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Confessions of a tour guide: It’s a pig of a job!




Recently, it seems no self-respecting stag party is complete without a pig

Running stag tours in the Philippines has led me to realise that whatever problems the country has, there are at least three things it has in abundance — beautiful woman, beautiful beaches and ladyboys (who aren’t always beautiful).

These three elements should provide a pretty solid bedrock for the perfect bachelor party, so it always surprises me that so many of our clients are determined to book a pig for the night.

By this, I don’t mean a figurative pig — as in a larger, unattractive lady — or a well-roasted source of lechon, but an actual, living, oinking, shitting pig.

You may ask “why would anyone want a pig to join them on a stag tour?”, to which I would reply “great question”. It seems the general idea is that the groom gets handcuffed to the animal and endless hilarity ensues. But it’s a bit more complicated than that, as I’ll discuss later.

But first, how do you buy a baby pig? In the provinces every second house has a pig for sale, but if we’re running an event in Manila or another city it’s quite a challenge. We have to travel at least an hour out of the city (more, when there’s traffic), find a pig for sale and then travel back with it.

Pigs aren’t always the most confident of travellers, and liable to manifest their nerves through their bowels. We do our best to keep them calm and happy, but accidents will happen.

So! What about the logistics of actually taking a pig out on the town for a stag party? People who don’t live in the Philippines, or any other less-than-developed country, tend to think that anything goes. Well, it doesn’t — and you’d be hard pressed to find a bar that welcomes livestock through its doors.

This means finding a way to keep the pig safe and happy outside our chosen venues.

Perhaps not surprisingly, for such a simple unskilled task it’s never difficult to find somebody willing to earn a few hundred pesos.

In Angeles we always seek out our friend Martin. If you’re familiar with Fields Avenue, you will have seen him with his withered legs pulling himself along on a skateboard. Not only is he a highly intelligent man and one of life’s true gentlemen, he’s also what could be termed “a pig whisperer”. No sooner does he take charge of the porker than it curls up on his lap and falls fast asleep. He also has a knack to get the pig to tow him along, sometimes at astonishing speed.

Then, after the night is over, we find ourselves stuck with a pig, which invariably ends up sleeping (and shitting) in one of our houses.

But it’s not too much of a problem, there’s always somebody planning a wedding or big family event we’re happy to help out. It’s always bitter-sweet — it’s difficult not to get attached to the little chaps. As Winston Churchill once said: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. But pigs treat us as equals.”

It would be nice to think there’s a place for pigs to go (like that “mouse city” they tell the French dude about in The Green Mile) but let’s be realistic — in the Philippines the best a pig can hope for is a decent length of time of being fattened up before transubstantiating into the glory of lechon.

Ahh, lechon. That culinary pinnacle of the Philippines — the only place in the world where people salivate rather than giggle when they hear the phrase “spit roast”.

That is what you should order a pig for, and not for a bar crawl. But, having said that, with our hard-won experience of porcine management, we’ll never refuse a client a piggy-wig, if they’re really sure it’s what they need to make their night special.

Ben Johnson is a party organiser with GNTours.