Why Filipino Mango Is Best: #1 Easy Guide With Vocabulary

Filipino mango - A bountiful pile of ripe, golden Filipino mangoes showcasing their vibrant color and enticing texture.

As a certified Pinoy who’s crazy about mangoes, let me tell you—when someone says “mango,” the first thing that pops into my head is the Philippines! Sure, other countries have their own mango game, but trust me, they can’t hold a candle to a Filipino mango.

I’ve tried all the imported varieties from Asia and a few from the US, and they just don’t hit the spot like our very own Filipino mango. Even the so-called “Ataulfo mango” doesn’t quite cut it! So, what’s the secret behind Philippine mangoes’ mind-blowing deliciousness? Hear me out now.

What Is A Filipino Mango?

The Filipino mango (a.k.a. Carabao mango or Manila mango) is the national fruit of the Philippines and is named after the carabao or kalabaw in Tagalog, our national animal—a native Filipino breed of domesticated water buffalo.

Filipino mangoes are pretty sizeable, typically measuring about 12.5 cm (that’s 5 in) in length and 8.5 cm (3 1⁄4 in) in diameter. They’ve got this kidney shape that can range from short to elongated, and when they’re ripe and ready to devour, they turn a vibrant, eye-catching yellow.

But the real magic happens when you slice one open. The flesh is this rich, golden-yellow color that’s just begging to be eaten. It’s got a tender, melting consistency that practically dissolves in your mouth. What is the taste? Insanely sweet and aromatic!

Here’s a fun tidbit: Carabao or Filipino mangoes, like other Southeast Asian-type mangoes, are polyembryonic. That means they’ve got multiple embryos in their seeds, which is different from Indian-type mangoes. Interesting right?

How Do You Say Mango In Tagalog?

In Tagalog, mango is called mangga pronounced as “mang-gah” with a slight emphasis on the second syllable. The “ng” sound is similar to the ‘ng’ in the English word “sing,” and the “a” sounds are like the short ‘a’ in the English word “father.” There’s no formal or informal variation of the word—mangga is the standard way to say mango in Tagalog.

What Are The Different Types Of Carabao Mangoes?

When I say Carabao mango, I’m not just talking about one type. The Filipino mango has a whole family tree with 14 different strains. Some of the most famous ones include:

  • Talaban and Fresco from Guimaras: These strains are famous for their mind-blowingly sweet taste. The province Guimaras in Iloilo is famous for its Carabao mangoes, and for good reason—they’re consistently ranked as some of the best in the country.

  • MMSU Gold from the Ilocos Region: This strain’s got a gorgeous golden hue that’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost. It’s named after the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), which developed this particular strain.

  • Lamao and Sweet Elena from Zambales: In the 1995 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, the Sweet Elena strain from Zambales was listed as the sweetest mango variety in the world. There’s even a study from the Bureau of Agricultural Research in 2003 that backs that up!

Did you think that was wild? Get a load of this: a couple (Sergio and Maria Socorro Bodiongan) from Iligan City in Mindanao holds the world record for growing the biggest mango ever—a jaw-dropping 3.5 kilos! That’s like giving birth to a mango baby, minus the diapers!

A colorful assortment of Filipino mangoes, some ripe with golden yellow skin and others still green and unripe.

What Kinds Of Mangoes Can You Find In The Philippines?

Another thing I love about our mangoes is how versatile they are. We, the Filipino people, don’t discriminate—whether they’re green or ripe, we’ll gobble ’em up! Let’s look closer at the different types of mangoes you can find in the Philippines besides Carabao mangoes.

Pico/Piko Or Padero Mango

First up, we’ve got Pico mangoes, also known as Piko or Padero mangoes. These fruits are flatter and paler than Carabao mangoes, with a light yellow or orange hue. They’re the ultimate multitaskers—perfect for making pickles or best enjoyed green with salt or bagoong (shrimp paste). Their slightly fibrous flesh adds an interesting twist to the mango experience.

Katchamita Or Indian Mango

Next, say hello to Katchamita mangoes, a.k.a. Indian mangoes. These little guys are smaller and rounder than Carabao and Pico mangoes, and they pack a serious flavor punch. Love sour? Go for green, unripe Katchamita mangoes, which, for me, are better with bagoong than Pico. Got a sweet tooth? Wait for them to ripen and turn yellow for a slightly sweet treat.

Pahutan/Paho Mango

Pahutan or Paho mangoes are usually wild-harvested, giving them a rugged, untamed lasa or flavor in Tagalog. They’re smaller and more fibrous than Carabao or Pico mangoes, with a distinct taste and smell that’s perfect for cooking or pickling. The catch? They can be harder to find in markets and are very expensive ($1 or ₱10 for 5 pieces in Calapan City), so grab ’em when you see ’em!

Other Mango Varieties

The Philippines is full of lesser-known varieties just waiting to be discovered. Take the horse mango, for example—this jumbo-sized mango is native to Southeast Asia and is like the gentle giant of the mango family.

Or how about the apple mango? This cutie’s got a reddish hue on top that makes it look like it’s blushing, and it’s got a mildly sweet taste that’s like a cross between an apple and a mango (hence the name, duh!). These unique varieties may not be as well-known as their Carabao or Pico cousins, but they’re definitely worth seeking out if you’re a true mango aficionado.

Cluster of unripe green Filipino mangoes hanging from a lush mango tree.

When Is The Best Time To Experience Philippine Mangoes?

If you’re planning to travel the Philippines and want to experience the best mangoes ever, you’ve gotta come during peak Carabao mango season! That’s typically from late May to early July, so mark your calendars!

But come on—there’s never a bad time to enjoy Philippine mangoes! We Filipinos love ’em all year round, whether they’re ripe and juicy or green and mouth-puckeringly sour. Speaking of green mangoes…

What Are Green Mangoes In The Philippines?

Filipinos call green mangoes hilaw na mangga or manggang hilaw (hilaw means unripe) or “unripe mangoes” in English. When Carabao mangoes are unripe or underripe, they’re incredibly sour—pucker-your-face-and-make-you-squint sour. But that’s what makes them so darn addictive!

As I’ve said, in the Philippines, we love eating green mangoes with all sorts of condiments, like shrimp paste, salt, vinegar, or soy sauce, and sometimes with wild chilis or siling labuyo in Tagalog. Some even pickle green mangoes, like my wife, and turn them into burong mangga (pickled mangoes). Try it yourself! For me? Nope.

Mango in Philippines - Colorful dancers in vibrant costumes perform at the Dinamulag Festival

What Are The Mango Festivals In The Philippines?

The Philippines takes its mangoes seriously! We’ve got not one but two major mango festivals in the Philippines that celebrate these glorious fruits.

Dinamulag Festival

First is the Dinamulag Festival or the Zambales Mango Festival. This annual shindig has been rocking since 1999 in the province of Zambales. During the festival, you can expect a whole bunch of exciting stuff like:

  • Grand parades
  • Street dance showdowns
  • Float contests
  • Cultural dance-offs
  • Sports events
  • Bikini contests
  • Sand sculpting contests
  • Pet shows
  • Fireworks displays

And don’t even think about missing the Binibining Zambales beauty pageant and the LGU showcase and trade fair in People’s Park! You can stuff your face with all kinds of mango goodies here.

Manggahan Festival

Over in the island province of Guimaras, there’s the Manggahan Festival, also known as the Guimaras Mango Festival. This yearly party happens every May to celebrate mangoes, agriculture, and tourism, which keeps the local economy strong. Here are some of the Manggahan Festival’s highlights: 

  • Agri-trade fair
  • Anniversary parade (complete with a Thanksgiving mass and street dancing)
  • Mango eat-all-you-can bonanza
  • Mutya ng Guimaras and Mr. Guimaras beauty pageants 

The Manggahan Festival is a big deal! Why? Because it’s also the founding anniversary of Guimaras province. It’s like a double whammy of celebrations!

How Is The Philippine Mango Industry Doing?

You better believe the Philippine mango industry is thriving! Mangoes are a huge deal in our agriculture scene, right up there with bananas, calamansi, pineapples, and other Filipino fruits.

Our country’s topical climate is like the Goldilocks of mango growing—it’s just right! We’ve got the perfect combo of cool, dry seasons and scorching heat (oof, too much in 2024!) during flowering and fruiting stages.

Sure, the Philippines mango industry is not without its challenges. We’ve got small-scale farmers still stuck in the old ways, pesky pests that won’t quit, crazy Philippines weather (hi climate change!), and post-harvest issues like not-so-great packaging and shipping.

But don’t worry, our government’s on it! They’ve whipped up a solid plan to boost mango production in the coming years:

  • Pruned and fertilized 8.9 million mango trees back in 2017 to 2022 to bump up the yield (they’ve even set aside ₱600 per tree!)

  • Testing out new farming tech in mango hotspots like Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu, and Guimaras

  • Streamlining the export process (top importers: Singapore, Japan, Hongkong, Canada and the US)

  • Getting farms certified with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

  • Promoting mangoes and all the yummy stuff you can make with them

So while we may not be the biggest mango exporter out there, we’re all about quality over quantity. And with peak harvest season from March to June, now’s the perfect time to get your mango fix here in the Philippines!

Filipino farmer proudly displaying a bunch of green mangoes.

How Have Philippine Mangoes Made Their Mark On The World?

Quick history lesson—Did you know that the Mexican Ataulfo and Manilita mango varieties are actually descendants of our very own Philippine mango? Yep, they hitched a ride on the Manila galleon trade between 1600 and 1800 and ended up in Mexico. That’s why they’re sometimes called “Manila mangoes” in the trading business.

And get this: during the American colonial period in the Philippines, the Carabao mango was known as the “champagne mango.” Fancy, huh? That name’s now used in North American markets for the Ataulfo mango variety, which is pretty much the Filipino mango’s cousin. They also go by “honey mangoes” ’cause they’re just that sweet!

It’s wild to think about how much our mangoes have influenced the world. And it’s not just the Philippines fruit itself—mango byproducts are also having a moment. From pinatuyong mangga or dried mangoes to mango-flavored desserts and dishes, there are so many ways to satisfy your mango cravings these days!

Useful Phrases To Enjoy Mangoes In The Philippines

Now, if you really want to fully immerse yourself in the Philippine mango experience, you’ve gotta learn some key phrases in Tagalog. Here are some that’ll help you:

EnglishTagalogSound
I want a mango.Gusto ko ng mangga.
What kind of mango is this?Anong klaseng mangga ito?
Which mango is the sweetest?Aling mangga ang pinakatamis?
How much is this mango?Magkano ang mangga na ito?
Can I try a sample?Puwede po bang matikman?
I’d like to buy 1 kilo of mangoes.Gusto kong bumili ng isang kilong mangga.
Is this mango ripe?Hinog na ba itong mangga?
Where did this mango come from?Saan galing ang manggang ito?
These mangoes are delicious!Ang sarap ng mga manggang ito!
Where can I buy mangoes?Saan ako makakabili ng mangga?

I promise—these phrases are worth learning. But this is just the beginning! You should learn and know more about the Tagalog language to help you break through language barriers and make your time in the Philippines even more unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions On Filipino Mangoes

What Is The Mango Capital Of The Philippines?

Guimaras Island holds the title of “Mango Capital of the Philippines.” The island is famous for its incredibly sweet mangoes, and it’s responsible for supplying about half of the country’s mango exports.

How Much Is Mango In The Philippines?

Mango prices in the Philippines can fluctuate depending on the season and where you buy them. In cities like Manila and Quezon City, expect to pay between PHP 197 and PHP 462 per kilogram (roughly PHP 89 to PHP 209 per pound).

Why Is Philippine Mango The Best?

Philippine mangoes are a flavor explosion, boasting a perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness with touches of tropical fruits like peach and pineapple. They’re also incredibly juicy and have a smooth texture that practically melts in your mouth.

Final Thoughts

Every morning, I’d gather the dry mango leaves and set them on fire in our backyard. The smoke was supposed to help the trees bear more fruit, and let me tell you, it was worth the effort!

There’s just something special about Philippine mangoes that hits me right in the feels. Whether it’s the sweet, juicy flesh of a ripe Carabao or the mouth-puckering sourness of a green Pico, these fruits taste like home to me. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

If you wanna share this love for our mangoes, learning a few key Tagalog words and phrases goes a long way. Apps like the Ling app make it easy and fun to get started!

So, the next time someone asks you what comes to mind when you hear “mango,” you better say, “The Philippines! Filipino mango!” loud and proud! When it comes to mangoes, we know what’s up.

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