The Tagbilaran Fiesta Carnival in Bohol

Tagbilaran Fiesta & Carnival: Craziness in Bohol



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Fiestas are a huge annual event for every community in the Philippines. The timing of the fiesta varies according to the patron saint of each city, town, and village, but they all have a few qualities in common. First, you’ll find that the ads about pork being the “other white meat” didn’t run over here; the centerpiece of every household fiesta is a cooked pig (called a lechon) the color of a candy apple with a crackling brown skin. Because the pig is the guest of honor during fiesta time, the early morning hours of fiesta day are pierced by the screeching cries of pigs being slaughtered for the occasion. I had the opportunity to visit the Ramos family house during the Tagbilaran fiesta this May, here’s the story of that trip.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    At sunrise, the Ramos family prepared the lechon pig for the roasting, it was raised especially for the occasion.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Usually during fiesta it is customary to visit several houses, so after having fiesta at the Ramos' house, we went to fiesta at Kathleen Campbell's host family house. To get there, we had to pile in to this jeepney packed like lechons ourselves.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Kathleen's host family lives on the water, and the sunset at the end of fiesta day in Tagbilaran was a good one.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    After the fiesta we went to the Tagbilaran carnival. I really wish I had stopped to see the El Pinoy Spellbound show.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Some things like a carousel are standard for carnivals all over the world.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    So is getting ripped off by games to win junky stuff. Here I'm hurling a ball uselessly at an armored stack of blocks while trying to win something I don't really want. It turned out that the blocks were held down by magnets, so much for having a chance to win.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Popcorn was five pesos a bag (nine cents).

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Kids start gambling early here.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    I think this might have been the most rickety ferris wheel I've ever seen, and the carny running it was even scarier than the ones in America.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The "Stunt from Bangkok Thailand" show was the highlight for me. That grim reaper painted on the side of the sign isn't just for dramatic effect, the possibility of a disaster was hanging by a few splinters and creaky seams in this rickety cylinder. While the crowd watched from the narrow walkway around the edge, the Bangkok Thailand daredevil rode a motorcycle as fast as he could around the wall of the cylinder. From the outside it was rocking back and forth like a bucket full of crazed chimps chasing each other around inside.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The Ramos family hosted Daniel Simon during our Peace Corps training. The sack of rice under Daniel's foot weighs about 60 pounds and was cooked for all the visitors who came to the Ramos' house for fiesta.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    When the Bangkok Thailand daredevil finally wobbled out still dizzy from the last performance fifteen minutes earlier he flashed the "I'm #1" sign and dramatically kick started his hog.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The sound from the motorcycle was deafening in the small space of the round room, like trash can full of firecrackers going off under your pillow. The Bangkok Thailand daredevil was going so fast he blurred out like an impressionist painting on wall of the cylinder.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    I snapped this shot right as the Bangkok Thailand daredevil passed below my perch on the walkway, and the bike spun perpendicular to the walls perilously.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Ten minutes into the show, the Bangkok Thailand daredevil was showing no signs of dizziness and terrified the crowd by driving close to the edge of the cylinder. Meanwhile, a rooster placidly pecked away at the dirt floor of the cylinder. I'm still not sure whether the rooster was a prop for dramatic effect or whether he just wandered inside the show.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Finally the chainsaw buzzing of the motorcycle engine quieted and the Bangkok Thailand daredevil coasted to a shaky stop. I posed with him during his fifteen minute break between shows, and when I left the cylinder I said the only thai word that I can still remember from my trip to Thailand in 2001. Korp kun krap: thank you

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Aside from the lechon and tons of food, fiesta also about having a few drinks with friends and family. These guys are participating in a social drinking circle.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The main dining table in the kitchen was the center of the fiesta universe at the Ramos house. For the entire weekend, it was always full of freshly prepared food.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The lechon is served! This pig was roasted all morning over an open fire on a bamboo spit while stuffed with a secret mixture of herbs to bring out the roast pig flavor. The skin is the most popular part, and it cracks off in caramel colored shards.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Everyone wants to be first in line for the pickin's on the lechon as the most prized parts are quickly gleaned away by the fiesta goers.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    But latecomers don't need to worry, the lechon is not all there is to eat. Dishes made from literally every part of the pig fill the table for everyone to eat.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    Once the skin was picked off the lechon pig, the roast meat underneath filled the plates. It's a pretty tough place to be a vegetarian, and if you come to a house during fiesta and don't eat anything it is considered an insult.

  • Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004

    Tagbilaran Fiesta and Fair - May 2004
    The main street of Tagbilaran, Carlos P. Garcia Avenue was festooned with San Miguel beer ribbons and flags. The streets were empty because everyone in town was too full to move.