Zambales to host national mango congress

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    IBA, Zambales – Zambales, known for producing some of the world’s sweetest mangoes, marks another milestone this week when it plays host to the 15th National Mango Congress, an annual convention of stakeholders in the country’s mango industry.

    Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said this was the first time that the mango congress would be held in Zambales, which hopes to be a major player in the regional mango trade.

    The congress will be held on March 20-22 at the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University convention center here. At the same time, the 13th Zambales Mango Festival will be held until Sunday, March 24, at the Zambales Sports Complex, also in this town.

    Ebdane said the congress is an important step to revitalize the local mango industry and realize its full potential.

    “Mango production is undoubtedly a major industry in Zambales and, in fact, our produce is now known worldwide as one of the sweetest and most delicious. Yet we have lagged somewhat in terms of production and marketing in the previous decades,” Ebdane said.

    “We hope to change that and put Zambales on top of the industry under this administration,” he added.

    Evelyn Grace, president of the Zambales Mango Growers Association, meanwhile expressed pride that Zambales got the chance to host an event that has eluded the province for quite some time.

    “We have tried to bid twice to host the Mango Congress under the previous governors, but lack of facilities and financial support bogged us down,” Grace explained.

    She added that the this year’s congress is very significant to mango producers in the country because it will focus on various means to increase mango farming income by stabilizing domestic prices through mango tourism and by synchronized mango production and efficient handling system.

    The congress will also highlight topics on disease control, use of appropriate and safe pesticides, and the campaign towards organic mango production.

    Grace also said that experts will be on hand to speak on pest control and technology to make mangoes more resistant to diseases like the locally-known “batiktik”. Speakers will also discuss policy proposals on how to protect the industry in relation to international trade; on how to market mangoes, from handling and packaging to promotion and selling; and how to better care for orchards through proper nutrition and pruning.Meanwhile, Zambales tourism officer Domitela Mora announced that prominent government officials and Philippine beauty queens will grace the National Mango Congress and the 13th Zambales Mango Festival which will kick off on Wednesday at the Zambales Sports Complex in Iba.

    The guests include Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who will be the guest speaker at the congress;  Sen. Edgardo Angara, who will be crowning the Ms. Zambales Senior Citizen; and Bb. PIlipinas titlists Shamcey Supsup, Venus Raj and Janine Tugonon, who will be gracing the opening program and parade.

    Mora also said that this year’s mango festival will be more impressive, as organizers have levelled up the events, exhibits and entertainment program.

    “Our governor, Gov. Ebdane, has been all-out in his support of the festival, especially since we are hosting the national mango congress, so this event will be radically different to what we have had in the previous years,” Mora said.

    She said the festival events include “Parayawan,” a dress-up-your-town-hall competition among the 13 municipalities in the province; “Pinaka-LGU Booth Showcase,” which features the best products from each town in Zambales; beauty pageants like the Binibining Zambales and the Ms. Zambales  Senior Citizen; as well as various contests in mango food preparation,  mango wine mixing and bartending, and mango carving.

    There will also be competitions in street dancing, float and parade, sand sculpting, drum and lyre, and various entertainment shows featuring showbiz stars and talents like Gerald Anderson, Daniel Padilla, Bangs Garcia, Paolo Ballesteros, Luan Dy, Myrtle Sarrosa, and Gabby Concepcion.

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