Pahiyas Festival 2016: Cultural Adventure

Probably the most popular festival in Quezon, San Isidro Pahiyas Festival or more commonly known as Pahiyas Festival is a harvest festival celebrated in the town of Lucban every 15th of May. It is held in honor of San Isidro Labrador who is the patron Saint of farmers. 

San Isidro Pahiyas Festival
Pahiyas Festival

Pahiyas Festival Details

The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival is famously known for houses that are adorned with colorful leaf-shaped decorations called kiping. 

San Isidro Pahiyas Festival 2016 - Lucban, Quezon

For those who don't know it yet, kiping is made from rice paste (thus it's edible) and is quite similar to that of a tortilla (even tastes like one). The uniqueness of using kiping as decoration made the festival one of a kind. Aside from that, it adds this Instagram-ready feel to the houses which is an effect that adds promotion to the celebration through social media. 

Intro: How to make kiping

The word pahiyas is from the Filipino word hiyas or jewel and when added with the prefix pa- means a precious offering both of which fully describes the celebration's meaning. This festival is said to be dated back to the 16th century. Several stories about its origins were passed down from generations and are still believed by most until today.

The streets of Lucban during Pahiyas Festival

Visitors enjoy the Instagram friendly houses

One such origin story tells of San Isidro Labrador magically plowing the field of the faithful farmers who dutifully attends mass. Another (more popular and "romantic") story tells of a farmer who didn't miss going to mass and giving an offering of his products even if it means almost taking his farm for granted and being poor. Because of this, his fellow farmers would laugh at him and think of him as a fool if not crazy. 

The crowd checking out the grand winner

Come harvest time, they were shocked to find out that the pious farmer harvested ten times the amount of their harvest despite him having a smaller field. (Lucky for the farmer people then didn't accuse him of stealing from their lands). It was then that he revealed that San Isidro Labrador and some angels help him plow the fields. This it was said, sparked farmers to improve their religious life (and also give some of their products as offerings). 

Here are some of the beautifully decorated houses during the 2016 Pahiyas Festival:

The highlight of the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival is the procession along the annually changing route. Lucbanins believe that when the image of San Isidro Labrador passes by their house, they are ensured of a bountiful harvest in the coming seasons. The procession features a pair of giant papier-mache figures representing a farmer and his wife. This is followed by the image of the patron saint and his wife Sta. Maria de la Cabeza carries a basket filled with triangulo biscuits that are given to children during the procession. This culminates with the generous sharing of food among the townspeople. 

With the beautiful ladies of Quezon Tourism

Kiping + lights = beauty

Going back to the decorated houses, the local government awards the outstanding houses with monetary rewards ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 pesos. During the night, these houses would also outdo each other in what is called the Pahiyas Kutitap. This means, different colored lights are added and lit up creating a much better and more dramatic effect to their already beautifully decorated facade. After the competition, the winning house will shower the decorations to the people as free treats. For other houses, they will cook these decorations and eat them as rice chips complete with dips (like that of a nachos).

The grand winner for the 2016 Pahiyas Festival

I got to experience the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival 2016 because of the generosity of the Quezon Tourism Office. I was invited along with hand-picked media folks to participate in the Experience Quezon 2016 Media Tour. I particularly loved the Pahiyas Kutitap experience due to the beauty that it adds up to the night. Given the chance, I would love to revisit and participate in the festival annually. 

Why experience the Pahiyas Festival?

Pahiyas Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the province of Quezon. With that, except that the streets of Lucban become crowded during this time. Regardless, feast your eyes on the beautifully decorated houses in town. 


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