Parada ng Lechon; Decorating Pigs, Decorating Life

Parada ng Lechon (The Parade of Pigs), Batangas, Philippines

Map of the Phillipines;
www.google.com

 

Abstract

The Parada ng Lechon, occurs annually on June 24 in Batangas, Philippines. This festival celebrates the sainthood of John the Baptist and is celebrated by a procession of roasted pigs, or in tagalog with a Parada ng lechon. The villagers of this province drench the parade in water, to signify the baptism of Jesus and after the parade a large parade is held, where the roasted pigs that were paraded through town are consumed. This Festival serves as a religious  and spiritual purifying rite to the people of Batangas. It also provides a venue for reciprocity to occur.

 

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MNL_Tagaytay_and_Taal_Volcano2_b2.jpg  

 A picture of the beautiful Taal volcano. A  tourist favorite

Manfred's travel pictures: www.tropicalisland.de/MNL_Tagaytay_and
_taal_volcano2_6.jpg

A picture of  a Filipino child, at the volcano.

Manfred'sPictures:
www.tropicalisland.de/MNL_lake_Taal_island_small%20 filipino_b.jpg

Introduction

 The “PARADA NG LECHON” ( or The parade of pigs.) occurs annually on June 24th in Baylan Batangas., Philippines(see figure 2, Taal Volcano). (internet source:1)   In this festival pigs, also known as lechon, are costumed and decorated and are then paraded around the village.(Gonzalez Judith)  It celebrates the feast day of John the Baptist and it illustrates the  hospitable and religious nature of the Philippine culture. (Gonzalez, Judith). The Parada ng lechon serves as a religious and purifying rite to the people of Batangas and reveals the presence of reciprocity within a Southeast Asian context.  

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Context of the Philippines

 

The Philippines is a Southeast Asian archipelago that is made up of over 7000 islands. It is divided into three basic regions (refer to map): The northern region is referred to as Luzon, the central region is made up of a group of islands and is called the Visayas, the southern region is referred to as Mindanao and is home to a predominantly Islamic culture (Internet source:1).   The Philippine climate is tropical, so its people only experience two seasons: rainy season and dry season (Internet source:1).  The northern region, Luzon, is where the financial capital of the Philippines, Manila is located (Internet source:1). The Philippines is a democratic country and holds elections for its president every six years(Internet source:1). The province of Batangas, where the Parade of pigs occurs is only about a three hour drive from the city of Manila (Internet source: 2). Batangas was founded in 1581 and used to be called Balayan ( Internet source:4).  The old province of Balayan  was  a lot larger than the present day Batangas and was  made up of  three other areas: Mindoro, Marinduque and the southeastern portion of Laguna (Internet source:4). The capital of Balayan switched from the town of Balayan to Taal, in 1732 ( refer to figure one, Taal Volcano) and then was finally switched to the town of  Batangas(Internet source:4).

              Present day Batangas is located in Luzon by the provinces of Cavite and Laguna and has a land area of 316,580 hectares. It has a rolling terrain, with beautiful hills and mountains(Internet source:4). The people of this province speak Tagalog and are mostly of Spanish and Chinese descent.(see figure 3.)  It has a pretty cool climate compared to the rest of the Philippines and can reach a low of 69 degrees  Fahrenheit in February, its coolest month (Internet source:4). Christianity was brought to this region by the Spanish who colonized the Philippines and held it captive for over 300 years(Internet source:4). Christianity still remains the prominent religion in this part of the Philippines and still maintains  a great influence on cultural and political activities (Internet source:4). The  people of Batangas are known for their “adventurous,” “friendly” and “hospitable” nature and have acquired a reputation for being brave(Internet source:4). This reputation is strengthened by one of this province’s handicrafts  the Balisong, a handmade fan-knife. (Internet source:4).  The province of Batangas produces more than just handmade fan knives, but it is also known for it strong coffee, or  Kapeng Barako, which has a reputation of its own (Internet source:4).. Kapeng Barako is known throughout the province as coffee that is made for only the strongest of men (Internet source:4).  

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Origins of Parada ng Lechon

 

The word lechon is a tagalog word which translated in to English means roasted pig (internet source:5). Lechon is a delicacy of the Philippine Islands and its presence in the Philippines can be traced as far back as the pre- Spanish colonial period(internet source:5). It has become a symbol of Filipino culture and is mostly associated with feasts and festivals(internet source:5). The lechon is served, in the Philippines today, mainly as a celebratory dish, reminiscent of the American Turkey or the Chinese moon cake (internet source:5). It serves as a community enhancing mechanism because it seems to always bring people together in festive solidarity(internet source:5).  The Fiesta became a big part of Philippine culture after the introduction of the Catholic religion by the Spanish in 1571(Kuhn,103). The introduction of Catholicism also brought with it the beginning of saint worship in the Philippines. As Catholicism became to spread, each town, or in tagalong “Barangay,” acquired their own Parton Saint for which they would hold fiestas. Babylan, the town that celebrates the Parada ng Lechon, comes from the Chinese word “bai” which means house and is home to many old Spanish style houses (Internet source 4).  John the Baptist became the patron saint  of Babaylan and his sainthood is celebrated annually during the Parada ng Lechon(Internet source 4).

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Performance

The golden red lechon is the centerpiece of all Philippine fiestas, and it is in this festival where lechons are paraded around, either by people carrying them on foot or  are placed on motor floats (Gonzalez, Judith). On the day of the festival, all of the roasted pigs that will participate in the parade, are lined up outside of the church, while a mass is held in John the Bapist’s honor(Gonzalez, Judith).  The pigs are then blessed by a priest, during the mass,  in honor of John the Baptist (Gonzalez, Judith).

         When decorating the pigs, the townspeople do not hesitate to display their creativity (Gonzalez, Judith).  The lechons can be dressed in a multitude of costumes from bridal dresses to t-shirts. (refer to artifact) (Gonzalez, Judith). Local companies that take part in this event decorate their pigs in company memorabilia(Gonzalez, Judith).  Dousing activities are another aspect of this festival as they recreate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist(Gonzalez, Judith). While the parade marches through their town, local on lookers douse the parade participants with water(Gonzalez, Judith). They not only wet the lechons but they usually end up drenching the parade participants as well(Gonzalez, Judith). Aside from mischievously wetting the parade, the onlookers also take an active role in trying to knock the lechons down as well as trying to steal a bite from one of the decorated pigs. (Gonzalez, Judith).  When the parade is over, the townspeople engage in a large feast where all of the lechons are consumed(Gonzalez, Judith). The idea of reciprocity comes in to play during the feast, as the person with the best lechon, the one that is least wet and the one with the most meat, is congratulated(Cronk,Lee;Gonzalez, Judith).. The other villagers will then try to acquire the best lechon to share during the next feast(Gonzalez, Judith).

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Artifact

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Interpretation

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Prognosis for The Parada ng Lechon

     Based on my many visits to the Philippines, I can attest to the fact that more people are becoming aware that a celebration like this exists. This is revealed  through many conversations that I have had with teachers, relatives and close friends, they have all admitted to having either heard of the PArda ng Lechon Festival or have either been or know people that have been. I have actually been to this festival, and can attest to the fact that there were alot of tourists present, and from what I gathered from being there, the populations of tourists that attend the festival seem to increase annually. There are actually similar celebrations that occur throughout the country. However none of them are as well known as the Parada ng Lechon in Batangas. This parade is mentioned and praised in many travel websites as being a greaet way to experience Filipino culture.

 The fact that a celebration like this is mentioned on travel websites as well as on ones that deal with the history of the Philippines, shows that it is growing in popularity and that it has and will continue to maintain an important part of Filipino culture.

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Conclusion

                 The parada ng lechon serves as a religious and purifying rite to the people of Batangas and reveals the presence of reciprocity within a southeast Asian context. It is because of the use of cultural icons like the lechon as well as spiritual icons such as the icons displayed in mass, that this celebration has achieved the popularity and has maintained a permanent place in Filipino culture. It is one of the only festivals in the Filipino context that presents cultural imagery, as well as political and religious imagery. The parade acts not only as a spiritual showcase but also works as a venue for political satire and as an avenue for people to display their interest in many things ranging from popular culture (dressing the lechon up as their favorite singers) to political interests and satire (when they dress their lechon up as either their favorite politician or their least favorite politician.)  This celebration as a whole is a valuable and pivotal part of  Filipino culture because it reflects all aspects of it and this is why  it is continuing to grow in its popularity.

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Internet References Cited

  •  "BATANGAS CITY: Best of the Islands Philippines." Philippine Travel Hotels and Resorts Reservation Service. Philippines Travel and Hotel Guide . 07 Sept 2004 <http://www.philtravelcenter.com/philippines/travelinfo/batangas-history.html>.

       This website provides information for people who wish to travel to the Philippines. It provides information on the various Islands and regions of the Philippines. It provides brief historical backgrounds for all the provinces as well as a brief overview of what they have to offer.

  •   Plaza, Mary Anne. "Balayan, Batangas: Parada ng Lechon: Pigs and a Saint." Escape to the Islands. Casino Filipino. 07 Sept 2004 <http://mobilemediaph.com/turista/celebrate/paradanglechon.html>.

     This site offers an array of articles, concerning the Philippines and Fiestas. It provides an informative article on the Parada ng Lechon, written by Mary Anne Plaza.

  •  "History of Batangas." Explore the Philippines. Wow Philippines. 07 Sept 2004 <http://www.wowphilippines.com.ph/explore_phil/place_details.asp?content=history&province=16>.

    This site provides a brief overview of the Philippines and its provinces. It provides a history for each and goes in to a discussion of their many different customs and local traditions, like the Parada ng Lechon Festival in Batangas.

  • Stockinger, Johann. 12 May 1995. Phillipine Culture and History. APSIS. 07 Sept 2004 <http://www.univie.ac.at/Voelkerkunde/apsis/aufi/culhist.htm#history>.

      This site provides many articles on Philippine History and culture. It provides information about everything from Filipino Folktales to Filipino Weddings. Johann Stockinger is the editor of the website.

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Peer-Reviewed References Cited

  • Bunge, Fredrica,ed. Philippines a Country Study. 3rd ed. Waashington D.C: Library of Congress, 1983.

  • Conklin, Harold. "Language, Culture and Environment:My Early Years." Annual Review of Anthropology 27 (). 20 Oct 2004 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0084-6570%281998%292%3A27%3Cxii%3ALCAEME%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C>.

  •  Constano, Renato. The Filipinos in the Philippines and other essays by Constano. Quezon City: Filipino Signatures, 1966.

  • Cronk, Lee. "Reciprocity and the Power of Giving." The Sciences may/june (1989): 164-9.

    Dorson, Richard. "." In Celebrration: Studies in Festvity and Ritual. Ed.Washington: Smithsonian Press, 1982

  • Goodell, Grace. "Paternalism,Patronage and Potlatch:the Dynamics of Giving and Being Given to." Current Anthropology, 26 (). 20 Oct 2004 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0011-3204%28198504%2926%3A2%3C247%3APPAPTD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-T>.

  • Mayers, Marvin. A Look at Filipino Lifestyles. Dallas, Texas: SIL Museum of Anthropology, 1980.

  • Steinburg, David Joel. The Philippines: A Singular and Plural Place. 4th ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000

  • Turner, Victor. In Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

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