THE sun was out, the streets filled with people, all soaked in ice cold water. This is the typical scene during the annual celebration of the Lechon Festival in Balayan, Batangas.
Celebrated every June 24, people flock to the oldest town in Batangas to witness the world famous Parada ng Lechon. It is during this time when the town turns into one big street party with bands playing in every major corner entertaining the crowd.
On Tuesday, the festivities began as early as 6 a.m. People lined up along the streets and on their rooftops, everyone holding a water hose, a toy gun, or just about anything they can use to scoop ice-cold water from huge containers in order to participate in the centuries-old practice of water dousing in places where St. John the Baptist is the patron saint.
The site of people parading lechons is truly a spectacle to behold especially for first timers.
Emma Stokking, 25, a French consultant currently based in the province, was amazed with what she witnessed.
“Town fiestas such as this is the ultimate display of Filipino hospitality. All the houses are open and locals serve overflowing food to just about anyone who walks in,” Stokking said.
“This is also the first time I’ve experienced drinking beer at 9 a.m. and bathing out in the street, fully clothed!,” she added.
Parada ng Lechon originated in the old thanksgiving custom of the working class in what used to be the poor and depressed area of Kanluran district (Western Poblacion) of Balayan.
During the Spanish and American regimes, families who were fortunate enough to receive some significant blessing during the past year would parade a lechon in the town plaza every June 24—the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist.
To the poor people of Balayan, the parading of lechon in the plaza where the Roman Catholic Church is at the center, is the best show of thanksgiving and veneration to their patron saint.
Today the Parada ng Lechon is nationally known and internationally acclaimed as the ultimate fiesta experience—the most hospitable, lavish and unique fiesta celebration in the country.