Energetic dancers dressed up as mango farmers are seen performing during the Manggahan Festival celebration in Jordan, Guimaras. PHOTO BY TMX MARKETING

Festivals have a special place in my heart. Living in Western Visayas – the home of some of the country’s most famous festivals – that space has been consistently cherished. But not May last year.

It was supposed to be my first Manggahan experience. I took the 9 p.m. boat trip from Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City to Guimaras, pumped up with all the plans I have for the following days.

Unfortunately, I got ditched.

So there I was walking at the Provincial Capitol Grounds in Jordan town, frustrated. To make things worse, I was soaked in rain (It rained so hard that time) and I got nowhere else to go but home. So I did.

Apparently, here are five amazing things I’ve missed.

  1. The mangoes

Of course, this is on top of the list. It’s no secret that Guimaras champions its sweet mangoes. During the annual Manggahan, there’s a mango-eat-all-you-can activity where you have to shell out more or less P120 as registration. After that, you can enjoy the “mango buffet” – with the yellow and the green ones in it – for 30 minutes. No takeaways!

  1. Band performances

Oh yes – the bands. The Guimaras capitol ground has been a witness of band performances since time immemorial. Bands, like Parokya ni Edgar, have been in the island province to render their classic and new hits. Oftentimes, local artists from Iloilo, Negros Occidental and other parts of the region are there to do front acts. You can hype up your festival mood by singing with them at the top of your lungs. Admission is free!

  1. Cultural performances

The Manggahan organizers are also inviting other festival representatives from across the country to perform during a cultural show, which is one of the highlights of the celebration. If you’re feeling extra, you can dress up as one of the festival reps – or you can just enjoy the performances like an average festival-goer. You choose.

  1. Exploring the island

Well, actually, you can do this even not during the Manggahan. I’ve been to some resorts and beaches in Guimaras and yes, they do not disappoint. But be open to the idea of having festival side trips. They are fun. After eating those mangoes, you can salt up your summer, too!

  1. A chance to fall in love

Because we’re the new romantics.  LOL.  But who knows, right? Maybe falling in love in a festival is something you need right now./PN

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