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Monday, May 17, 2010

At last, I made it to Pahiyas! -- The Grandeur of the Pahiyas Festival


At last I made it to Pahiyas! =) Finally, after several years of trying to schedule and plan a trip, I finally made it to the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon! Well, year after year, my friends and I have been planning to go to Pahiyas until, I think everyone lost interest already but me. So when I got the invitation from Ultimate Philippines, I finally grabbed the chance! So I would like to thank Ivan Man Dy, Tina Decal and Anton Diaz for this wonderful cultural experience! =)

And for this trip, the bonus was to realize, and also to see, the versions of nearby towns Sariaya and Tayabas, which happen to celebrate the San Isidro Labrador Festival as well. ‘But since those are major and important occasions too, I think separate dedicated posts are needed.  So for this one, let me just tell you more about the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban.

The Pahiyas Festival is celebrated every 15th of May in Lucban, Quezon in honor of its patron saint and the patron of farmers San Isidro Labrador. This festival features streets of houses with displays of palay, fruits, vegetables, handicrafts and kiping, a rice-made decoration (can also be eaten) which is said to be the icon of the celebration. Kipings are strung together to form various shapes like chandelier called "Arangya" and giant flowers.

The houses are screened and judged and the best one is named grand winner. 'But with many business establishments joining the celebration, runner-up and consolation prizes are also awarded to participating homes.  Every year, visitors tour the town to witness the vividly decorated houses.

This design won Gawad Luntiang Ani.  What a way to welcome the tourists right?

History suggests that the Pahiyas Festival started even before the Spaniards came to our country. The tradition was first observed by the Tayabasins (Quezon before is named as Tayabas and the people are called Tabayasin) who used to settle at the foot of Mount Banahaw, where the town of Lucban is. The townsmen had a celebration as thanksgiving to the Anitos (spirits) for the good harvest of farm products such as palay, fruits, vegetables and root crops.

During harvest time, farmers gather their harvests at a place called “tuklong” where they hold the celebration. They share meals and drink “lambanog”, a wine extracted from the flower stalks of coconut. The natives believed that by conducting this yearly celebration, they will be provided with another bountiful harvest for the following year. I think this is common to most indigenous ceremonies in the country like tha canao by the Ifugaos of the Cordillera Region.

With the arrival of Spain in the country, the people were slowly evangelized. And with the first church devoted to San Isidro Labrador built and with natives baptized as Christians, the townsmen continued to bring their harvests but this time to the church where the parish priest blessed their farm-produce as a form of thanksgiving to the Lord. And year after year, since the farmers experienced bountiful harvests, their devotion to San Isidro Labrador as the intercessor of God's blessing to them intensified.  And with the growing harvests that cannot be contained by the church, the parish decided and asked the farmers and townsmen to keep the harvests at their own houses and promised that the priest will just walk around the town to bless each of the house.  Eventually, Lucbanons' creativity and ingenuity came out, and decorated their houses with their harvests.  So this is how Pahiyas evolved.  This wonderful celebration cannot be just attributed from the Spanish influence alone.  Filipinos then were already brilliant, creative and festive!  So Pahiyas is a fusion of Christian faith and our native tradition.  And this what makes me proud of this celebration. 

The church of San Isidro Labrador

Well, going back to the details of our actual trip, our bus stopped over in Graceland Estates and Country Club where we had our lunch before heading to Lucban.  We were treated with Quezon's special native delicacies!

In this trip, I was lucky enough to have met Bea, Ivy, Ian and Luis who became my instant trip buddies!  :)

Right after lunch, we then hit the road and went straight to Lucban, Quezon.  Our bus parked kilometers away from the town proper as it can't go inside the streets anymore.  So, even when the sun is up, and the heat seems unbearable, we all geared up to experience Pahiyas!  We were all excited, we first took tricycle in batches, and then walked towards the inner streets of Lucban!

And as soon as we hit the streets, each walk and stop at every house in the town is a visual delight!  We were mesmerized, we were amazed, we were wowed!  Below, you can see all the beautifully designed houses that greeted our tour!

But first, let foydi welcome you in this Pahiyas tour!  :)


"Anak, makikinig sa'kin."  Perhaps that's the line of the grown man talking to the little boy!  :)  They are well framed with a window designed simply but elegantly with native hats.

A house with a very festive look

Of course, foydi needs to have a shot with this awesome house!

Statue of San Isidro Labrador

With these ladies smiling from the window of a well decorated house, what else can you ask for?

This is what you call golden harvest, literally!  :)

The colors just kept on attracting us.

With what's displayed on a house, one can have an idea on what the owner family's business or source of living is.  For this one, the owners of the house are most likely bayong makers.

Cleaning tools became wonderful decors!

This house won 1st Runner-up!

After roaming the streets of Lucban, we converged into a local dining place and had a taste of Pancit Habhab and Hardinera, the icons of Lucban cuisine!  Right after our merienda, we then witnessed the grand parade!

The carabao needs some rest too! :)

Right after the parade, we then started walking towards our bus.  Unfortunately, since there were tons of people who celebrated the fiesta, we weren't able to find a tricycle to bring us to where our bus was parked so we just walked.  Well, it's okay, almost everyone else were walking!  :)  And I guess that was a blessing in disguise because as we are moving away from the fiesta proper, since we were walking, we were able to see one last decorated place!  Pahabol!  :)  Please see below.

Even the gasoline station participated!

Now, I could say, mission accomplished!  With this trip, I felt proud as a Filipino, happy as a traveler and fulfilled as a heritage enthusiast.  I felt something was added to my being a Filipino.  This is such a wonderful experience and I hope you can visit Lucban as well and experience the grandeur of the Pahiyas Festival!

And this is a sample of what makes up a Bayanihan Republic!

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