Pahiyas: A Very Filipino Festival

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May 16th 2011
Published: May 16th 2011
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Very Colorful Homes!Very Colorful Homes!Very Colorful Homes!

Those buntings are made of "kiping", which are made from "galapong" or ground rice. They are edible!
Every May 15th, the residents of Lucban, Quezon celebrate the Pahiyas (meaning "decor") Festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Thin rice wafers locally called "kiping" are made in varying colors and shaped like leaves to decorate the facades of houses along with farm harvests such as tomatoes, stringbeans, pineapples, cucumbers, sayote, coconuts, ferns, as well as agriculture-based products such as ropes, hats, bags, etc. Kipings come in festive colors like yellow, pink, red, orange and green. Creativity flourishes in this part of the country, especially during this one-day festival celebration in thanksgiving for bountiful harvests. Amazing how local folks are able to create chandeliers called 'aranyas' made of kiping and how one's family endeavor to work together to showcase the fruits of their harvests.

Pahiyas is a very Filipino festival , having began as a simple offering to the “anito” (pagan god) to invoke a bountiful harvest. Subsequently and over a century later, the Christianized Filipinos integrated these local practices with the Catholic faith, bringing their harvests to the Church for the priests to bless. Presently, many tourists and locals flock to this farming town by the slopes of Mount Banahaw, to celebrate
Care to Wear this Gown?Care to Wear this Gown?Care to Wear this Gown?

Made from the "leaves" or peelings of banana hearts, dried and glued together. How creative!
the Pahiyas every May 15 with the locals.

The 3 Hour Southbound Trip To Lucban

Even after a good night's rest, I still feel so tired after yesterday's Pahiyas Festival. Been wanting and planning to do this trip each year for the last decade or so, but never got to go till yesterday. So there I was, uncomplaining, even if it meant waking up at 2 am. Come to think of it, 'waking up' is not exactly the appropriate term . Knowing I had to meet with my group at Starbucks in 6750 Makati and leave at exactly 3 am, I was so afraid to doze off and miss my tour. I once looked at my alarm clock the night before, set at 2am, and thought there's still a chance to manage 3 hours of sleep. Guess what. I kept looking at that watch every 20 minutes or so till it was time. 😞

On our way to Lucban, we had to make an unscheduled stop to check this whacking noise under the bus. It disturbed me so that I failed to catch up on my sleep on the 3 hour drive. Just the same, we reached Lucban around 6:30am just when the bands were starting to get ready to march. Early enough to be allowed to park nearer town, it was an easy walk to Cafe San Luis where we partook of a breakfast of Lucban Longganiza (local sausage), scrambled egg, tinapa (smoked fish) and garlic rice. I would have wanted my egg sunny side up and another piece of the tinapa, but it was too early to complain. Lol. :-)

The Town is Bursting With Colors!

After breakfast, I found a small group to walk around with. We took to the main street and headed for the Church, then easily found ourselves along streets with colourful Pahiyas decorations. My first time. And even after breakfast, I was thinking "Pancit HabHab (a local noodle dish), Hardinera ( a local meat loaf), and more Lucban Longganiza". I have to admit I remember a better-tasting, more crisply-fried (with minced pork bursting through the skins) lucban longganiza than the ones I had for breakfast. But that's fine. Just walking along these streets, you get enough longganizas to smell like one.

Some bigger houses or buildings were more extravagantly decorated. One building even had an interactive element where tourists can don the "anok" or scarecrow cape and scale the ladder. Another had strings of ropes or rice grains glued to ropes in festive colors hanging from the balconies, while the simpler ones were just as intricately decorated with farm harvests. I particularly liked one where a simple "parol" or star lantern was designed using tomatoes, cucumbers and stringbeans. The local folks open up their houses to visitors and strangers. You can find some of these tourists posing for photos from the balconies of these houses, as the residents are busy preparing their snack offerings. If you are lucky, you may even be invited to sample their meals and snacks.

How nice that the people of Lucban preserved this tradition all through the years. A family effort, they say, to showcase what each family's livelihood is. A way of offering thanks for their blessings. I will not even bother to complicate the reason for this festival --- it is simply, a celebration of gratitude for their blessings.

The only drawback here is the thick crowd and the heat which threatened to burn our shirts off our skins. If
Guess What Their Business Is?Guess What Their Business Is?Guess What Their Business Is?

Houses are decorated with the fruits of the family's harvests --- be they vegetables, fruits, hats, wine, or whatever else they earn from as a livelihood.
I were a sleep-starved, sweating zombie yesterday, I am an old hag today feeling every year of my age. A full day to "recover". I was out yesterday a full 20 hours. Too long for a day trip. Next time, I should go a day earlier, perhaps check out how the local folks string up those tomatoes, bananas and pineapples to decorate the fronts of their houses in all those lively colors. Then, coming back in the morning of the festival to check how the same houses have been transformed in time for the festival. Yes, that would be interesting. The "production stage" prior to the stage play. Next time. 😊

How To Get There

From Manila, take any of the regular commercial buses plying the 3 hourManila-Lucena route. Bus terminals are located along EDSA-Kamuning in Quezon City, Araneta Center in Cubao, Buendia-Taft Avenues and EDSA in Pasay City.

From Lucena: Upon arrival in Lucena Grand Central Terminal, take a Lucban bound jeep or mini bus. It’s just a 45 minute ride.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Lambanog:  Filipino WineLambanog:  Filipino Wine
Lambanog: Filipino Wine

This is our local wine. If the Japanese have sake (rice wine), the Philippines has the very potent Lambanog, a coconut wine. And take me seriously when I say potent.

Kiping , from "galapong" or ground rice, is used to decorate many of the houses here in Lucban. Food colorings make them more festive. And they are edible too!

Yes, they make capes used to make scarecrows, locally known as "Anok". I like this "interactive" house where tourists can don the "anoks" and climb up a ladder.
Local Sausages from LucbanLocal Sausages from Lucban
Local Sausages from Lucban

Longganiza is our local sausages, and the ones from Lucban are quite famous along with those from Northern Philippines' Vigan Longganiza.
Street FoodStreet Food
Street Food

Don't miss Pancit Habhab (fried noodles sprinkled with vinegar and eaten WITHOUT fork) served on banana leaves, the hardinera which is some kind of meat loaf, and of course the "kiping" crackers. There are also boiled corn, coconut meat+juice, suman (glutinuous rice), etc.
For SaleFor Sale
For Sale

Coconuts, local fern, suman for sale off the streets of Lucban, Quezon.
Leaving Manila at 3amLeaving Manila at 3am
Leaving Manila at 3am

Our bus was decorated with "kiping" in keeping (doesn't that rhyme? lol) with the theme of the Pahiyas Festival.
Never too late!Never too late!
Never too late!

We found this man busy decorating the upper floor of this house. Never too late, indeed.

16th May 2011

Very Colorful Indeed ! :)
Another nice blog. Cheers ! ;>
17th May 2011

In deepest gratitude
Those were wonderful 20 hours spent with you and the rest of the Pahiyas Ultimate Tour 2011 batch. Thank you for writing our story :)
17th May 2011

colors of our tradition- to be cherished by every generations!
thanks. very nice and colorful photos u captured...minus the cool breeze in Lucban, yours have taken us to be there, almost really there... wish this colorful, yet meaningful tradition will go on to be enjoyed by all generations.not just the Filipino, but also with our neighbors in the region.
18th May 2011

I love to go to festivals.
You really captured the feel of this festival with those colorful photos. I love the pile of corn! The flags against the sky background is very nice also. Plus you look great for having lack of sleep.

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