THE global stock markets are in a meltdown. As if that’s not bad news enough, the government jumps from one controversy to another. First was that heavy traffic which is not life-threatening. Now the Bureau of Customs is seemingly more interested in balikbayan boxes than smuggling by the container load. Then we have some politicians who may be using public funds to employ political donors and household drivers as “consultants,” according to the Commission on Audit.
Maybe it is time to take a break to examine an issue that is less serious.
The BusinessMirror reported that “The Philippines and Mexico have signed a new and expanded intellectual-property (IP) cooperation agreement that aims to boost trade and transfer of innovation between the two countries. The two IP offices agreed to cooperate to ensure the proper administration, protection, use and enforcement of industrial property rights, such as invention patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks and geographical indications.”
Note the last two words in that paragraph—“geographical indications.” That takes us back all the way to 2005, when then Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture and of Foreign Affairs would be taking appropriate steps to defend the local mango from being sidelined in the exports market. This was in reaction to Mexico using the term “Manila mango” to describe its fruit exports to the US.
At that time, then-Senator and Chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture Ramon Magsaysay said the Mexican label is misleading. “For a country that boasts of mango as its national fruit, it is ironic that the Philippine mango industry is not getting the exposure it deserves.”
Even Mexico at that time acknowledged that its Ataulfo variety mango was probably a hybrid from mangos planted by Filipino “overseas workers” who went to Mexico 200 years ago during the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. Apparently, even back then, Filipino workers were being taken advantagea of by the countries they helped build.
Mexico’s Ataulfo mango, which is almost identical to the local mango we buy every day, was designated by Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial) as originating in the Mexican province of Chiapas.
However, despite Mexico claiming this mango variety as its own—similar to China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea—Mexico exports the fruit to the US under the name Manila mango. Perhaps, “Mexican mango” did not have the same consumer appeal.
After 10 years, maybe the Philippine government is going to get Manila mango to apply only to fruit exported from the Philippines. That would be good.
Now, if the government can just get China to come on board with the same kind of agreement.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano