Filipinos Ignore Pandemic to Get Roasted Pig on Holiday Tables

Filipinos aren’t letting the coronavirus pandemic prevent them from getting a roasted pig delicacy onto their dining tables during the holiday season despite a hit to the disposable incomes of many.

Some queued for hours and paid almost double for what a lechon — the roast pig that’s a staple in Philippine festivities and family celebrations — would regularly cost, according to a shop owner in Metro Manila’s La Loma district. A hog weighing about 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) would be about 5,500 pesos ($114) before the holidays, said Ariel Delos Reyes, the co-owner of Mang Tomas Native Lechon in La Loma.

Delos Reyes said he sold 400 roasted pigs on Dec. 31, about twice as many as a year earlier. Rachel Rafisura, a 30-year-old housewife, waited in line for two hours to buy a whole lechon for 10,000 pesos to serve on New Year’s Eve to maintain a family tradition since getting married seven years ago.

“The price has gone up a lot and times are bad, but my husband said we should continue with our tradition,” Rafisura said. It’s for “good luck and prosperity,” she said.

The size of the Philippine workforce fell to 43.6 million in October from 45.9 million in July, and Bloomberg surveys indicate the country probably had the highest jobless rate in Asia last year. Governmentestimates showed strict movement restrictions in early 2020 had cost Manila residents about 2.1 billion pesos in foregone daily wages, compared with about 700 million pesos under current softer quarantine measures in the capital.

“Lechon signifies financial capability – even if momentary,” said Randy David, a sociologist and a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines.

Almost 477,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the country, with deaths exceeding 9,200. Gatherings are capped at 10 people to contain infections.

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