I played tourist last week and decided to check out a place which has been in my curiosity radar for a long time. Ternate (in Cavite province), when I was very young, seemed so far, so very “over there” in the mists of time and the waters off Manila Bay.
This municipality takes its name from a place in the Spice Islands of 16th century fame. It was then populated by Indonesian-Portuguese peoples who volunteered to help the Spanish ward off a rumored Chinese invasion of Manila. The threat never materialized, but the volunteers decided to stay. And so there’s a corner of Luzon where people speak Chavacano: part Portuguese, part Indonesian, part Malay, part Spanish, part Tagalog.
Driving down the streets of this beach town, I noted scores of mango trees and some breadfruit trees. I surmised that some of the mangoes on the roadside stands along the way from Manila must have come from Ternate.
The mango is native to Southeast Asia. Its English name came from the Portuguese manga, which is from the Tamil manga.
This esteemed fruit, said to rival the peach in flavor and texture, is the national fruit of both India and the Philippines. Its shape also figures in a perennially fashionable pattern called paisley. Note the similarities:
The characteristic design known as paisley has been used since the 2nd century in Iran. Trade contacts brought the pattern to India, where artists modified it to better reflect the shape of their favorite fruit, the mango.