The Lechon Festival in the town of Balayan is one of the most-awaited festivities in the Philippines. People across the world would come to Balayan just to experience this exhilarating festival.
Held every June 24 in honor of St. John the Baptist, the day starts pretty early as the streets are already filled with festivities, with people dancing along with visitors from all over the world. The local government and residents prepare nothing but tons of exciting activities for everyone to enjoy—street dancing, Parada ng Lechon (lechon parade) where the main star of the event is not represented by actual people—although dressed up like one, and the most exciting part, basaan (water dousing).
And while the locals test the patience of passers-by, the mood is mostly filled with delight which is always evident in everyone’s faces.
Read on to know more about the Lechon Festival.
History of Lechon Festival
The world-famous “Parada ng Lechon” originated in the old thanksgiving in what-used-to-be the poor and depressed area of the Kanluran district (western Poblacion) of Balayan, Batangas.
During the Spanish and American regimes, well-off families or those fortunate enough to receive some significant blessings during the past year would parade a lechon in the town plaza every June 24, the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, the town’s patron saint. To the poor people of Balayan, the lechon parade is the best act of thanksgiving and veneration to their patron saint.
As the years passed, as more and more poor people from the Kanluran district became successful, more and more lechons were paraded every June 24.
In 1959, the elders of the Kanluran district organized the Hermandad San Juan Bautista (Brotherhood of St. John the Baptist) to oversee the celebration of what has come to be known as the Parada ng Lechon sa Balayan, Batangas.
From a one-day celebration, it became a two-week event, with various activities from sports tournaments, sing and dance contests, magic and acrobatic shows, bicycle race, the battle of the bands, ballroom dancing, beauty pageant, free concerts, fireworks show, beer drinking and live bands in the streets, and more, that make up the electrified atmosphere during the whole celebration.
Now, many tourists both local and foreign flock to Balayan to experience Lechon Festival.
What to do at the Lechon Festival
1. Watch the Parada ng Lechon
One of the most-awaited events and the main highlight of the festival is the lechon parade. Many roasted pigs are dressed like humans, sometimes in famous characters, while others are just covered with plastic. Locals do this to ensure that the lechon won’t be soggy after the parade.
2. Enjoy the basaan
This is undoubtedly the most fun part of the event because everyone is allowed to douse water to each other, may it be locals, tourists, or just passers-by. It can really test someone’s patience but this event is nothing but fun. A piece of advice though, trust no one! Because you’ll never know who will throw water (sometimes ice-cold) at you!
3. Support local businesses
During the festival, not only the lechons are featured but there are also other famous local delicacies you can try in Balayan like the Bagoong Balayan, a Pinoy condiment produced by fermenting ground scads (galunggong) or anchovies (dilis). You can also try the famous Batangas Lomi.
Tips in attending the Lechon Festival
• Always bring extra clothes because you’ll get wet wherever you go.
• Make sure your gadgets are stored in a waterproof bag so it won’t be damaged by the water.
• Bring a water gun so when someone doused water at you, you’re ready to fight back!
• Bawal pikon. Have fun with the locals!
Where to stay in Batangas
If you’re planning to spend an overnight or a few more days, here are some of the best budget hotels in Batangas you can book.
ZEN Rooms Yellowbell Batangas is perfect for cultural travelers. This hotel features a modern interior, spacious lobby, an elevator, free parking, and local breakfast. The rooms are complete with amenities and have windows to enjoy the sea and the city view. The hotel is near a mall and the major terminal port.
Cost: PHP 1,500/night
What‘s great about ZEN Rooms Park B&B Batangas is that it’s located near major transportation hubs and Batangas tourist attractions. The hotel offers a 24-hour desk service and has great amenities.
Cost: PHP 2,500/night
After a tiring day from the festivity and a day full of tour activities, what better way to refresh than have a swim? ZEN Rooms Rosario Resort Batangas has a huge pool perfect to relax and freshen up. The rooms are also and designed with a modern interior.
Cost: PHP 4,200/night