12 Mar2008


My family is definitely biased about our mangoes, and I have written a post on Cebu mangoes before. Though I now admit that approximately 40% of the mangoes we currently consume come from the island of Guimaras, due to convenience (I have a suki at my regular Saturday market run), and they are very good, I am a Cebu mango lover, tried and true. I have often wondered how the Cebuano mangoes manage to not only possess a wonderful, smooth, flavorful, juicy and almost fiber-less mouthfeel, but also an incredibly thin, smooth and apparently, blemish free skin or peel. Well, now I know the answer to the blemish free skin… The last time I was in Cebu, I decided to take a drive out to Busay, an agricultural area in the center or heart of the island, and on the way, we passed by several mango plantations and I was stunned to see all of these fruiting trees with each of the fruit individually wrapped or sheathed in paper “jackets.”


Thousands upon thousands of these paper jackets appeared on dozens and dozens of trees. It was a rather stunning site. First of all, just making the jackets and individually placing them on young fruit must be incredibly labor-intensive. And I presume fruits are culled so that the energy of the tree focuses on the selected remaining fruits. And the spectre of a heavy rainstorm in the midst of the dry season (as we have been experiencing lately) must wreak havoc on these paper jackets unless they are somehow water resistant. Once ripe, the mangoes are carefully harvested by hand and transported to the markets, the highest quality mangoes commanding a price of PHP80-100 a kilo retail, even in Cebu! The jackets keep away bugs and pests, I presume and they must also have some impact on the smoothness and color of the mango skins as well. Amazing… Oh, and one last thing… mango trivia… according to this Purdue University site (I love this site for factual information on fruits, veggies, etc.), the average 20 year old mango tree can yield up to 1,000 fruit or so. And get this, the record production for one tree in India is said to be 29,000 fruit! On a well planted hectare of land, you could yield up to 40,000 kilograms of mangoes per hectare per year, and at just PHP25 per kilo at the tree wholesale, that’s a whopping PHP1 million per hectare, whoa!



  1. dhayL says:

    This is my ulitimate dream sort of if i win the lotto, hehehe i would love to have a farm with lots lots of mango trees back home!

    I heard that Guimaras mangoes are stunning as well, they even have ketsup made out of mangoes!

    As for me, philippine mangoes are the best, nothing beats that! :)

    Mar 12, 2008 | 4:02 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    From aerial view your first picture – the paper bags look like cascading lanterns in a greenish landscaped area. We are making a benchmarked progress in cultivating our very own flavorful and delicate tasting carabao mangoes and piko varieties which are incomparable from their counterparts anywhere in the world! Now, it does surprise me if I pay x amount for a bag of dried mangoes. I know part of money goes to evolutionary tasks in keeping them blemishes free and perhaps they are even pesticide-free in paper bags. Talking about organic farming we have it here.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 4:28 am

  4. erleen says:


    paano kaya nila naabot ung pinaka-mataas na part?

    Mar 12, 2008 | 6:25 am

  5. danney says:

    Me too I wonder how they did that? Baka may stilt or dwarf mango trees? Tapos isa isa?

    Mar 12, 2008 | 6:40 am

  6. elaine says:

    I thought for a second the photo up top were flowering trees…my mom’s family wouldn’t probably adopt this practice as we have been enjoying very sweet mangoes(pangasinan) over the years, blemished or unblemished…but then Philippine mangoes are generally one of the best world!

    Mar 12, 2008 | 6:57 am

  7. c says:

    Sweet mangoes! Yum! In a Southeast Asia Research Center I worked in, one fellow made the mistake of blurting out,”****(another SEA country) have the best mangoes!” The whole office stopped,turned to the poor fellow, then yelled at him, “wrong! the best mangoes come from the Philippines!” A proud pinoy moment.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:09 am

  8. goldilocks says:

    I soo love mangoes. Where is the best place to buy the mangoes? We are flying to Cebu this summer. Tnx!

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:14 am

  9. eej says:

    I was shopping in an Asian store yesterday and saw a box prominently labeled as “Manila Mangoes”. I beelined towards it but was disappointed when I saw the fine print on the side of the box “Produce from Mexico”. What a bummer!

    A clear indication on Manila mangoes international popularity.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:24 am

  10. bernadette says:

    wow! We have several mango trees and your pictures really amazes me at the kasipagan of these mango growers! It’s really no joke even harvesting mangoes but putting bags individually on each?…it makes me now think how much goes into labor, transport, packaging from the price of each mango(?).

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:43 am

  11. kasseopeia says:

    Wow! Our mangoes are just sublime! I’ve tried a variety fron Thailand and another from Indonesia and both were very sweet but very fibrous. Kind of scary to smile after scraping the pulp up with your teeth… a rogue fiber may be waving hello from in between! Nothing beats the sweetness, succulence and the creamy smoothness of Philippine mangoes.

    Like you, MM, I may not be able to tell the difference between a Guimaras and a Cebu mango in a blindfold test BUT I can most definitely tell a Philippine mango from those of other…err, nationalities.

    I was able to get mangoes at the Alabang market for about 30 pesos a kilo. The peel was blemish-ful! But I can’t complain, though, the pulp was a deep yellow and sweet as love! Got three kilos of this stuff, ate one kilo as it is (peeled by hand) and made the other two into milky ice candy! Yum!

    Mar 12, 2008 | 8:10 am

  12. Aleli says:

    The price of unblemished (pang-export) mangoes differ substantially from blemished (pang-“Zesto”) hence the need to jacket the fruits. The traders usually bring their own men to jacket the fruits (traders who buy the fruits of the trees even before these trees flower). They are very fast and efficient, and based on their own stories would reach the heights of any mountains and trees to do their stuff. Very masipag.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 8:51 am

  13. Homebuddy says:

    Ah mangoes! They are said to be the majestic of all Filipino fruits. I’m always reminded of the Filipino folklore that tells about the origin of mangoes and why they are shaped like a heart, whenever the topic is mangoes.
    Yes, Cebu mangoes are said to be the sweetest of all because it has something to do with the soil. My father started planting over a hundred trees in Busay some 50 yrs. ago, but sad to say there might only be a few surviving ones today because of neglect and the encargado only brings us a few baskets each year.
    Mango plantations are now cropping up in Leyte and our mangoes can compete with Cebu mangoes. One of these days it may yet be another Guimaras.
    Modesty aside, we have a mango plantation of over 1,000 trees
    and 350 are already fruit bearing, being 12 years old. Some started bearing last year, but we found they are not too profitable because we only get one fourth share. The lion share goes to the people who spray, bag and harvest the fruit. Mangoes are labor intensive when made to fruit, unlike coconuts where once planted that’s it! We are just keeping our fingers crossed that it may yet produce the results expected and hoped for because we have been told beforehand that the first yield usually isn’t much but the next crop might yield more.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 9:57 am

  14. Homebuddy says:

    I’m quite hopeful with your estimates MM. But true, even at the price of P10 they said it would be profitable, but I have yet to see results.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 10:01 am

  15. Eileen Clement says:

    Your post reminded me of happy childhood memories of “panag-buras” (harvest)in La Union; we had a spread of all possible ‘sawsawans’ laid on dahon ng saging — bagoong munamon, bagoong na alamang, asin, asukal (white, brown or mixed!), suka, catsup, toyo, patis, sukang may sili,luya even vetsin!(what were we thinking!) for the “fallen” mangoes. The memory always makes me smile.
    Thanks, MM!

    Mar 12, 2008 | 10:20 am

  16. nina says:

    Philippine Mangoes are the best that I’ve tasted. It’s mango season again and I’m gonna miss it again :(

    Mar 12, 2008 | 12:15 pm

  17. joey says:

    Our mangoes are the best in the world in my humble opinion! :) Now, whether Guimaras or Cebu should take the prize…that could be the subject of some very pleasurable taste tests! Knowing me, I would keep calling a tie simply so I could keep eating!

    I saw something similar being done with the bananas in Davao…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 12:16 pm

  18. Joseph Nicdao says:

    MM, Homebuddy and other readers: I happen to be a small mango farm owner. So far, since I purchase the farm 6 years ago, we never made money. Pesticides are the major costs; they are so expensive (you need at least 4 times spraying up to harvest). During the normal mango season (when fruits harvested are grown naturally without inducers) the buying price can go as low as P8 per kilo. The price goes up only during off season for fruits grown by induction (i.e. use of chemical flower inducers). Then, weather can play havoc. Last year the abnormal rain in January-February (the natural mango flowering season) wiped off almost all prospective harvests resulting into heavy losses to farmers in our area. This is not to discourage people interested in mango farming but just a reminder that mango farming is not that simple and profitable as it may appear. I’m sure there are mango farms that probably earn well, particularly those with good locations that don’t receive much rain or typhoon, and those that have mastered the organic method (non-use of chemical pesticides, part of which is the wrapping of fruits with paper jackets that MM described).

    Mar 12, 2008 | 1:30 pm

  19. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    being a cebuano as well, I too am biased to Cebu Mangoes and always make it my standard whenever I try mangoes from other areas.

    Yes, covering them with newspaper (i remember the old folks say that the ink also helps) keeps the skin smooth, thin and blemish free.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 1:39 pm

  20. Blaise says:

    I love mangoes!

    It’s alarming still that mangoes from Mexico are being labeled as Manila Mangoes.. I’ve heard that these mangoes are not as par as ours, and then why are they labeled as such?

    Mar 12, 2008 | 1:39 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    Blaise, the variety is the closest to the carabao mangoes we have. My sister says they are a poor alternative, but better than the other varieties more commonly available in the U.S. I think what kills them is that they are put in a hot water or steam bath to kill the bugs and thuse the skin tends to shrivel up when they get across the borders. This is a similar situation to “Manila clams” which are mostly raised in the clear waters off British Columbia and marketed across the U.S. as Manila clams. Frankly, considering the state of pollution of Manila Bay, I wouldn’t be going around labelling clams “Manila Clams”…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 2:22 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    Joseph Nicdao, THANK YOU for those insights from a farmer himself… yes, I understand the vagaries of any agricultural crop but mangoes do seem incredibly labor intensive and hard to get going… but my understanding is that for established farms with 20+ old trees, the profits can be quite attractive…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 2:25 pm

  23. cherub96 says:

    Wow, all my pinaglilihi-an at one reading!!! I am on my last month of pregnancy and I craved mangoes on and off thru the entire nine months. Being based in Negros, I get the best of both worlds — Guimaras and Cebu mangoes. I love baduya as well. We call it combo back home in Iloilo and we use AP flour in the batter so I will try the rice flour next time. Thanks MM for keeping me company thru my pregnancy. I was on bed rest half the time and reading food blogs made me feel that I am still connected to the rest of the world. I just hope that my baby was able to absorb all those cooking tips coz I would not mind if he turns out to be a chef someday :).

    Mar 12, 2008 | 4:45 pm

  24. Joseph Nicdao says:

    My pleasure, MM. Actually, we your readers can’t THANK YOU enough for your highly informative and educational blog. Your variety of topics is amazing. And my personal compliments for featuring rare fruits and vegetables from various regions from time to time. I do believe we should promote and plant more of our indigenous food plants as they are more suitable to our weather; hence, can be grown easily even in small backyards and help supplement families’ nutrition needs. Here’s all the best wishes for your continued good health (and stamina to keep your blog going…).

    Mar 12, 2008 | 6:16 pm

  25. cheryl says:

    Hi MM,

    This is done in davao mangoes too:) If one day you can visit davao and davao oriental go to the mango plantation and you will see how they have the same thing goin on…as far as I can remember, the people from that place been covering thier mangoes with papers or plastic with holes in it…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:29 pm

  26. Mandaragat says:

    MM, how about this:-

    Mango name incites spat

    Since the thriving galleon trade between New Spain and the Philippines first brought the seedlings of the Manila mango to Acapulco more than 200 years ago, Mexico has gradually made the fruit its own.
    It now wants to officially adopt the name, but the Philippine government is fighting custody.

    In the globalized 21st century, as both countries seek to expand exports of mangoes and other fresh produce to nations worldwide, Mexican growers have launched an effort to obtain a socalled geographical indication or domain of origin for the Manila mango, a type of patent that would restrict the use of the name Manila to mangoes grown in Mexico.

    A domain of origin certifies a product’s excellence, increasing its exports. It also protects its name from infringement by others in this case, growers in the Philippines, where mangoes are now produced under the name Manila Super Mango, or Carabao.

    The Manila mango does not pose much of a threat to the Philippines currently; it represents less than 1 percent of Mexico’s mango exports due to the variety’s fragility and a fruit-fly problem, the latter of which is also an obstacle to obtaining the domain of origin.

    “We are still a long way from obtaining the denomination,” said Jorge Mendoza, a member of the state committee for mango production in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where most Manila mangoes are cultivated.

    But Mexican mango growers do hope one day to achieve it. They would like to convert the small, pale-yellow Manila whose delicate skin and intensely juicy flesh makes it one of the nation’s favorite domestically consumed mangoes into an export success, including in markets targeted by the Philippines.

    In the meantime, Mexico already is gaining some mileage from the Manila name through other mangoes. In the United States, the name “Honey Manila” is often applied to the widely exported Ataulfo variety from southern Chiapas state, “because the Americans can’t pronounce ‘Ataulfo,’ ” said Blanca Nelly Partida, a representative of Mexico’s national mango export association, EMEX.

    The Filipinos don’t want to lose the right to use a name that originated in their country or to see Mexico profiting unfairly from it. They also have hinted that they might try to obtain the domain of origin for themselves.

    “Mexico acknowledges that their Manila mango variety came from the Philippines,” said Adrián S. Cristóbal, director-general of the Philippine Intellectual Property Office, or IPO. “By using the name Manila mango, the public can be misled as to the true origin of the fruit. … This is essentially unfair competition.”

    Cristóbal said government officials may resort to the international Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, which allows nations belonging to the World Trade Organization to stop other members from obtaining a domain of origin if it misleads consumers as to a product’s true origin.

    The way Mexico sees it, the Manila mango long ago became a product unique to this country.

    Although Manila seedlings arrived in Mexico from the Philippines in 1779 during the galleon trade, the variety was crossed with other mangoes over the years, so today’s Manila mangoes possess a genetic mix found only in Mexico, said Héctor Cabrera, an expert with the National Institute of Forest, Agricultural and Livestock research.

    “It shouldn’t be confused with the original Carabao,” he said.

    Mexico, the world’s largest mango exporter, shipped more than US130 million in mangoes in 2004, the majority to the United States, with smaller markets in Canada, Japan and European countries, respectively, the Economy Department reported.

    The Philippines shipped US31 million to its four top markets in 2004: Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and China, according to the country’s trade department. Both countries are looking to expand their mango export markets, raising the level of competition between them.

    Seeking domains of origin is an extremely strong trend in today’s cutthroat global economy, where companies are fighting to keep a competitive edge and not leave themselves unprotected, said Mexico agricultural economist Yolanda Trapaga.

    But the Manila mango case is uncommon and could have an impact on other products in the future because it redefines the label’s traditional concept of origin, Trapaga said.

    While the designation usually is based on a product and where its from such as the town of Tequila, Mexico, or the province of Champagne, France the Manila mango’s domain would refer not so much to the fruit itself as to the hybridization and cultivation practices in Mexico that supposedly make the variety unique.

    All countries seeking the domain of origin must comply with WTO rules. But because the WTO does not currently recognize, or regulate, the domain of origin, most countries seeking the designation work out mutually acceptable agreements with their trading partners, Trapaga said. Mexico’s next step, therefore is “to start hashing this out with the Philippines,” she said. “There has to be a bilateral negotiation, to see where it goes.”

    Mar 12, 2008 | 7:45 pm

  27. Marketman says:

    mandaragat, very interesting… I am curious what the original source of the article was, a newswire or on-line paper? I think the Philippines should definitely try to get the name…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 9:36 pm

  28. lee ann says:

    we have around 20 mango trees in our farm. they were planted when i was young.
    we don’t really generate profit from it. we eat some, sell some, and share some.

    i hope the weather normalizes soon so the flowers don’t get rained away. i’m so excited to eat mangoes! :D

    Mar 12, 2008 | 10:49 pm

  29. melvin says:

    I remember asking my grandfather (God bless him!) why he never grew mangoes in his farm in Carcar, Cebu. He told me that the primary problem is the fruit fly (and the expense one would have to shell out just to control them). I am told that Guimaras does not have this problem and the LGU has in fact established some kind of quarantine to prevent fruit flies from invading their island.

    Mar 13, 2008 | 1:38 am

  30. Ejit says:

    2 more days and 36 hours flight including transit time in 4 airports I’ll be home in Manila and I can’t wait to have fresh mangoes. I have seen mango plantations but I havent seen them cover it up with those paper jackets. I’m curious on how they manage to cover each fruit.

    Mar 13, 2008 | 2:26 am

  31. eej says:

    Mexico may have laid claim to the name “Manila Mangoes” BUT the taste is definitely sub par from the original.

    Mar 13, 2008 | 5:02 am

  32. Mandaragat says:

    Mar 13, 2008 | 5:00 pm

  33. WO says:

    How long does it take for a new mango tree to first bear fruits? Is it easy to grow? Wow! Php 1,000,000 per hectare? How many mango trees can you plant in a hectare of land?

    Mar 14, 2008 | 1:04 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    WO, roughly 10-12 years before you get fruit, unless you use the newer hybrids that are smaller and have less yield earlier, I think. Roughly 40 trees per hectare, flat land. A lot of tending required, fertilizing, mulching beneath tree, smoking to get it to flower, etc. Then there is all the work done to get nice quality mangoes. And it doesn’t just grow anywhere, it likes a specific type of soil… hence Cebu, Guimaras, etc. being known for top quality mangoes… It isn’t a homerun business by any measure. And any investment you make in land and trees and staff won’t have a payoff until much later…

    Mar 14, 2008 | 2:32 pm

  35. Hiro says:

    hi marketman, if u happen to be in Palawan, try their mangoes their.. for me, better than any place in the country. They dont even export it out of theri island…

    Mar 17, 2008 | 10:29 am

  36. Marketman says:

    Hiro, I have tried mangoes from palawan (been there 5 times, in fact… but sorry, cebu mangoes are better. :) Then again, I did plainly state I am biased.

    Mar 17, 2008 | 2:41 pm

  37. WO says:

    Thanks, Mr. Marketman! Very interesting and informative! I really enjoy your blogs!

    Mar 18, 2008 | 11:20 am

  38. millet says:

    MM, just a ot of trivia: in the 80s, I was told by some Cebu mango planters that they prefeered to use old newspapers from Clark and Subic for wrapping the mangoes in, since , presumably, the ink in the American papers contained had some kind of insecticide.

    Mar 18, 2008 | 5:15 pm

  39. Glecy says:

    I have seen this done in Japan with their grapes. It was featured in Martha Stewart TV program. I am so glad that we take pride in our produce.If we continue to provide top notch products we as a country will attact purveyors from all over the world which means money for our farmers .

    Apr 6, 2008 | 11:40 pm

  40. antanet says:

    41% of Phil Mango production is from Pangasinan, thus pangasinan is biggest mango producer. how come not much comment abt it?

    Jun 21, 2009 | 4:22 pm


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