Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Porky peak – Manila pig roasters in Christmas frenzy



Porky peak – Manila pig roasters in Christmas frenzy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
‘Lechoneros’ move roasted pigs after they were cooked in a pit in Manila. NOEL CELIS/AFP

Porky peak – Manila pig roasters in Christmas frenzy

ROW upon row of pigs on bamboo spits sizzle slowly over orange embers in Manila just before Christmas, peak season for the Philippines’ pig roasting “lechoneros”.

Smoke rises day and night from their cooking pits in the La Loma area, which brands itself a hub for producing one of the nation’s favourite foods: “lechon”, or roast suckling pig.

Crews shovel mounds of charcoal into neat rows under the pigs as they cook, gradually darkening into a crispy, caramel-colour.

“In December the demand for pork spikes, starting on the 15th up to the 31st,” said 44-year-old Arturo Ayapana, who has been a lechonero for 15 years. “We start [cooking] at dawn.”

Pork is one of the majority-Catholic country’s year-round staples, a taste introduced during 400 years as a Spanish colony – but consumption goes into overdrive for the holidays.

In La Loma, the roads and sidewalks are darkened and slippery in spots from the grease dripping from cooked pigs, which are hauled between roasting pits and sales stalls on hand carts.

Squealing, still muddy pigs arrive by the truck load, before being slaughtered and skewered on bamboo poles for cooking. They get a final dunking in seasoning before the roasting begins.

Over the next several hours they are slowly spun over the blazing coals by a mechanical crank system that is still turned by hand in many of the pits.

A whole roast pig, which weighs at least 15 kg, sells for about $150. That is a small fortune for many in the Philippines, where nearly a quarter of the country liveson less than $2 per day.

“We cannot afford to buy and eat lechon,” said Ayapana, the lechonero.

“We have to content ourselves with small bites.”

Yet many Filipinos splash out during the holidays, with buyers perusing the pigs displayed on their spits in the rows of lechon stalls in La Loma.

“When you tap it, it needs to sound crunchy, like this one,” said farm owner Isiah Elbore as he shopped.

“When it arrives home the skin is the first part to be eaten. It’s a tradition for us [to eat lechon],” he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10