Pahiyas Festival is one of the most interesting and colorful fiestas in the Philippines. Held every May 15th in Lucban, Quezon Province, Pahiyas Festival is a special time when the locals give thanks to their patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, patron saint of farmers.
During Pahiyas Festival Lucban folks adorn their houses with colorful ornaments, all made of farm produce: fruits and vegetables, rice grains, eggs, coconuts and kiping, a wafer made of rice, said to be influenced and was a rice version of the Mexican taco shell.
Leaf-shaped kiping wafers come in different bright colors, making them perfect for the fiesta decorations. Lucban residents were so creative with their decorations.
It was such a joy to see rows upon rows of houses all covered with farm products. Some made lanterns out of kiping and rice grains, while some made huge flowers out of them.
Pahiyas Festival 2011 fell on a Sunday, so I thought it was a perfect time to experience this famous fiesta in Southern Luzon. And since it was also a Sunday, we expected that more people would be coming from different parts of the country.
We started our trip very early in the morning at 4 a.m. so as to avoid heavy traffic going to Lucban. Since we were coming from Manila, it took about 3 hours to get there. That was perfect for getting some breakfast around town and enough time to explore the house decorations.
Quezon Province is famous for its good food, but it is most famous for pancit habhab and Lucban longganisa. On San Luis Street are two of the most recommended restaurants in Lucban: Cafe San Luis and the original Buddy’s Restaurant. Some people in Metro Manila would be familiar with Buddy’s, which features good food of Quezon. Packaged tours usually include breakfast at Cafe San Luis. It was reserved for an exclusive group of tourists that morning, so we went to another resto instead.
Morning activities included a procession of San Isidro’s statue around town, ending at the Church of Lucban. In the afternoon, a street parade was held.
Some people made it a point to visit a nearby retreat center, Kamay ni Hesus, which became famous after some stories of miraculous healing in the area. People would walk up the steps to the grotto, and make a wish or a request to God.
If there’s one tiny disappointment about the festival, it’s that since we did not know anyone in the area, we didn’t get to have food for free. It used to be that fiestas welcome visitors and strangers to their abode and offer them food, but maybe due to the huge number of tourists that day, it would have been crazy to give away food to everyone.
Pahiyas Festival was a big success for the town of Lucban, obviously. The number of tourists that flocked Lucban exceeded expectations of the locals. By 1:30 in the afternoon, restaurants were still entertaining long queues and some were running out of food to sell. Tourists loved the local products. I particularly love the bayong I got, perfect for trips to the market.
How to Go to Lucban, Quezon
If commuting from Metro Manila, take a bus going to Lucena, Quezon. Many bus companies in Cubao or in LRT Pasay offer transport to Lucena. Get off at Lucena’s central terminal, where there are jeepneys going to Lucban.