Halad Inasal Festival is the annual cultural and food festival and religious fiesta in the city of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines every October 15. It gives the limelight to lechon (roasted pig) of which the city is renowned for and coincides with the patronal feast of St. Therese of Avila.
Another yearly celebration called Charter Day of the City of Talisay is held every January 12.
Halad Inasal Festival is one of the cultural festivals that participates in Pasigarbo sa Sugbo.
The festival’s name come from local words halad that means offer and inasal means something roasted. The root word asal is the act of grilling any whole animals over hot embers, and inasal has quickly come to refer to roasted whole pig which is otherwise known nationwide as lechong baboy and shortened to lechon.
Thus, Halad Inasala means An Offering of Roasted Whole Pig.
Lechon in Talisay City, Cebu
According to GMA News, the island of Cebu is known for its delectable take on the perrenial Filipino favorite lechon that has “… crunchy skin, tender meat, delicious flavors that don’t need sauce. Cebu lechon (sic) to die for.”
Although lechon is of Spanish influence, it was during the American period that Cebu lechon rose in prominence in Philippine cuisine. As the commercialization of the dish took hold in the 1920s, the first few expert cooks (called lechoneros) hailed from Talisay.
The skewered pig was stuffed with indigenous herbs and cooked for hours, bringing out new flavors in its meat and elevating the recipe. The eponymous Mila’s Lechon is said to be the pioneer in perfecting this technique, which is credited to Mila Candeja Garces. Its brand has since evolved to become known as Ruthy’s Lechon that continues to serve and preserve the matriarch’s legacy of this pre-war recipe.
Since then, Cebu lechon evolved through the years. The city of Carcar for instance is known for their unique interpretation of the lechon which is accompanied with a special sauce made from the drippings during the roasting process, while the northwestern town of Balamban for the liempo, a cut in the abdominal portion of the roasted pig that is also called lechon belly.
History of Halad Inasal Festival
With the rise of food-themed festivals in the country and as towns chose lechon as the centerpiece of their yearly celebrations, the city of Talisay launched Halad Inasal Festival to bring its lechon front and center in the island’s cultural and culinary scene.
Earlier celebrations saw the parade of lechon in the streets (similar to but less tongue-in-cheek version of Lechon Festival in Balayan, Batangas), although subsequent observances have toned down such display with less number of lechon in the parade and the use of styrofoam in the shape of the roasted pig.
History of the devotion to St. Therese of Avila
Halad Inasal is also a devotional, religious experience as it is held in conjunction with the feast day of St. Therese of Avila, the patroness of the city. St. Therese of Avila or Santa Teresa de Avila was a nun of the Carmelite order and, together with St. John of the Cross, the founder of the Discalced Carmelites.
While the church in Talisay, known as the Archdiocesan Shrine of Santa Teresa de Avila and Santa Teresa de Avila Parish Church, is a 19th-century, colonial-era church, the devotion to the saint goes as far back as the 17th century when Talisay was a parcel of the vast estate owned by the Augustinians. It was a visita of the parish of San Nicolas in Cebu City.
Sugar boom in the 19th century brought prosperity and population grew. A church made of stone was built in 1836 and Talisay was organized as a pueblo in 1849. The church was damaged from a typhoon in 1877 and repaired in 1880.
Halad Inasal Festival Activities
The novena prayers and masses occur for nine days leading up to the feast day at the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Therese of Avila. A high mass and procession are held on October 15.
Meanwhile, secular activities are organized by the city government. Halad Inasal Festival features concerts, street dance, parade, festival queen competition, ritual showdown, and other activities participated by contingents representing different schools and barangay units.
How to reach Talisay City, Cebu
Book a flight to Mactan International Airport. Taxi cabs and regular bus trips are available that can take you to Talisay City, which is about an hour or so depending on traffic.
- Carmel Loise Matus. Talisaynons mark fiesta with gusto and lechon. Cebu Daily News. October 16, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2023
- Bigger ‘Halad Inasal’ fest: Talisay. SunStar Cebu. October 12, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2023
- Rosalie Abatayo. Halad Inasal Festival : Bringing back ‘best lechon’ brand to Talisay. Cebu Daily News. October 14, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2023
- A brief history of the yummy Cebu lechon. GMA News Online. December 15, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2023
- Talisay Church. Filipinas Heritage Library. Retrieved January 29, 2023