#ItsMoreFuninZambales indeed. I never thought Zambales has a lot to offer until I joined last week's Mango Festival at Iba. We arrived at the Provincial Capitol adorned with mangoes all over early morning.
It was so colorful that I didn't fret to go gaga over mangoes next. We headed to the cultural exhibit featuring the different municipalities of Zambales. I was surprised at the booths promoting their OTOP (one town one product) because it did not only use mangoes as the main ingredient.
Castillejos had Cora's Polvoron De Kasoy (powdered Cashew Nuts Candy) and Pancit Canton Kalabasa (Squash Noodles) while San Marcelino featured Singkamas (Turnip) Pie, Yema Balls Candies, Boat Tart and some mango varieties like the Big Slipper and Carabao.
Just when I thought the products will be like candies and popular products, I was so surprised that San Narciso had Mango Wine and Pickled Onions as OTOP.
What was the most surprising was the Curacha (spanner crab or red crab frog) endemic at the town of Cabangan, Zambales.
We didn't get to try the Curacha because we arrived at the booth before lunch time. Apparently, so many had eaten the Curacha seldom harvested at Cabangan but we had a sip of the Nipa Juice and the Basi Wine.
Nibbles here and there at the tour of the different municipalities of Zambales made us all forget lunch and headed to the Water Bonzai exhibit. We went back to Bakasyunan Resort and Conference Center after and met a few beautiful Americans staying for Balikatan exercises. We were told that a streetdance was already starting at the Sports Complex. The scorching heat of the sun was painful but the colorful costumes and lively dancers/participants was enough to motivate us to watch. Gov. Jun Ebdane was so early and stayed until the whole activity finished. It was quite surprising to watch a governor do that because some of the politicians back in Manila will usually just stay a few seconds, give a long speech about themselves and leave right away.
He was quite simple the way he delivered his speech acknowledging all those who participated and who made everything possible. What's most surprising was we left before the final announcement of the winners and he was still there. Out of the 8 provinces, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Aurora, Zambales, Bulacan (and some I can't recall anymore), Mango Festival of Zambales was hailed as the champion of the streetdance. Everyone was happy cheering for the participants.
Mango Festival at night was even more exciting with the colorful lights that made all the mango decors alive and the coronation night of the Ms. Iba Zambales. Other contests were held and the main attractions were XB Gensan Dancers from It's Showtime of ABS-CBN and XFactor Philippines first grand winner, KZ Tandingan.
The next day was the Sand Art Challenge, Lifeguard Challenge at Palmera Garden Beach Resort participated by other provinces including Boracay lifeguards and the Mango Eating Challenge. We had to leave early although we've heard PBB Teen stars will be performing the same night. I really enjoyed my first time being in Iba, Zambales. It was also my first time joining their Mango Festival. Aside from the celebrities, the Curacha, the Nipa Juice, and the beautiful beach resorts, I will never forget the Mangoes and its varieties grown in Zambales. Although it cannot be compared to those from Guimaras, the varieties, Indian Mango, Apple Mango, Bangladesh Mango, Pico Mango, Hawaiian Mango, Carabao Mango, Cambodian Mango and more importantly the biggest of them all, the Millenium Mango which was as big as my own head. I've tried so many mangoes in Iba, Zambales and I will definitely go back for more. They have virgin beach resorts like Potipot Island and so many other islands to explore for those who hates crowdy and dirty popular beach resorts. It's time to really Choose Zambales. It is definitely more fun in Zambales. For more information, please visit http://www.zambalesnow.com/ for details on resorts, hotels and tour arrangements.