Monday, March 26, 2012

Revisiting The Bow Wow Fest- St. Louis Expo 1904

The Filipino As Dogeaters

"Bow-Wow Fest"

Mention dog eating in the Philippines and one would be relayed to the Igorots of the Mountain Province. They actually earned the tittle "dogeaters" in a quasi global stage when a group of  them was presented in a pavilion  in the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in Missouri USA.  Like a giant "Terrarium" the visitors of the fair were treated to the spectacle of dog butchering and dog eating that some fanciful US writers would then call such dog eating show as the "Bow-Wow Feast".Of course 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 the 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.
The Baguio 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  or their visit 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 the Igorots 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. Indeed Igorots were exploited both in the US and then at home.

Almost like an advertisement.

Philippine post card featuring Ifugaos butchering a dog.
Sacrificial Animal?

Present day Igorots claims dog meat is not really part of their diet. Dogs are only use as sacrificial animal. Use in such ceremonies 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 to the other realm to save the life of a family member who is nearing death perhaps due to sickness.

 Pets As Pulutan?  

The truth is; there are some people in the Philippines who really have this strange preference to dog meat, specially the tomadors, and the lasenggos. Call them simply "village drunkard", a feast or a drinking session will not be complete without their 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 there is such a thing in the Philippines when you talk about this "hot" issue as dog eating. The country is made up of many linguistic groups with distinct customs and traditions, not to mention cuisine and culinary culture. The Tagalogs for example points at the Kapangpangans 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. ( barangays )


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 the so called "Ifugao dog Market"


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