Davao trader pushes ‘crocodile lechon’ as new Pinoy exotic dish


07:53 PM October 13th, 2011

By: Judy Quiros, October 13th, 2011 07:53 PM

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Filipino’s penchant for anything roasted—which gave success to the likes of Andok’s chicken and Mila’s lechon (roasted whole pig)—has made a businessman here think about further exploiting it.

But this time, Philip Dizon wanted to commercially roast something much bigger—crocodiles.

Before conservationists could cry foul, however, Dizon, who owns the Davao Crocodile Park in Barangay Maa here, said the crocodile species he would be roasting for sale to tourists and locals were not the endangered ones even if they belong to the same class as Lolong’s, the one-ton reptile recently captured in Agusan del Sur.

The reptiles will be coming from the park’s breeding venture and belong to the Crocodylus porosus, a kind of saltwater crocodile endemic to the Indo-Pacific region, Dizon said.

Lolong also belongs to the same species, which is known in some countries as estuarine crocodiles.

“They are not endangered, they are endemic,” he said.

Dizon said his plan would further put Davao City on the world’s tourism map.

But then, it was more than just that, he admitted.

Dizon said he foresees that the “crocodile lechon” would become a hit among food lovers.

As to the acceptability of crocodile lechon, Dizon said he tested it on Sunday when he roasted a reptile in his farm.

“To my surprise, many visitors liked it,” he said.

Dizon said that already, phone calls have been flooding his office, with people asking when they could probably taste another serving of crocodile lechon.

He said his reply was that crocodile lechons will be served on Oct. 30, during an occasion he wanted to call “Croctoberfest.”

During that time, food enthusiasts and those just wanting to taste crocodile lechon out of curiosity will not be paying a centavo.

“It would be free,” Dizon said.

But after that, Dizon said people who wanted to partake of lechon crocodile will have to pay already.

He said his company will soon be accepting orders for lechon crocodiles during special occasions.

As to how much per order, he still could not say.

Dizon said crocodile meat is sought after in many countries and “one of the most expensive in the world.”

In fact, in Australia, there is a shortage of crocodile meat that Australians have to import reptiles from Malaysia, Dizon said.

Dizon said that while the roasted reptile can be enjoyed by food lovers, his company will also be cashing in on its hide.

He said the hide is a lucrative export product.

A piece of raw hide fetches about $600 and can be turned into bags in the category of Hermes and Louis Vuitton, Dizon said.

He said the exportation of crocodile hide could start in three to four years.

“There is high demand from the fashion sector,” Dizon said, adding that the supply of raw crocodile hide could not cope up, too.

In his farm here, Dizon said they produce about 200 hatchlings annually but should supply not be enough when the lechon crocodile becomes a hit, he would have to buy reptiles from somewhere else.

He said he could buy from other crocodile farms if local supply dwindles.

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