Would You Eat This ‘Louis Vuitton’ Lechon?

What about a roasted pig with tiger stripes?
Lechon customized designed superhero tiger Filipino food Cebu.
Superhero, designer, and animal prints on lechon. Collage: VICE / Images: Courtesy of Alleya Batucan

Lechon, a whole roasted pig, is a Filipino party centerpiece. The late Anthony Bourdain once called it “the best pig ever” for its fatty yet crisp skin. Now, a rotisserie in Danao, Cebu in the Philippines is adding a new flare to the iconic dish by dressing the hogs in quirky designs. Animal stripes, superhero costumes, and luxury brand monograms—they’ve got it all. 


3A’S Letchon, which operates from a small spot at a public slaughterhouse near the local wet market, has been roasting pigs since 2011. “But we’re only getting noticed now,” owner Alleya Batucan told VICE.

Batucan used to sell her lechon by hawking it around nearby villages and fiestas, but that stopped last year when the pandemic hit. Large gatherings like baptisms, weddings, and birthdays that usually include lechon in the spread have dwindled, too. Mostly confined to her shop with barely any customers, Batucan got creative.

She started by painting her lechon entirely black using a mix of squid ink and lechon sauce. Batucan explained that the lechon sauce masks the fishy taste of squid ink, and most people probably won’t be able to tell the difference from regular lechon. 

But it was not an instant hit. People didn’t seem to like the all-black lechon. “They thought it looked gross,” Batucan said.

However, after seeing that she could paint on the roasted pigs, some customers asked if she could write messages instead. That’s how she ended up with lechon that had “Happy Wedding” and “Congratulations” painted on them. 

But Batucan had wilder ideas, and luckily for her, the requisite talent ran in the family.

“My mom, she likes to draw. She draws the celebrities on TV,” Batucan said. “And my sisters are good with paint and letters.”


“Me, I’m good with pigs,” she said, so she just put the family’s talents together.

Lechon customized designed superhero tiger Filipino food Cebu.

Some of 3A’s Letchon’s designs are inspired by wild animals. Photo: Courtesy of Alleya Batucan

That’s when they started “costumizing” (a play on the words costume and customizing) lechon with cheetah and tiger patterns.

“I’ve always wanted to go to the Safari,” she said, referring to a safari-type park in Cebu. “But the entrance fee is expensive, so I just thought of painting the [patterns of the] animals.”

Not to be limited by the animal kingdom, Batucan started taking her pigs to fictional universes.

Photos of a Spider-Man-inspired roast pig that 3A'S Lechon posted on Facebook with “Spider chon” in the caption swung around local social media news feeds, getting around 1,000 shares, hundreds of likes, and some cheeky comments. One said “Peter Porker,” while others had GIFs of Spider Pig from The Simpsons Movie.

Lechon customized designed superhero tiger Filipino food Cebu.

The patterns on these roasted pigs are hand painted with a mixture of squid ink and lechon sauce. Photo: Courtesy of Alleya Batucan 

Batucan said that when she gets orders for painted lechon, she asks customers if their parties have themes, so the roast pig can suit up appropriately.  

Lechon customized designed superhero tiger Filipino food Cebu.

This one’s cheeky. Photo: Courtesy of Alleya Batucan 

Nowadays, Batucan sends lechon all the way to the capital Manila by plane.

“I haven’t even been to Manila,” she said. “But at least my pigs have.”

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