The paho is like an unripe mango in appearance. They are much smaller than the piko and kalabaws that we know. Piko and Kalabaw mangoes, along with the Indian mango, are varieties of the common edible mango . The parent species name is Mangifera indica, suggesting that the plant hails from India and is not native to the Philippine Islands. The Philippines is however known for M. indica varieties that have adapted to our wet climate, India having drier seasons. I suspect that our mangoes are juicier, because the Philippine trees have acclimatized to our richer soil and abundant supply of water and humidity. On the other hand, paho is a different species in itself, Mangifera altissima. It is native here in the Philippines.
I heard pahos are considered delicacies, more as a vegetable rather than a dessert fruit like its M. indica cousins. The paho is used as an ingredient for local salads (ensaladas mixed with patis, bagoong, onions and tomatoes) and pickle dishes (buro). My friend, Arch Mimie de Jesus, who is no stranger to the paho, remembers the fruit from her childhood days in Teresa, Rizal. She exclaims she could eat the small fruits like peanuts, enjoying them with just a little rock salt.
Pahos are in season usually at this time, along with the common mango. But if the tree is not in fruit it hard to distinguish from the regular M. indica. I chanced upon a tree in Prof. Roberto Coronel's farm in Calauang, Laguna and I could not tell it apart from the regular mango trees we see. I have not seen a paho tree in the wild, probably because of this reason. But I hope the wild trees are still there. They most likely are judging from the abundant produce sold in the weekend market last Sunday. I hope it stays that way in the coming years for us to enjoy the paho in the future.