Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pahiyas 2011: Quezon's Famous Flamboyant Festival

May 15 is the traditional date as liturgical feast for St. Isidore the Laborer (or the Farmer) or known in the Philippines as "San Isidro Labrador". He is considered as the Patron Saint of farmers, peasants, and day laborers. To know more about him, here's a wikipedia link.

There are many towns in the Philippines that give honor to him when this day comes every year. Lucban is one of those towns and they celebrate it as the famous "Pahiyas".

Lucban is an upland town in Quezon (southern Tagalog), about 150 miles southeast of Manila. Through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), it is 3-4 hours from Manila via Lucena, Legazpi, Batangas Exit, passing the towns of Sto. Tomas, Alaminos, San Pablo, Tiaong (my hometown), Candelaria, Sariaya, Lucena City, and Tayabas or 2-3 hours via Calamba, Los Banos, Pagsanjan exit, passing the towns of Calamba, Los Banos (where I spent my college years), Bay, Pila, Sta Cruz, Pagsanjan, Cavinti, and Lusiana. For the location map, refer to this link.

Pahiyas came from a Filipino word "hiyas", meaning jewel and the word itself, Pahiyas, means a precious offering, a decor, or a decoration. The people of Lucban celebrate this feast to give thanks to St Isidore for the good harvest and another fruitful years ahead. This festivity illustrates how Filipinos are very creative and artistic in terms of how they decorate their houses with their very own harvest, the kiping, their woven hats, bags, etc.

To experience this colorful celebration of my fellow Quezonian, we decided to be part of it this year. Mark and I rode an HM Transport bus at 4:30AM, We then reached Pagsawitan, Laguna where we rode a jeep going to Lucban. We passed by a zig-zag road. From the last stop of the jeepneys, we rode a tricycle but after a few minutes of no moving cars because of the traffic, we decided to walk until we reached the decorated and colorful houses. After more than an hour of walking and taking pictures, we reached the Church of Lucban. We attended the mass, and continue to explore and see the decorative houses of Lucban.

Lucban Church is one of the trademarks of the town. This has been built three times. First was ruined, second was damaged by fire, and the third one is the present church.

Outside of the Church: 
There are also candle vendors outside of the church.

 Inside of the Church:

The following are some of the decorations that the Lucban people had made for this year.

The kiping in different forms...

They had used their harvested fruits and vegetables as ornaments...
 A house covered with tomatoes...

 Their hats and abaniko fans...
 And other creative ideas...

"Kiping" is considered as the most important element of the celebration. It is a brightly-colored, leaf-shaped wafer made from a rice paste, which are beautifully ornamented to each of their house. This can also be eaten in grilled or fried.
 There are also houses that illustrated how to make the "kiping":
 One of them displayed the history of kiping.

Lucban is also famous with their "longganisang lucban"...
...and "pancit habhab" (a taste of noodles or pancit on a banana leaf eaten without using any utensils). We tried it by buying to one of the vendors but we failed to take a picture of it. We also tasted it from Maggi's free pancit habhab that they offered near the church.

 The town is also known with their woven hats, abaniko fans, and coin purses.

And other foods like puto-seko, meringue, broas. and others (which is also known to anywhere of Quezon).

When you are in Lucban, you should not miss to taste their very delicious pizza at the Ground Zero.

There are also floats and parade of beautiful ladies with their creative gowns, but we had not waited for that because we went home early. We still went to Tiaong after that and bonded with my family there. However, we saw Matt Evans and Sarah Lahbati (Philippine actor and actress) from the float of Coke. Honestly. I didn't know Sarah Lahbati, I still need to google who she is and found out that she is a GMA talent. I seldom watch TV and if I watch, we're tuned-in to ABS-CBN.

All in all, this is great experience for us, though it's too hot that time to this place. And this is what I can say:
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