Every 24th of July
Municipality of Balasan
5th District, Iloilo
When it comes to lechon (roast suckling pig), there is no place in Iloilo that takes it as seriously as the folks in Balasan. The annual Lechon Festival is a celebration of food, culture and community, making it truly one of Iloilo’s most unique festivals.
As a kick-off to their Religious Fiesta celebration in honour of their patron, Sta. Ana, every 24th of July, residents of this town gathers on the main street fronting the municipal hall to share a sumptuous feast, the culinary centerpiece is the most revered of all Filipino food, the mouth-watering and flavourful lechon.
The entire day creates an aromatic atmosphere that hangs over the festival, leaving a taste you will never forget. As early as 3 a.m. the cooks are already preparing the lechon. The pig is placed on a spit, innards removed, on a large stick and cooking it in a roasting pit filled with charcoal. It is roasted while continuously wiping its skin with brush made of banana leaves with oil and milk. This procedure makes the skin crispy, and repeatedly roasting it over the heat for at least 5 hours until they turn a crispy, red-golden brown.
The highlight of this theme-based festival is a mischievous merriment through a no-holds-barred boodle fight open to everybody. By the time the boodle fight starts at noon, the skin will be crispy, with some fat and super tender roast meat. The sumptuous buffet features a whole pig on display. People just sidle up to the table and pluck off whatever they want. When lunch is over, there is nothing but a few bones. Boodle feast bring the community even closer together.
The festival has fostered cooperation between the barangay officials and the residents.