There is another type of festival in the Philippines that Filipinos love the most. It is called Parada ng Lechon Festival. It is the parade of crispy golden-red roasted pigs. Though it is not unusual that Filipinos would grace their tables with a whole roasted pig (lechon) during big celebrations like birthday bash, weddings, baptisms and even fiestas, which are celebrations to honor the saints, parading the lechon on the streets is way more interesting and exciting. This happy celebration is specifically observed by the locals of Balayan, Batangas. The delicious aroma of sumptuous lechon, along with other delectable dishes like pancit (Filipino noodles), bihon, afritada and other delicious foods with the addition of the sweet desserts which range from native and modern delicacies, marks the celebration and the commemoration of their patron saint, St. John the Baptist.
More interestingly, the night before the day of the festival itself, the patrons hold a ball usually held at the town’s biggest gymnasium or the town plaza to crown the “king and queen lechon!” On the day of the fiesta celebration itself, at least 50 lechons are paraded around the town after the people attended the mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the lechons have been “blessed.” What makes the sight of the parade of the lechons interesting and a little funny at the same time is that they are drabbed in different costumes. Some of the paraded lechons are wearing sunglasses, wigs or even professional uniforms, or any quirky costume that the decorator can think of.
During the parade, some mischievous acts are being displayed by the people attending the celebration. Some of which is the tossing of water or beer to the onlookers drenching them as well as the bearers of the lechons and even the lechons. Some will even try to get a taste of the crispy lechon!
After the parade, the lechons are then brought to the respective bearers’ homes. And there, the celebration in each home begins! Friends, friends of friends, relatives, and relatives of relatives, and even non-friends, partake with the grand celebration with a lot of eating and drinking, talking and even singing the karaoke!
Elaborate Preparation for the Parade
Roasting the pigs proved to be very fun and interesting to see even for the locals and most especially for the tourists. The people doing the activity seemed very merry and they thoroughly enjoy the activity. Sometimes, there would be singing and drinking of beer, and of course, eating. To ensure that the “appearance” of the lechon looks detectable and mouth-watering, the people preparing them occasionally brush the pig with cooking oil blended with some soy sauce and other seasonings to make the lechons more delicious. The roasting of the pigs usually lasts for 4 to 5 hours, depending on how big the lechon is. The bigger the pig, the longer the time of roasting to ensure it is well-cooked.
After the lechons are cooked, it is now time to dress them up. The bearers of the lechon usually dress their lechon based on the theme of the celebration, but sometimes they also think of some quirky ideas to make their lechons catch more attention from the crowd.
After they are dressed up, the lechons are paraded to the church and there, “received their blessings.” The parade ends up with elaborate celebrations in each home. All of these to commemorate their patron saint, San Juan or St. John the Baptist.
This is just another glimpse of the interesting and rich culture of the Filipinos depicted in their celebrations, be it an elaborate or a simple one. Lots and lots of tourists from other neighboring cities, or from distant cities in the Philippines and tourists from other countries thoroughly have fun in these unique celebrations in the Philipppines!
The Parada ng Lechon or Roasted Pig Parade is a must-see festival in Balayan, Batangas which is held on June 24, the feast day of Saint John the Baptist or San Juan.