Monday, March 26, 2012

Revisiting The Bow Wow Fest- St. Louis Expo 1904

Filipinos As Dogeaters

"Bow-Wow Fest"

The Igorots actually earned the label "dogeaters" in a quasi global stage when a group of them was presented in a pavilion  in the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in Missouri.  Like a giant "Terrarium",  visitors were treated to the live spectacle of dog butchering and dog eating that some fanciful US writers would then call this dog eating display as the "Bow-Wow Fest". There were protest in some sectors of  the American public but there were also "show entrepreneurs" who wanted the spectacle to go on, so they did their best to supply the Igorots with live dogs. There is also this urban legend which says that the popular American food, sausage in a bun, was actually an offshoot of what happened in the Philippine pavilion in the St. Louis Expo. Dog eating became such a novelty there that enterprising individuals began calling their frankfurter and wienerli in a bun as; "Hotdogs".

Igorots butchering a dog at the Philippine Reservation. St. Louis Exposition 1904.

"Bow-Wow Feast"- Dog eating live just a few steps from the audience.

Dog Market

The "bow-wow" fest became a huge draw in St. Louis that the following expositions in other countries featured a repeat performance of Igorots with their canine cuisine,  further sealing that time their global reputation as "dogeaters". Subsequently, to American officials and visitors to the Philippines, an itinerary  would not be complete without a sojourn in the Mountain Province to see the Igorots and of course this dog eating stunts. Articles and photos were published describing them  and their customs. As always,  it was highlighted by this reputation they earned in St. Louis. One photo even showed a dog market in Baguio City. An enterprising company even put the image of Igorots butchering a dog in the post cards they print and sell.

Almost like an advertisement.

                       Philippine post card featuring Ifugaos butchering a dog.

Animal sacrifice?

Present day Igorots claim otherwise. Dogs are only use as sacrificial animal, for such ceremonies as to evade death and to remove bad luck. Igorots don't feast when they kill a dog. On the contrary they mourn in sending a beloved pet as sacrifice to the other realm,  to save the life of a sick family member who is near death.

Yet the truth holds: There are some people in the Philippines who really have this strange preference to dog meat. Most dog butchering happens for the purpose of a drinking feast. And  such feast will not be complete without the favorite "pulutan" (side dish eaten while drinking alcohol or beverages) To many pulutan is synonymous to dog meat prepared as "caldereta" , "bopis" or  "kilawin".

Pointing Game

Finger pointing? Yes of course. The country is made up of many linguistic and cultural groups with distinct customs and traditions, not to mention cuisine and culinary styles etc. The Tagalogs for example points at the Kapangpangans (Pampanga) as true blue dogeaters, while some accuses the Bisayan  etc.

 I don't have the numbers but dog eating is still prevalent around the country specially in the rural areas and the lowly villages. Slaughtering of dogs in the Philippines is illegal.


Official  daily program of the 1904 fair

The souvenir program of the Philippine Reservation at the St Louis Fair.

 Ifugaos with their dogs. Post card said to be popular among tourist in the Philippines in the 1900's.

Photo done in bad taste,  definitely just to stir curiosity.

Another photo of an alleged "Ifugao dog Market"


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