On the morning of March 11, people woke up to see the following message circulating in their group chats and social media feeds:
“Hello all. There are 1.6 tons of Guimaras mangoes in DTI Makati. The Food Fair was cancelled. If you want to buy to help the farmer co-ops, you can call Ms. Mary Jean ****** at (0917) *** ****.”
Soon enough, netizens were quick to spread the message, but when ANCX tried contacting the person mentioned in the message, our calls and text messages wouldn’t go through. Where did the message come from and was it real?
It turns out that the story is very real, and yes, those 1,600 kilos of Guimaras mangoes went on sale after the National Food Fair was postponed, according to a representative of the Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (BDTP) at the Department of Trade and Industry.
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The BDTP was slated to hold its National Food Fair: Philippine Cuisine & Ingredients Show on March 12 to 15, 2020 at the Megatrade Halls in SM Megamall, Mandaluyong. On March 10, the bureau announced on its Facebook page that the event no longer could push through, stating, “In compliance with Proclamation 922 declaring a state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 threat, the Department of Trade and Industry has decided to postpone the 2020 National Food Fair to a later date.”
The National Food Fair promised over 300 exhibitors from the country’s 16 regions, offering both processed and fresh food products. However, when the postponement was announced, a shipment of 1,600 kilos of fresh mangoes was already on its way to Manila from Guimaras Province. With the postponement of the fair, the mangoes could no longer be displayed and sold, and were therefore at risk of spoiling. Guimaras has long been famous as the Mango Capital of the Philippines, celebrating a yearly Manggahan Festival every May where the island is virtually awash with mangoes, which many consider the best in the country.
The BDTP representative stressed that they did not issue any official notice about the sale of these Guimaras mangoes, and that the announcement that went viral was done by an individual not connected with the bureau. However, he confirmed that indeed, their office was selling them at the bargain price of PHP 200 per kilo. Thanks to that viral post, the bureau received multiple calls within the day of the post, and by midday, all 1,600 kilos were already reserved for sale.
As of the publishing of this article, the Guimaras mangoes are still in transit to Manila, with the BDTP anticipating delivery later in the day of March 11. The bureau rep confirmed that the buyers are all individuals, not institutions, with most of them placing orders of just 1 to 2 kilos. He expressed surprise at the number of calls that came in, with his office quite simply inundated with orders. But he also expressed appreciation for the public’s enthusiastic response, which ultimately helps support the mango farmers from Guimaras.