Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur- In the Philippines, lechon is prepared throughout the year during special occasions, festivals and the holidays. But in Sitio Tubalina, Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur, native folks here butcher pig and feast on lechon even on ordinary days. This is because almost every household in the area raises native (organically raised) pigs.

In a short visit made by a team from the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office I (DA-RFO I) to document the area and the said major livelihood of the locality, Engr. Eduardo Gonzales, DA-RFO I RTD for Research & Regulation, together with representatives from the Livestock Banner Program represented by Dr. Larina Zabala and from the Information Section with Ms. Gloria C. Parong, were welcomed and accompanied by Del Pilar Mayor Luz Villalobos during the visit.

Unlike the usual piggery farms located in municipalities where transportation is not a problem and raisers have easy access to public markets to market their produce, the native pigs in Sitio Tubalina which is a remote area, are often just raised for the raiser’s own consumption or marketed from within the barangay.

The pigs, though have different owners, are housed in a single mountain just beside the residential area and are separated by either makeshift stone fences or a small cave in the mountain. About 150 heads of pigs separately owned by residents have one common area of feeding. Though they are somehow mixed with the others, during feeding, each owner are able to feed their own stocks without being bothered by other pigs owned by other residents as the animals somehow recognize their owner’s voice when they are called to be fed.

Based on queries made from the Livestock Technician who was around during the visit, most common problem of the raisers is the high mortality rate of the animals especially during rainy season since they do not have proper housing. In fact in 2009, there was a reported outbreak in the area on Porcine Respiratory Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS) that drastically reduced the number of stocks of the owners. There were also cases of cannibalism due to overcrowding.

Initial intervention which has already been provided by DA in the area is the provision of drugs and biologics to lessen the occurrence of outbreak and strengthen the immune system of the animals against other diseases.

Intent on further evaluating needed interventions for the raisers aside from the initial support provided, the DA intends to provide trainings to the raisers on organic feed mixing, have proper housing for the animals and help the raisers in the market promotion of their livestock either as stock for production purposes of other organic livestock raisers in the region or as meat supply.

Mayor Villalobos also sought the assistance of DA in providing other livelihood assistance for the residents like the provision of vegetable seeds and fruit bearing tree seedlings to further increase the income opportunity of the people.

With around 5,000 population, consist of seven(7) barangays and five (5) sitios, the Municipality of Del Pilar, Ilocos Sur is an ideal site for organic production of other crops like fruits and vegetables.