There's an Unusual Pig Party in Cabug, Bacolod
Choose Philippines | January 28, 2020
Story and photos by Marty Go
Every Filipino feast is not complete without Lechon, the traditional spit-roasted suckling pig with a crackling crust sheltering juicy, flavorful meat. Reinventing such a beloved staple is a tall order but Barangay Cabug, Bacolod City has managed to do just that.
The agricultural barangay, where pig farming is one of the major livelihoods of its residents, is host to an annual Lechon event every third Sunday of January. Hundreds descend on the area for a pig-centered celebration that has become a local tourist attraction. The annual flamboyant motorcade of lechons started out as a small community affair where proud hog raisers roasted the pigs that they raised in their own backyards. Unlike most festivals where Lechon is merely placed on the table to be feasted on by guests, these Cabug lechons are made to wear costumes and mounted on colorfully adorned bamboo poles. They are then paraded all over the barangay for the neighborhood and tourists to feast their eyes on.
What started as a handful of roasted pigs has swelled to about 31 participants in the last decade, making it a visual and delectable feast for the senses. For the 14th annual Lechon festival, the roasts followed a Disney theme with much fanfare by residents from the different zones and sectoral organizations. Each roast was displayed inside fully decorated booths that matched the outfit of the Lechon. The pomp and pageantry were nothing short of awesome. “They are very creative and it’s nice to see all the people working together for this event,” said Giselle Alek who is a resident of the place. One roast was dressed as Aladdin on top of a magic carpet with its booth designed as a palace. Another depicted Moana flanked by two persons in costumes. Yet another was inspired by The Jungle Book and incorporated live animals such as an iguana and albino python as part of their booth design.
After the parade, everyone gathered in the gymnasium for a free-for-all Lechon tasting. Guests and residents freely hopped from one Lechon to another, their paper plates sagging under the weight of all that glistening pork. “They all taste differently. I even got some for my grandchild,” said Flora Gumban, while holding a piece of Lechon meat in one hand. It is apparent that the lechons are not only judged by how they looked, but their taste was also equally important. Aspiring chef GP Velasco confided that he is looking for a distinct taste, one which remains in the palate and in one's mind. "The secret lies in the ingredients stuffed inside the Lechon as it is roasted," GP said.
Cabug Barangay Chairman Juan Zonuel Malayang said they are working hard every year to improve the festival as it has developed into a local tourist attraction. "We are now looking for a bigger venue within the barangay where we can build permanent booths for every purok to be used for the annual Lechon festival," he revealed.