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AP Photo/Aaron Favila
I smell lechon.

A Philippine governor offered free roasted pork to lure typhoon evacuees away from dangerous areas

Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Roaring winds, torrential rains and massive flooding ruined Christmas day celebrations in eastern Philippines. Super Typhoon Nock-ten (locally referred to as Typhoon Nina) struck the Bicol region on Dec. 25, endangering almost a million people in surrounding coastal provinces.

To tempt residents away from their holiday-decorated homes and into evacuation centers, one young governor had a festive idea: Offer roasted suckling pig, called lechon. On Christmas Eve, Camarines Sur governor Miguel Villafuerte tweeted: “I know it’s Christmas…but this is a legit typhoon. Please evacuate, there will be free lechon at evacuation centers,” wrote the 27-year old.

Lechon is a staple of many Filipino celebrations—and a luxury for some poverty-stricken families. Villafuerte told regional newspaper Politiko Bicol that he realized that the typhoon would make landfall just around when families were cooking their traditional Christmas meals and that his goal was to convince tens of thousands to move the Christmas feasting to safe zones.

Over 180,000 heeded the governor’s call to safety, with many queuing for a plateful of the pig’s perfectly caramelized skin and tender meat.

Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Super Typhoon Nock-ten’s path of destruction.
Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Christmas catastrophe.
EPA/Francis R. Malasig

The most powerful Christmas Day tropical cyclone in 56 years, according to Colorado State University meteorologists, Nock-ten affected 11,000 holiday travelers and left six people dead in the Philippines.

Though government offices remain closed today, Villafuerte reported that his lechon stratagem seemed to have worked: There were no typhoon fatalities in his province.

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