Mike knows that mangoes tame my inner monsters, so since the onset of summer he’s been buying me kilos of yellow mangoes that exude that familiar smell of ripeness.
One second, I could be a complete worrywart, the next minute, I am Zenlike, eating bite after bite of mangoes divine. On Sundays outside the streets of stinky Manila, all he would say is “mangga?” and I would smile sheepishly and nod, and he would walk to the nearest cariton of those sweet smelling summer fruit, choose the fat ones, and show me the plastic bag full of happiness.
He once stared at me, looking at the way I ate mangoes – I don’t chew them, he thought out loud. I chuckled, eating some more.
It’s not only Mike who supports my addiction. My mother climbed a tree (which, I just learned, my father planted at an emptied lot), picked and plucked more than a dozen, and brought me bags of green indian mangoes, the shape and size of a human heart.
The fruit is a national favorite. Our memories of summer would always have that one time we were climbing mango trees, or eating indian mangoes with salt or bagoong or alamang or sukang iloko.
When I was in Singapore, I witnessed how Filipinos go crazy over indian mangoes – pasalubong from the Philippines – and munch on them in no time. Even I myself missed it a lot when I was abroad, so I had to settle for mangoes from Thailand or Vietnam, but I found them less sweet than ours. I wondered why.
You know the best mangoes I’ve tasted so far were from the Visayas. Holy tropical miracles, those mangoes from Cebu and Bohol are so juicy and packed, they’re like the fuji apple of mangoes (if that makes sense).
If at this point, you still aren’t craving for mangoes, let me tell you their health and beauty benefits.
Mangoes may help prevent cancer, help lower cholesterol, promote eye health, help normalize insulin levels, help improve digestion, and boost immune system, and that’s because these fruits can supply us our needed vitamin C (very good for the skin), vitamin A (good for your eyes), and daily fiber (good for your diet).
Most important of all, you help mango farmers all over the Philippines earn their living whenever you eat mangoes. I know the Philippines is already big in exporting mangoes to countries all over the world (you can check out the Philippine mango ad at the MRT Edsa station), but we can support the local mango industry more by buying those ripe mangoes from Pangasinan or Zambales.
I say this with a heart for mango ‘farmers’ because my father once planted hundreds of mango trees in Mindoro when I was younger, in a time when all I had to worry about was how to finish eating all those baskets of harvested mangoes.
Planting mangoes (the carabao variety in particular) and taking them to the market is not easy.
My father said the soil has to be well-fertilized, with moderate irrigation, and void of weeds which could suck out the macro and micronutrients of the soil. Pests can destroy the trees while they’re growing so years of care have to be dedicated to it. And come harvest time, perfect ripening has techniques.
Maybe that’s why I eat my mangoes with such relish – because I am aware how so much love and care can go into producing the golden ripe tropical goodness that is the mango.