the San Marcelino local government unit (LGU) was adjudged as the best booth entry at the “Pinaka-LGU” competition and The Masinloc Street Dancers, with lead dancer Ciashyash Ela, wow the crowd to win the best performance in parade during the street-dancing competition.

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