Regular readers of Philippines Plus know that I’ve written about Guimaras’ annual mango festival numerous times. I’ve attended six of these events and this year was no exception. Here’s “The Kano’s” Grade for Manggahan 2015: C+.
Why a “C+” and not a higher mark? In years past I would have easily given “A’s” to some past shindigs, especially Manggahan 2012 where “Fearless Frank from Florida,” high school chum of my friend, “The Tom Cat,” see lead photo, and I partied all night and into the morning. Let’s just say Tanduay Rhum and mango shakes figured into the equation.
The Ever Suave Tom Cat, recalling fond memories at the Western Union Office in Guimaras
My disappointment with Manggahan began last year when it was determined by the new governor that our island province would be best served by having Manggahan-related competitions spread thoughout the island. In my opinion, and others, this diluted the main event, the actual Manggahan Festival which has been held in San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras for years.
The “crowds” at last year’s mango mash were significantly lower and I have received reports that some eateries at the festival lost business when compared to previous events. I feel that the dilution of the festival was primarily responsible for this reduced patronage and monetary loss for the businesses.
In the past several years the festival has been held in April, around Holy Week. The Official Manggahan Festival in San Miguel, Jordan, which ran from May 11-May 22, ended on Foundation Day. Guimaras, formerly a sub-province of Iloilo, successfully acquired self-governance status on May 22, 1992.
I believe combing Foundation Day into the official festival in San Miguel was a good idea. It doesn’t matter much, weather-wise, whether the event is held in April or May. Both months are extremely hot and humid but the celebrated mangoes are in season and are sweetest during the summer months of March to May.
For a second year in a row the Manggahan Festival did NOT feature the swimwear competition for the annual beauty contest, Mutya Ng Guimaras, Pearl of Guimaras. Yes, faithful reader, I am disappointed to announce that the pretty pinays parading in swimsuits were at Buenavista, Guimaras, and not at San Miguel, Jordan, the true home of the Official Manggahan Festival.
Frankly, I don’t get it. I can’t understand why the Swimwear, Casual Wear, Festival Costumes and Talent Competitions were staged at different municipalities on our mango island province. Again, in years past, all of these events were held at the Official Manggahan Festival in San Miguel, Jordan.
Sure, I could have driven our Ford Ranger over to Buenavista but I didn’t. It was a matter of principle to me. In fact, I did not attend the beauty contest at all this year. The gymnasium is always hotter than the Gates of Hell. It was easier for me to check out the Filipina beauties on their Facebook page (see following photograph from FB.)
(Photo Credit: GiggleNSmile Photo Events )
So, in my humble opinion, what could be done to improve the Manggahan Festival and improve The Kano’s grade for next year?
- Eliminate all Manggahan-related events that are held prior to the main show in San Miguel, Jordan. Every municipality and barangay has their own fiesta. Don’t continue to dilute the major focus for the mango festival which has always been in San Miguel. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
- More diversity in the Food Court. While there are some good eateries at Manggahan, such as Lisa’s Talabahan and Grill, many of the vendors, aside from the half-cooked, tasteless pizza offered at PitStop, offer the same grilled food and Filipino dishes. I would love to see more food choices that could appeal to more foreigners and draw more expats in.
- Start the scheduled events on time. I know. This is virtually impossible in the Philippines due to the “Filipino Time” mindset. But I attended the last day of the festival with my asawa and other relatives in order to view the Fireworks Competition which was to begin at 9:00 pm. The fireworks started two hours later and our little niece and nephew had already fallen asleep.
- How about a Beer Tent? Sure, all of the eateries sell Red Horse and San Miguel Pale Pilsen, but what about a place with misting fans where folks could drink a cold beer and cool off? Just saying.
- Have more events like the Motocross which was held in San Miguel’s Sports Complex and not on the main highways of Guimaras, such as the Manggahan Bike Fest.
OK, more Comfort Rooms would be helpful, too. There are no portable toilets on site and to my knowledge, only one main restroom situated near the event. Of course, if any local guys need to pee, they don’t bother to use a CR anyway to rid themselves of their excess Red Horse, but additional restroom facilities would be welcome.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still love Manggahan, but I would love to see some changes made for next year. Again, my biggest beef are the events held outside of the main San Miguel, Jordan, location. I understand that having some of the events outside of the main Festival spreads the celebration across the whole of Guimaras, but seriously, our island province isn’t that big. It’s not that difficult to reach San Miguel, the capital, anywhere on the island.
But I plan to attend next year’s homage to the mango, and invite anyone in the area to attend. It’s certainly worth a short pump boat ride from nearby Panay Island and other locations throughout the Philippines. And maybe next year, I’m hopeful that I could give the event a higher grade.