WANDERLUST | Stunning landscapes, colorful festival and unlimited lechon in Kapatagan

It seems that the universe conspired to have us in the right place at the right time even though we were there for a totally different reason.

Our trip to Kapatagan in Digos City last June 19 was actually for a photo shoot of a coffee farm. As the trip was a bit off-the-cuff, we were delighted to find out on our way to Kapatagan that the famous barangay was actually celebrating its 15th Durung Festival, and as luck would have it, we were on the very day of the 4th Lechonan ug Kumbira sa Kapatagan revelry.

As for someone who can’t say “no” to lechon, we decided to enjoy the “kumbira” (feast) of lechon first as soon as we set foot on Davao del Sur’s summer capital. We were pretty sure that the farm won’t go away but the lechon – with its flame red colored, crunchy skin – won’t last that long.

Kapatagan’s Lechonan ug Kumbira is an annual event where all its 54 purok (zone) participate in a pig roasting contest where all the grilling is done along the streets of the barangay proper. So, just imagine rows and rows of lechon, chargrilled to porcine perfection in this town 9,603 feet above sea level with the spectacular backdrop of Mt Apo.

The 46th Araw ng Kapatagan and 15th Durung Festival is celebrated every June 14 to 19.

“Durung is actually a Bagobo term that means “thanksgiving for bountiful harvest.”

“It is around this time when our produce are abundant and ready for reaping,” said Richard Garcia Martinez of Dungog sa Kapatagan, a non-government organization that aims to uplift the socio-economic status of the community and bring sustainable changes through promotion of local tourism, agriculture and environmental preservation.

According to Martinez, the celebration opened last June 14 with “Adlaw sa mga Lumad,” a day where they honor the indigenous groups who originally occupied the foothills of Mt Apo. The Bagobo-Tagabawa are the original settlers of the land.

“The culmination of the events is today (June 19) when we celebrate the exact date when Kapatagan officially became a barangay,” he added.

Likened to a combination of Baguio City and Benguet for its cool climate and rich, fertile soil, Kapatagan has become not just a summer destination in Davao del Sur but a must-see place in the entire Davao Region.

It is also popular with local tourists for its many attractions, such as Lake Mirror, Lake Rosario, Davao artist Kublai’s Art Garden, Virgin and Tudaya Falls, Camp Sabros, Marawer cold and hot springs, civet coffee, Mt Apo Highlands, as well as its fresh vegetables sold at rock-bargain prices in the town’s public market.

“In order to encourage every citizen in Kapatagan to celebrate the founding anniversary, the local barangay under the leadership of barangay captain Juanito Morales established the Durung Festival in 2002. To make it more festive, a local pageant is held every year, along with cultural and environmental activities. Four years ago, Kapatagan started the Lechonan ug Kumbira sa Kapatagan to lure, not just the locals, but also tourists to partake in our celebration,” Garcia said.

Of course, no one can say no to an invitation to partake in their lechon madness. Aside from being free, you can even do second, third or even fourth helping, and nobody would mind. It’s unlimited lechon for everyone, and there’s just more than enough roasted pig to feed every hungry visitor in that tiny town.

Trivia: While we got the word “lechon” from the Spanish (meaning “roasted suckling pig), it was actually the Chinese and Romans who first developed recipes for roasted suckling pigs. Apparently, both started domesticating pigs earlier than the other civilizations in the planet back in the day.

Kapatagan, one of Digos City’s largest barangays, is just an hour away from the poblacion.  Jeepneys, vans and habal-habal (motorcycles) are available from town and will take you to Kapatagan.

Posted in Lifestyle