|Christmas Eve with my cousins|
|My paternal grandmother: 1910 - 2004|
|Giving out candy bars to the pihit boys|
|Selling lechon by the kilo|
In the Philippines, lechon is a cultural tradition and marks celebrations and special occasions. It’s a luxury food for most people as a whole lechon can be quite expensive. The price depends on the size of the lechon ordered. My relatives also offer lechon by the kilo for those who can’t afford a whole pig and they sell by the kilo on Sundays and special occasions. Any lechon that doesn’t sell is then made into “paksiw” or lechon stewed in a sauce. Nothing ever gets wasted as they cannot afford the luxury of waste.
|Bags of rice to give away|
As part of our own Christmas giveaway, my dad gave out bags of rice and some money to the "pihit boys" who staff the family lechon business. They're mostly grown men rather than boys but some of them have been with our family a long time, and a few were even raised by my grandmother back when they were little more than boys, orphaned or very, very poor and taken in by her, helping in the business to earn their keep. Some she even sent to school in the hopes that they would aspire to being more than a pihit boy. "Pihit" refers to the act of turning the roasting pig over the coals until they were cooked, usually for at least 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the pig. Pihit boys do more than that, as you need them to kill the pig, clean it inside and out, stuff it with banana leaves, spear it with the pole, keep the coal fire going, roast it, take it off the fire when it was done, wrap in banana leaves and cardboard, deliver it and chop it up for serving. They have families to feed and for those with kids, we also gave them candy and crayons.