Borongan holds first lechon festival
() - September 9, 2011 - 12:00am

BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar, Philippines — This sleepy town woke up to a squeaking morning recently to celebrate a lechon (roasted pig) festival. It was the first time the city celebrated the festival.

As early as 6 a.m., residents of the city lined up the streets to witness a parade of roasted pigs, which, according to first-time Borongan City Mayor Maria Fe Abunda, was once dubbed by President Aquino and his sister Kris, as the best lechon in the country.

Taking the cue from the verbal endorsements of P-Noy and Kris — which they uttered in one of their sorties in Borongan at the height of the presidential campaign in 2010 — the city government took the initiative to hold a lechon festival this year to coincide with the city fiesta.

“Because we are confident of the superior taste of our lechon, we will make the festival a yearly event in our city. We also want this event to invite tourists to come to Borongan to discover more about our province, particularly in the aspect of culinary tourism,” Abunda, elder sister of TV celebrity Boy Abunda, told The STAR.

Many balikbayan Borongans joined the festivity with their foreign spouses or friends. Germans and Britons clapped at the sight of roasted pigs being paraded in front of them.    

There were only 14 lechon that were showcased in a competition but the thick crowd of people who paraded with their own entries made the mood frenetic and engaging. Each lechon was paraded on festively decorated pedicabs, tricycles and motorcycles. Even the roasted pigs were styled to perfection — some a la Michael Jackson replete with white socks, others paraded in their bikinis.

As each entry was chopped for the judges to taste, the aroma of garlic, shallots, pepper and laurel leaves wafted in the air. These were the ingredients that the lechoneros of Borongan used to stuff their roasted pigs. The lechon skin crackled at the judges’ each bite. There was ready vinegar dip at the lechon station but the judges opted to eat it the way many of the local Borongan treated their lechon: without the sauce. Each roasted pig entry came with side dishes of boiled sweet potato, taro and plantain.

At the end of the day, the people of Borongan occupying the city plaza cheered for Joel Pilarca, a 27-year-old litsonero, for bagging the grand prize. Pilarca, a part-time lechon vendor, bested even those known lechon establishments in the city.

Abunda said it was Kris Aquino who donated the cash prizes for the winners, even the consolation prizes. She added her brother Boy is also instrumental in the success of their first-ever Borongan lechon festival.

Aside from fishing and farming coconut and palay, selling lechon is also another livelihood for the residents of the city’s 61 barangays. “Next year, we expect all the barangays of Borongan City to participate to make the lechon festival more festive, more happy,” Abunda said.

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