Mango Tango

Published December 9, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

BELOW THE LINE

By AMBASSADOR JOSE ABETO ZAIDE

Ambassador  José Abeto  Zaide
Ambassador José Abeto Zaide

It hurts only when I laugh.

Or, you can laugh until you cry at how we see a problem in an opportunity.

I found from old clippings of major Philippine dailies a report dated Saturday, 21 May 2005, that DTI Secretary Juan Santos ordered our commercial attachés abroad to investigate the use by Mexico of the brand name “Manila Mango.”

A summary reading of the report suggests that the Philippines should assert proprietary rights to brand.

I wasn’t sure if this was do-able.

Can one copyright Manila folder? Manila hemp? Mantones de Manila?

The $64 million question as we salivate for a larger slice of the $70-million mango export market is: Who introduced
the name ‘Manila Mangos’?

There is no intellectual property right to the mango fruit.

The word “manga” derives from Sanskrit. The mango seed was probably a stowaway on the Manila-Acapulco galleon.
This is the same route that our Barong Tagalog took to influence the guayabera; and in the crosscurrents, how Mexico in turn brought in our direction the chico, camote, guavas, guayabano and other fruits.

When the mango seed grew to a tree, Mexicans called the fruit Mangas de Manila in tribute to their origin.

There may be other mango varieties, but Mexicans reserved the cachet “Manila” for the best variety. (Just like we call a certain sour pomegranate of the giant variety “Bangkok Santol.”)

Farther down the road, Mexican entrepreneurs found that the fruits are saleable not only in Mexico, but also across the Rio Grande as Manila Mangoes.

And they established a thriving business, penetrating the American delicatessen, and eventually the supermarkets.
The fact is that Philippine mangoes grown in Philippine soil are a far cry from the Mexican “Manila Mangoes.” The Philippine soil must be so providentially blessed to grow mangoes in a way that no other foreign soil can seem to replicate.

(Mercifully, the Thais who have developed superior varieties of the santol, guava and even the IRRI rice, cannot seem to develop a variety as good as our Philippine mangos).

Moreover, our mangoes do not grow best in Manila, but in select provinces. Cebu is the first to raise the fruit to all-year-round harvest. Zambales is another excellent source, and it may hopefully find fertilizing qualities in Mt. Pinatubo lahar. Guimaras raises a special delectable variety, and it is the only certified fruit fly-free zone meeting US FDA standards.

Our trade promotion abroad ought to rely more on entrepreneurs than on lawyers.

We should not scold the Mexicans for opening the market. We owe them a vote of thanks for promoting and advertising “Manila Mangoes.” They can educate the gringo palate to mangoes. When Americans are hooked to the fruit, we can come in with Philippine Mangoes exported from Manila.

Mexicans have opened the doors that we can walk through. Why quarrel with that?

* * *

From the sublime to the more serious business of getting from one point to the other. Because every administration
has postponed taking definitive action on what to do about our metropolitan transit system, our waking hours are spent getting from one point to the other.

The neglect of our public utility mass transit system has been a boon to the sale of motor cars, (with the added bonus fillip of requiring every registered motor vehicle off the road on one working day of the week). For the class C and D motorists, they have the alternative option of motorcycles which have also registered exponential sales.

A government sensible to the needs of its citizens does not continue to default on its obligation to provide safe and affordable transport. There have been blueprints of yesteryears for a metropolitan subway line; and there is the more proximately doable system of BRT transport line. But these both remain devoutly to be wished by our harried Manila commuters.

You may add them on your Christmas wish list – doable, hopefully, in the more foreseeable future.

* * *

On the bright side, Host Philippines continues to roll in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, five days into the competition. Obstacle course racing, weightlifting and shooting delivered gold medals for the host country with silver and bronze medals coming in from lawn bowls, obstacle course racing, gymnastics and muay thai, push the country’s total medal to 84 gold, 64 silver, 65 bronze – a wide lead ahead of closest rival Indonesia. Our athletes do us proud and do not allow parochial intramurals to distract from the object of the Games.

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