THE Philippines is known around the world for its "Manila Super Mango" because of its taste that until now is "still unmatched."

Former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Q. Montemayor said the variety has found its way in the Guinness Book of World Records as the sweetest of its kind in the world.

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But how true is this claim? You better ask Ted Hopkins, an American expatriate who was once assigned in the country.

When inquired what he would miss about the Philippines before leaving, he answered mangoes.

"There's nothing quite like it in the world," he explained. "It’s sweet, juicy taste is so addictive, it's the first thing I'd surely like to have when I come back."

He further said, "Fresh mangoes from other countries are definitely cheaper compared to the Philippine mango, especially those coming from Mexico, but why I would I settle for the second best? When it comes to mangoes, it should be only those coming from the Philippines."

Here's more: "Philippine mango has three times the vitamin C of a single orange or apple and important minerals essential to prevent cancer and other diseases," hails Dr. Martin Hirte, a German health food researcher and pediatrician.

The German physician also found that mango contains minerals that are vital for pregnant mothers and stressed-out people.

"The calcium and magnesium of mango relaxes the muscles, relieves stress and prevents miscarriage," Dr. Hirte wrote in his research paper entitled, 'The Benefits of Mango for Human Health.'

For sure, the Philippine mango is one of the country's sources of pride. It is known for "its striking yellow peel and flesh, ambrosial scent, and most importantly, its distinctly sweet yet slightly tart flavor," to quote the words of Trina Leah Mendoza, of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Ripe mangoes are eaten fresh as a dessert; or processed into dried mangoes, puree, juice, concentrate, shakes, and many more. When eaten green, they are a tasty treat for lovers of sour fruits as they are usually dipped in salt, fermented fish or shrimp ("bagoong"). Green mangoes are also pressed into juice and shakes.

Mango is also used to make juices, both in ripe and unripe form. Pieces of fruit can be mashed and used in ice cream or blended with milk and ice to make thick milkshakes. In Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavored with coconut then served with sliced mango on top as a dessert.

The Philippines is sixth in world mango production, contributing four percent to world supply.

Data from the agriculture department showed that mango ranks third as the most important fruit in the country in terms of volume of production and area after banana and pineapple.

Although the Philippines is a major mango exporting country, its average annual production of 1.4 million metric tons still lags behind India (10.8 million metric tons), China (3.62 million metric tons), Thailand (1.72 million metric tons), and Pakistan (1.7 million metric tons).

Neighboring Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore have long been importing the Philippines' fresh mangoes, while other major markets are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia. Recently, the Philippines has been exporting fresh mangoes from Guimaras to the United States.

Ninety-percent of the country's exports are fresh mangoes; the remaining 10 percent are in processed form like dried mangoes. "The dried mango fruit from the Philippines was the best I had ever tasted," observed Dr. Hirte.

Most mango exports come from Guimaras Island. Unknown to many Filipinos, however, the province is not among the country's top mango producers.

The top producers are Pangasinan (29 percent), Isabela (14 percent), Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, and Nueva Vizcaya (4 percent each), Bulacan, Iloilo, and South Cotabato (3 percent each), and Cebu (2 percent).

Mango growers are being classified into three: backyard growers, commercial growers and corporate farms. The agriculture department said more than half of the mango supply comes from backyard growers (those who own five to 20 fruit-bearing trees).

This is followed by commercials growers, entrepreneurs who are mostly based in urban areas, covering roughly 40 percent of the mango supply, and corporate farms that have integrated production and processing operations or export their produce to foreign markets through their exclusive marketing arms.

Now, you have various reasons why you should plant, if not eat, mangoes!