Iloilo town mulls to be ‘lechon capital’ amid festival flak, ASF

The town of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo wants to cement its reputation as lechon center of the province despite the flak it got from the first Lechon Festival last Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Ugyon Santa Barbara/Facebook)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The town of Santa Barbara is pushing itself to become the “lechon center” of Iloilo province despite its first-ever festival of roast pigs getting flak online and offline, as well as the presence of the African Swine Fever (ASF) disease in the town.

Santa Barbara town mayor Dennis Superficial told Daily Guardian on Monday that they were considering holding “lechon festivals” every Sunday to attract lovers of the roasted fare.

“We want to sustain the lechon supply here so we can be known as the lechon center of Iloilo. We haven’t fixed our plans, but we want to open to those who love lechon every Sunday here at the plaza, but the price may be different,” Superficial said in a phone interview.

The local government drew criticisms last Sunday after the public found out that the lechons displayed during the first-ever Lechon Festival were already reserved to other buyers.

Superficial said that holding lechon-eating events regularly in the town could help ease ASF fears, adding that they will only use pigs from barangays that do not have cases.

“ASF is a serious disease among pigs, but not all of the town is hit, only those ‘red’ areas. Other barangays have healthy pigs, so that’s what we will be using, not the ones with ASF. We will raise the presumptions on pigs so that their population will also go down, also to avoid ASF,” he stated.

As to the flak that the town government received, Superficial said that they did not expect the turnout for the festival, which led to the lack of roasted pigs.

“The lechon makers were anxious that we may not sell enough lechon, they accepted reservations. But then, there were many reservations and there were also many who bought [during the festival] who weren’t able to get theirs because of these reservations,” he added.

He earlier said in an interview with Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on Monday that the town government is taking responsibility for the response they garnered during the festival.

The first-ever Lechon Festival in Santa Barbara held last Sunday, November 27, was geared towards the recovery of the province against ASF.

As of November 23, Santa Barbara has had 47 ASF cases, according to data from the Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO).

Daily Guardian has reached out to IPVO chief Darel Tabuada as to more recent data, but he has not responded as of this writing.