Briones: Carcar’s lechon: A victim of its own success?

You know how in Cebu people get very serious about their lechon when even the mayor of a local government unit gets in the thick of things to salvage what is left of his city’s reputation after getting a bad rap from some netizens.

No, I’m not talking about Michael Rama and his Singapore-like vision for Cebu City although I know our Southeast Asian neighbor prides itself in its varied culinary offerings so maybe Rama should be too and start promoting the siomai of Tisa, the larang of Pasil, the ngohiong of Junquera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Nor am I referring to that young chief executive of Talisay City which many Cebuanos have long associated with the roasted pig.

It’s actually Mayor Patrick Barcenas of Carcar City in southern Cebu, which used to garner praises from local and foreign tourists for its super crunchilicious and savory lechon.

Barcenas called lechon vendors to a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, to discuss a very serious problem.

“My number one instruction to them is to preserve the quality of the lechon,” he told them in Cebuano. Because who wants to drive more than one hour and a half only to be served unsold leftovers, right?

And I bet majority of the critics are locals because who else would know they were not eating freshly roasted pig and that they were being served “bahaw”? Who else would have that discerning taste?

It’s not like Carcar has plenty of other attractions to offer visitors. Sure it also has the “bocayo,” banana chips, “ampaw” and “chicharon,” but people don’t plan an outing for these delectables.

In fairness to Carcar’s lechon vendors, they may not have had a choice.

Only a few can afford the price of lechon nowadays.

People from the metro used to go out of their way to buy their lechon there because, not only was it delicious, but it was also much cheaper. But that’s not the case anymore.

So why go through all the inconvenience? Plus, it’s so expensive to get there if you’re driving.

Understandably business must have slowed down. That’s probably why lechon vendors in Carcar’s public market have been forced to fight over customers. Their demeanor has become so overbearing that it has turned off some potential buyers.

Which is why Mayor Barcenas also warned them to stop the practice.

From now on, only two people will be assigned to each stall: one to accept payment and hand out change and the other to chop up the lechon and pack it. They can take turns calling out to customers but no more of the accosting stuff.

Perhaps if the vendors implement these minor tweaks money will start rolling in once the economy improves.

Or perhaps there are just too many of them roasting too many pigs.