When is the best time to visit Guimaras? How about…NOW! This is the time when the Guimaras Mango Festival or better known in Philippines as Manggahan Festival is taking place here. Guimaras Mango Festival is the event of the year of this beautiful, lush green Province of Philippines, held to honor the sweetest mangoes of the world that are grown in this area, as well as to commemorate the foundation of the Province of Guimaras. The celebration is usually held every April in Jordan. The first festival dates back on May 22, 1993, when the first anniversary of Guimaras as an independent province was commemorated. This year the Province of Guimaras is celebrating the 22nd Foundation Day.
Usually Guimaras Mango Festival is a week long celebration, but this time it has been extended to more than a month long celebration, starting on April 1 and lasting until May 22, the Foundation Day of Guimaras. Another innovation of the Mango Festival is its location, extending the celebration from Jordan to all five municipalities of Guimaras: Jordan, Sibunag, Buenavista, San Lorenzo and Nueva Valencia.
This is the time to shine for the people of Guimaras. The tourists are flowing in to eat the delicious mangoes, admire the performances and take part in the merrymaking. Guimaras island is not only known for its fresh mangoes with the sweetest taste, but also for other native products made by its people. There are many beautiful and practical hand made products, such as baskets, bags, shoes, accessories and others you can purchase in the festival area.
As I have observed, people in Philippines are active and care about being healthy and fit, so there is no surprise that some of the events taking place during the Guimaras Mango Festival are 8 km and 16 km Mangorun, Manggahan Color Run, Mangoman Triathlon, Bike Competition, Airsoft Competition and Motocross Competition.
Manggahan Festival offers something for everyone: a sports lover, mango eater, cultural observer, party animal and even photography enthusiast. A photo contest with theme “Naturally Guimaras” allows not only the professionals but also amateurs and hobbyists to take a shot. There is a tempting 8000 php prize for the winner as well as 5000 php for 2nd place and 3000 php for 3rd.
I decided to attend the festival on April 27, happening in Jordan, since it is the closest location going from Iloilo City and besides the Manggahan Festival Cultural Competition and Mango Eat All You Can Competition, the main events that draw my attention, were happening on that day.
Festival Cultural Competition was definitely worth attending. Local dancers, dressed in colorful costumes, excitingly revealed the historic and cultural elements of Guimaras and mango harvesting by performing traditional dances. The Cultural Competition may not be on the same scale as the Dinagyang Festival, but with only six tribes performing they did a wonderful job, delighting the audience with qualitative and vivid performances.
One of the highlights of the Manggahan Festival is Mango Eat All You Can Competition, where the biggest mango eater is found. Usually the winner has eaten about 10-12 pounds of mangoes. Although I didn’t take part at the competition, I had a glimpse at the competitors while they were having their first bites and still had a big smiles on their faces! Well, I couldn’t blame them, since Guimaras mangoes are indeed the sweetest and tastiest ones I have tried. Mango has even become my favorite fruit after tasting the famous Guimaras mangoes.
More information about Guimaras Mango Festival 2014 as well as the schedules of the events in different towns can be found on their Facebook page.
Have you ever attended the Guimaras Mango Festival? What did you enjoyed the most: cultural performances, sport activities or maybe simply the taste of the supersweet Guimaras mangoes? I would be glad to hear your thoughts!