Mango Festival is home to some of the sweetest, juiciest most succulent mangos you will ever see in the Philippines. The festival is held in Iba, Zambales.
Zambales, for the most part, is popular for its glistening sandy beaches and idyllic islands, but you will be excited to learn that this is home to some of the best mangoes. So sweet are these mangoes in fact that in 1995, the Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged the Zambales mangoes to be the sweetest globally. This is no mean feat for any tourist destination.
In this context, it is easy to understand why the organizers saw the need to come up with a festival to celebrate all the mango goodness (and attract tourists while at it). The yearly event is held in April, and brings together locals and foreigners alike to savor and promote the island’s best mangoes.
Since a large part of the city’s economy relies on the export of mangoes, it’s no surprise that there’s an entire festival dedicated to the fruit. The main point of the Mango Festival is the celebration of the bountiful harvest, similarly to the Tuna Festival of GenSan.
One of the highlights of the Mango Festival is the mango eating challenge where participants compete to see who can eat the most mangos within a predetermined period of time. And of course, it would not be a proper Filipino festival without a street parade featuring locals in colorful, mango-inspired costumes! Hundreds of them flock to the streets, swaying to the sounds of music in all sorts of regalia, making the joy palpable in the air.
Other popular highlights that you should look forward to include the Trade Fair, the Variety Show as well as the mango-themed street parades. There’s also a street dancing competition, which is a staple event in pretty much any festival held in this country. And, just like with all the other Filipino festivals, there’s an extravagant float parade featuring floats inspired by the delicious fruit.
A beauty pageant is also an important part of the festival, but it’s not a traditional Filipino pageant. It’s Mr. & Ms. Body Beautiful, where young people compete for the title of the hottest. Definitely a treat for the eyes, but be warned that it might cause some self-esteem issues!
The Dinamulag Festival lasts for at least 4-5 days, and there’s a plethora of different events to enjoy. Sports competitions are particularly popular in the Philippines, so it’s no surprise that a Fun Run is part of this festival. You can also play some beach volleyball, partake in a sand sculpting competition or the cookfest. And if you’d prefer to stay on the sidelines and observe, definitely attend the pet show and the car show!
As is the case with plenty of festivals in the Philippines, its last day is marked by a coronation ceremony, where the winners of all the previous competitions are announced. After that, the festival is closed off with a spectacular fireworks display, which you definitely don’t want to miss if you’re lucky enough to actually attend this festival.
The Mango Festival is an excellent opportunity to treat yourself to the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines. Simply make a point to slot the Mango Festival into your travel plans whenever you are in Zambales in the month of April.
You can’t get a direct flight to Iba, so you will need to put in a little more effort in order to enjoy the wonderful Mango festival. The closest airport to the city is Clark International Airport, and you can get a flight there from both Cebu City and Manila.
From Clark International Airport, it takes 3-5 hours to get to Iba, depending on how you choose to travel. If you rent a car, it takes a little over three hours to get to the city. You can also take a bus, which takes between four and five hours to get to Iba.
If you opt for the latter, you can catch a bus from the airport to Olongapo City, and from there get on a bus to Iba. It’s a hassle, but it’s entirely worth it to get to be a part of the Mango Festival and get to know Filipino culture and tradition.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!