A Prelude to Parada ng Lechon 2010

Parada ng Lechon in Balayan, Batangas is one of the Philippine festivals attracting a huge number of local and foreign participants. This is one of the most celebrated events in the province and has been a trademark of the people of Balayan for so many years now.

This year, WOWBatangas will again take part in this festival on June 24. Rest assured that we’ll be publishing another great adventure by sharing with you the accounts of what we’ll be experiencing on the 2010 Parada ng Lechon.

By the way, here’s another article from one of our contributors, Rodelio Hernandez. This is a full-length article on the beginnings of Parada ng Lechon and last year’s celebration of the festival. This feature came out July 2009 in the Current News newspaper.

With or Without Recession, “Lechon Parade goes on…”

(Text and Images: Rodelio L. Hernandez)

The feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated on the 24th day of June. In Balayan, Batangas, this special day is popularly known as “San Juan”, connoting the colorfully wet celebration which culminates in an event called “PARADA NG LECHON”, a parade of mouth-watering, red-crisp, roasted pigs — marked as a red-letter day in the Tourism calendar.

The Christian rite of baptism involves dousing with water, so did the practice of water-splashing begin from the time the traditional parade of roasted pigs commenced. It reportedly started in the year 1906 as an act of thanksgiving of families grateful for the bounties of the year past who used to parade a lechon during the feast of St. John the Baptist. This act of veneration hinges on the belief that they would receive more blessings in the year to come. In those days, they would all troop to the beach, swimming and water-splashing after the lechon parade.

According to Vice Mayor Meldos Castelo, this year’s Hermandad president and chairman of the “Parada” organizing committee, the affair was formalized in Dec. 8, 1959 with the organization of the Hermandad San Juan Bautista, tasked to oversee the celebration. He cited Dr. Mariano Rodica as the first Hermandad president (1959-1960), followed by his late father, Atty. Reynaldo Castelo who steered the association for two (2) years (1960-1962), and was succeeded by various community leaders onward until his present-day tenure, which is made especially memorable as this year marks the golden anniversary (50th celebration) of the Hermandad as well as the very popular “Parada ng Lechon” of the Balayeños.

It was customary to have a volunteer “Hermano Mayor” who oversees the traditional novena in veneration of their patron saint, Santo San Juan Bautista (the original image of which is under the care of the Garcia-Ortiz family at its “sanctuario” located in Concordia corner Caoibes Sts. at the western section of the poblacion). The devotion starts with the “dapit” on June 14, an announcement which heralds the celebration and corresponding activities for the coming festivity, followed by the “novena” or nine-day vigil-prayer (June 15-23) held at the “tuklong” (chapel), and culminates on the feast day of St. John the Baptist with the holy mass celebrated in the morning of June 24 at the church of the Immaculate Conception Parish, after which the “Parada ng Lechon” begins.

As related by Vice Meldos, this year’s celebration has no individual Hermano Mayor who traditionally handles full oversight responsibility of all related activities, hence the community’s elders and barangay leaders decided to pool their efforts to take charge of the Hermano’s functions. It turned out to be a fruitful collaboration as everything went on smoothly from the preparatory programs up to the actual feast day.

With everyone’s wish to make this year the longest and grandest parada celebration ever, even the threat of an incoming typhoon did not affect the projected revelry. With about 212 groups signifying their intention to join the lechon parade, the organizers safely accounted for a record turn-out of not less than 200 roasted pigs displayed around the traditional route on a much shorter time, thanks to a careful planning and evaluation of past experiences which all the more heightened the commemoration of fifty (50) “funtastic” years of the Hermandad as well as the Parada ng Lechon.

Highlighting its impact on tourism is the evolution of the festivity into a two-week event, participated in by small and big business groups, various socio-civic organizations as well as the LGUs, and chronicled by both local and international media. It has thus, turned out into one of the country’s most lavish, unique and well-attended fiesta celebrations held every 24th day of June.

The roster of activities include off-road bike challenge, the mechanical bull-riding challenge, beer-drinking contests, battle of the bands, and the much vaunted parade of lechons during the actual feast day after which the mammoth crowd spills over into respective street parties around the town.

This year’s parade featured around 200 roasted pigs dressed up in various outfits depending on the groups they represent. Some are featured as folk dancers, others in costumes showcasing the town’s academic, business and medical institutions, propped up in colorful platforms or vehicles. Favorite crowd-pleasers are the lechon-zorro, the trike-rider, a masked swine-flu conscious lechon, and a keyboard-toting lechon-programmer.

Truly there’s nothing that can dampen the high spirits of Balayeños on this day of the lechons… not the winds of typhoon Feria nor the swine flu scare… not even the crunch of global recession.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to Rodelio Hernandez’s album of Parada ng Lechon 2010. Click HERE to view the photos.

Considered one of the most famous festivities in the Philippine tourism calendar, Balayan’s Parada ng Lechon attracts hordes and hordes of participants/guests everytime the 24th of June comes. It has equalled (if not surpassed) the popularity of that quaint painstakingly-processed viand Balayan is known for – vintage bagoong. When you hear Balayeños in Manila say “Uwi tayo sa San Juan”, it means they shall take part in the Parada revelry come June 24. — Del H.