In the Quezon province town of Lucban, the festival in honour of San Isidro is known as pahiyas, meaning « precious offering ».
San Isidro Labrador is said to have worked all his life for the same wealthy landowner named Juan de Vargas. San Isidro was always in church so his co-workers complained that his piety was keeping him from his work. Vargas went to see for himself and saw that he actually came later than the others; but as he advanced to reprimand him, he saw not only San Isidro’s plow, but two others, pulled by teams of snow-white oxen, guided by invisible plowers. He realized that San Isidro was getting supernatural aid and fell on his knees. Most representations of San Isidro depict this scene.
During the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban all the homes in the procession’s itinerary are decorated with fruits, vegetables, agricultural products and kiping. The kiping is a leaf-shaped wafer made of rice (similar to tacos of Spain) and dyed in bright colours. No one really eats kiping anymore and it is solely used as a decoration.
The celebration is a form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and in honour of the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador. A procession of the image of San Isidro is planned long before the festival and it is said that houses along the route of the procession will be especially favoured and blessed in the coming year. It is from this belief that the lavish decoration of the home began.
The Pahiyas Festival attracts a lot of people. Make sure you arrive in the early morning (around 7 am) so that you have the town almost for yourself. From 11 am on the streets of Lucban are so full of people that you can’t appreciate the decorations of the houses anymore.
Like many important Festivals in the Philippines, the Pahiyas felt pray to commercialism (posters of a cell phone company was plastered all over the town) and it might be a good idea to visit Lucban in the morning and move on to the town of Sariaya where they have a similar Pahiyas Festival which might be more authentic.
Lucban is noted for its delicious foods such as the famous pansit Lucban, the Lucban longganisa (local sausage), atsara, pinangat and delicacies such as espasol, kalamayhati, tamales, tinapa and more.
When: Every year on May 15.
Where: Lucban. Approximately 160 km from Metro Manila via Lucena City or 133 kilometers from Metro Manila via the Sta Cruz-Pagsanjan route in Laguna.
Travel time is three and a half hours.
My rating: 10 /10. Extraordinary house decorations with agricultural products. A lot of time and energy are put into those decorations. A must see. Sponsors and commercial establishments should be more discreet in their advertisements.
Info from: My Sarisari Store
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