October marks the season of “Guintong suha” in the city when the streets of Barangay Irawan would be lined up with makeshift huts selling the famous sweet pomelo.
After the Spanish colonization, there were only about 400 houses that remained in the interior of Puerto Princesa. Chinese nationals started to settle in the early 1940s, pioneered by Tan Seng Yee, Tan Et Ching, Goh Tian Suy, Pe Chuaco, and Pe Tingco.
A certain Goh Cawa was then married to Agripina Mondragon of Puerto Princesa. The Cawas were good friends with the Guinto (Filipino) patriarch, the latter being the principal baptismal sponsor in Cawa’s son.
Life went on peacefully as it would back then, save for transportation which was virtually nonexistent, and “compadres” had to paddle almost an hour traversing the river separating Irawan to the inland “city”. Cawa, upon his return from mainland China, excitedly shared few pieces of “sung-sung” (later turned into suhá) to Guinto.
By mere accident, seven pomelo trees were germinated near the hut where Guinto usually spent his afternoon “siesta”. Six pomelo trees were knocked down by Typhoon Seniang in the 1950s, but fortunately, one survived that eventually became the centennial “mother” tree yielding hundred of other trees through its scions.
In the 1950s, the Guinto patriarch sought help from Dr. Gonzalo Merino and Herminiano de la Cruz, former directors of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), to enhance the farm techniques in propagating pomelos.
Years passed and the pomelo tree population grew to encompass around six hectares of land in Brgy. Irawan. Ramon “Bon” S. Guinto, Sr. was subsequently awarded Most Outstanding Farmer in 1993 because of his innovation in improving the quantity and quality of pomelo in the city.
Today, the Guinto family farm produces 400 to 500 kilos of sweet pomelo every other day from some 900 trees.
Palawan’s agriculture is one of its bread and butter, and it is a look back with great fondness how the Guinto family helped in all its sweet gloriousness.