Guimaras Mangoes are touted as the sweetest in the world, thus the demand for the fruit in local and international markets is high and it has become a centerpiece of the province of the island-province’s tourism sector.
These mangoes are served in Buckingham Palace and the White House. The sweet and succulent fruit was also featured in Magnolia Ice Cream’s Best of the Philippines through its Mangoes and Cream and Mangga’t Kasoy ice cream flavors.
Guimaras mangoes’ seeds and pulp were also confirmed to be weevil free by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS-USDA) and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
Features of Guimaras’ Carabao Mango
The mango variety in focus is the carabao mango, considered to be one of the best varieties because of its tender taste and slight aroma.
Originally from the Indo-Burma region which includes India, Burma and Malaya, the fruit is elongated and oblong-shaped which weighs about 270 to 440 grams and with thin and yellow pulp. Its flesh is yellow in color, very tender and melting with a delicate aromatic flavor while the fiber is medium-coarse, short and is almost cramped to the seed’s edge.
Its tree has a coarse, large and conical trunk with shallow and small cracks on the bark.It bears flowers as early as October while the fruit is available from November to June.
Carabao mangoes have different varieties including Talaban, Fresco, Guimaras Super (Galila), JTA Sweet, GES73, 77 84, 85 and Tanaleon, among others.
Galila is known as the “sweetest mango in the world” because it has a Total Soluble Solid (TSS) of 22˚ Brix.
Growth and Production
According to the Value Chain Analysis Report of the Guimaras Provincial Office for Agricultural Services (POAS), carabao mangoes are grown in all of the province’s five municipalities – Jordan, Buenavista, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo and Sibunag.
These towns comprise 60,457 hectares, wherein 92.84% or 56,127 hectares are dedicated to agriculture. About 16% of agricultural land is dedicated to mango plantations which, as of 2014, had 274,822 mango trees.
The years 2006 and 2007 were the peak of mango production in the province, largely because of demand for mangoes from growing companies like Dole Philippines, DHM, Hi-Las Marketing Inc., Diamond Star, and Lapanday Foods Inc.
From 2008 to 2013, the province of Guimaras’ mango industry posted an average growth of 5.99% with 10,025.68 MT produced in 2014. This is because of the support of the Provincial Government through the Provincial Office for Agricultural Services and the Department of Agriculture RFU VI-HVCDP Program on Mango Industry Interventions that provided mango growers with mango flower inducers and power sprayers.
The provision of inputs was channeled through the Guimaras Mango Growers and Producers Development Cooperative.
There are 7,482 mango growers in Guimaras. The Oro Verde Mango Plantation and Guimaras Tree Farm are the largest and are located in Buenavista.
Oro Verde alone spans 237.016 hectares with more than 18,000 grafted mango trees. That is approximately 13% of the total mango trees in the municipality.
The second largest mango plantation is Southern Orchard in Ravina, Sibunag. It spans 220 hectares with 14,000 grafted mango. That is almost 39% of the total mango population in Sibunag.
Guimaras’ mango production comprises 21% of Western Visayas’ total production, 60% is contributed by backyard growers while the 40% is produced by orchard. About 70% of the production is sold fresh while 30% is sold to local processors.
Where they are mangoes, there are by-products that provide more variety to consumers who want to try the sweetness in different forms. These are sold in grocery stores all around Western Visayas and popular as pasalubong items.
There are 11 mango processors in Guimaras who engage in this trade. They are the McNester Food Products (Buenavista), Trappist Monastic Products (Jordan), Guimaras Bests (Jordan), Boboy Delicacies (Jordan), Merlys Delicacies (Jordan), Daday’s (Jordan), The Pitstop (Jordan), GNP (Jordan), Guimaras Wonders (Jordan), Rochemar(Jordan) and DS The Real Sweets (Sibunag).
Their products are mango achara, drink concentrates and puree, ketchup, dried mango, mango piaya, barquillo de mangga, butterscotch, mango hopia and mango pizza, among others.
An ordinance regulating the harvesting and sale of immature mango fruits intended for table ripe consumption was promulgated in 2011 to maintain the status of the Province of Guimaras as the producer of the sweetest and the best quality mangoes.
In 2002, about 2.4% of the total mango production was allocated for export. Guimaras’ carabao mangoes were exported to Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, USA and Australia.
However, in 2008-2010, there was zero exportation due to La Niña which resulted in 38% production slash.
Exports to Australia resumed in 2011, only to be stopped in 2012 and resumed in 2013 to.
Players in the Guimaras mango industry envisioned a globally competitive fresh mango produce as there are more international markets to tap, such as the top 10 mango importers – USA, Netherlands, China, Germany, Hongkong, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, France and Spain.
This was confirmed by European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen in an article published in the Manila Bulletin recently. “There is indeed a market for Guimaras mangoes,” said Jessen.
The news article also mentioned that the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is working to provide Guimaras fresh mangoes with geographical branding which Jessen described as: “GI tagging is meant to associate the mangoes with Guimaras province, which can also bring a domino effect in terms of other trade opportunities with EU’s 28-member states.”
Indeed, with the continued empowerment, production of good quality fruits and adherence to equitable marketing systems, Guimaras’ mango industry can compete in the global market and further boost its economy and lure more tourists in the island-province.
GUIMARAS: PAST AND PRESENT
Apart from its world-class mangoes, pristine beaches and diverse resources, the province of Guimaras has a rich history that is worth sharing. R. Morales Maza, in his book “The Augustinians in Panay” (1987), wrote that Spaniards who were defeated in Mactan Island fled to Guimaras in 1521. “Spanish survivors flee from Mactan Island after their defeat and cruise closed to the southern coasts of Negros and Panay. Thus, giving the name Guimaraes to the small island lying very near to Panay, in order to immortalize in this part of the world ‘the first capital of his (referring to Antonio Pigafetta) country and the birth place of Portuguese nationality,” Maza wrote.
In 1572, the island was home to highly skilled carpenters who are masters in building all kinds of ships. At that time, Miguel Loarca was the encomiendero of the entire island, which was later inherited by his daughter Doña Lucia de Loarca. This is according to the book “The Oton Diggings” by Jose B. Tiongco, 1969.
In 1609, Mindanao chiefs who attacked the town of Arevalo (formerly in Oton) came to the island to rest. Thus, Guimaras was under the jurisdiction of Oton in 1731.
In 1742, it was placed under the jurisdiction of Dumangas when the Augustinian order ceded it to the Jesuits. However, Guimaras was taken over by the Dominicans in 1768 and made the island a parish of Iloilo.
Guimaras was so beautiful that Americans fell in love with the place. According to Felix B. Regalado and Quintin B. Franco in their book “History of Panay” (1973), a zoology professor from the University of Michigan and his companions stayed in Salag Daku (now Barangay Zaldivar) to regain their health and gathered valuable materials in 1887. This man was Dean C. Worcester, who later became a member of the Philippine Commission.
The year 1894 saw the construction of the now famous tourist destination Guisi Lighthouse in Nueva Valencia. Made of metal and fibreglass, it was named as Punta Luzaran Lighthouse Station (Farro de Punta Luzaran). It became a symbol of international acknowledgement as a strategic navigational landmark for the world’s economic sustainability and development.
Then came World War II and the turmoil created by war did not spare Guimaras. In 1943, Japanese soldiers massacred 998 people, according to the book “Guerilla Warfare in Panay Island Philippines” by Col. Gamaliel Manikan, Ret. Armored Cavalry.
In 1966, Guimaras Island was declared a sub-province of Iloilo. But in 1992, then Governor Catalino G. Nava, MD. initiated a plebiscite to push for the island’s provincehood.
It was in the year 1969 when Guimaras was envisioned as a potential “Mango Island”. The vision started with the development of a mango nursery on 8.872 has. of land donated by Romirico Chavez and late Senator Oscar Ledesma and through the initiative of then BPI regional director Pedro M. Asico.
Guimaras became a full-fledged province on May 22, 1992 and its first governor was Emily Relucio-López.
Then in 2006, the worst oil spill in the history of the Philippines happened. Guimaras’ tourism came to a standstill when the 998-ton M/T Solar 1, carrying 2.4 million litres of bunker fuel, sank 17 kilometres off the island’s southern coast and contaminated the sea and beaches. About 1,000 hectares of mangroves were affected including the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve.
Through immediate clean-up and rehabilitation efforts, the island regained its health back and to this day, continues to be one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country and the source of the sweetest mangoes in the world.
GAINING WHILE GREENING (State of the Province Address 2018)
The Honorable Members of the 8th Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Guimaras ably headed by Atty. John Edward G. Gando, the Representative of the Lone District of Guimaras, the Honorable Ma. Lucille L. Nava, MD, our municipal and barangay officials, provincial government employees, guests and partners in development, fellow public servants and the people of Guimaras, isa ka mainit nga pagtamyaw sa inyo tanan.
On my fifth State of the Province Address, allow me to share some of the major outcomes of each of our hardwork. While we remain to anchor on globally practiced governance paradigm of not compromising the environmental assets over development, we also highly advocate for climate justice and renewable energy; that while we are gaining, we never forget greening.
I always believed that our micro efforts will have macro effects. No matter how small your steps are, they create huge impacts in the society. These major outcomes ensued because of our partnership and commitment to work for our vision of becoming the agri-eco tourism capital of Western Visayas.
Ignorance of the importance of environmental protection has taken its toll; not only locally, but all over the country. While there is a global revolution for the intensive integration of Sustainable Development Goals in local planning, challenges still exist which makes it difficult for local government units to translate this into reality.
Towards this test, Guimaras defies this ignorance and supports this green movement through local initiatives that gained national and international recognitions. We have been awarded the Champion on Environmental Governance of Excellence in Local Governance or EXCELL Awards of the Department of Interior and Local Government in 2017.
With our strong stance against coal, the Province of Guimaras became the very first province in the Visayas to be declared coal-free by Greenpeace International through the conferment of the Seal of Climate Leadership.
This recognized our province by catalyzing a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action by embracing renewable energy and its commitment to promote climate justice, ecological integrity and sustainable development.
Following this citation is the Climate Reality Leadership Award which cites Guimaras pioneering for local sustainability by rejecting coal-related operations and promoting renewable energy.
These awards indicate our drive to protect our environment and because we are all in dire need to understand the risks of climate change and firmly resolve this by taking urgent actions.
We have been implementing the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Program for more than a decade. Years after its birth, it is now considered as our “island’s key development strategy” and resulted to be finally being institutionalized through Provincial Ordinance No. 2018-06 also known as the ICM Ordinance.
While it has been applied in dozens of sites across East Asia, covering more than 31,000 kilometers of coastline and benefitting tens of millions of people living in coastal and watershed areas, we are happy that Guimaras is emerging to be a successful implementer of this international partnership.
For the first time, we have successfully hosted the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments last November 29 attended by all the ICM sites in East Asia. And during the said international forum, we have officially launched our second State of the Coasts making us the very first ICM site to publish this paper.
We are strengthening our 12 Marine Protected Areas in partnership with the local communities by providing financial assistance to improve and establish management facilities and technical assistance for the operations.
Php 8.4 million was accessed from international funding agencies such as the KOICA, Yeosu Foundation and PEMSEA GEF Fund for the improvement of Pamanculan Fish Sanctuary and Tumalintinan Point MPA.
With the improvement in the management and operations of our MPAs, fishers in the province observed increase in their fish catch. Poachers were reduced and fish stocks increased inside the core zone.
Recent survey of fish density reveals that after several years of protection, the increase ranges from 204 to 213 percent.
Coral covers inside the core zone likewise increased from 12% in 2015 to 19% in 2017.
During our recent provincewide coastal cleanup, it was observed that most of the wastes collected were from human daily consumption such as straws, plastic containers. Thus, I am strongly encouraging all of you to do your fair share with the little things you do. The one plastic straw we use could lead to the death of one sea turtle.
The performance of our province can also be attributed to the performance of our municipalities. The leadership and good governance are contributory to our goal of becoming the agri-eco tourism capital of the region.
With our thrusts on strengthening our economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency, the Province of Guimaras was awarded the Most Competitive Province in the region for 2017. However, this year, our 27th spot dropped to 43rd this year.
This ranking is based on population and income weighted average of the overall scores of our five municipalities. Allow me to discuss briefly the status of competitiveness of our component towns.
Under 1st to 2nd class, Buenavista’s ranking went down from 150th in 2017 to 167th to 2018. Economic dynamism and infrastructure areas exponentially improved but has a notable drop in government efficiency and resiliency.
3rd to 6th class, the competitiveness of Jordan, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo and Sibunag generally decreased.
Jordan from 79 to 128 Nueva Valencia from 28 to 144 San Lorenzo from 414 to 421 and Sibunag from 456 to 460.
Towards our desire to hit the goal of becoming the agri-eco tourism capital of the region, we have been focusing on capital expenditures that highly support agriculture and tourism products and services.
This year, we have celebrated the silver glory of Manggahan Festival. On its two-weeklong celebration, our tourist arrival has 32% increase from 68,550 in 2017 to 90,492 in 2018 while our tourism receipts doubled from 56.4 M in 2017 to 85.4 M in 2018 or (51.27%)