Some friends of mine look forward to summer for the seasonal PAHO, sometimes spelled PAJO. It is a very small, unripe, green mango-like fruit, native here in the Philippines, available from March till April. Its species name is Mangifera1 altissima. Actually, it is more of a vegetable rather than a dessert fruit.2
It is called by different names in the country: paho in Tagalog, Pangi in Visayan, and Popouan in Kapampangan.3
Pajo has a unique taste – sour, acidic, tart, bit sappy or bitter, and mouth-puckering, depending on other ingredients added.
Some simply munch on pahos dipped in rock salt. Paho is used mostly as an ingredient for a salad where it is pitted then cut julienne-style, mixed with chopped tomatoes and onions, patis (fish sauce) and even wansuy (cilantro), bagoong (fermented fish or krill) and/or chopped itlog na maalat (salted eggs).
It can also be enjoyed with anything fried or roasted/barbecued, like as a side dish for fried fish, longganisa or tapa, chopped and mixed with bagoong balayan or even just patis.
The Batangas-Laguna residents savor pajo with sinaing na tulingan (braised tuna). I do not eat these but those I know who do swear that they tend to eat more rice and food when pajo is served as an accompaniment.
Other Filipinos pickle and even “buro”pajo, i.e. they are sliced, pitted, placed in a container, preferable a glass container, and soaked in a salt-water solution. This can then be kept in the refrigerator overnight and, the next day, enjoyed as a delicious and crunchy treat. Properly refrigerated, it can last for a few weeks.
Some consider it a bit expensive since it costs PHP80-100 per small bundle in the wet market.
pajo, sold in small bunches, as displayed in wet markets, along with other items
However, only a small amount is needed to enjoy it as a side dish or snack. So, a bundle will be able to satisfy a lot of people.
For balikbayans and people who miss this seasonal treat, sorry but you just have to wait next summer to enjoy it!
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1Mangifera is the flowering plant genus of mangoes, according to Wikipedia page “Mango”.4
4”Mango,” accessed April 4, 2018,