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The Pahiyas Festival: A Celebration of Color and Harvest

May 15, 2024

The Philippines is a country rich in culture and traditions, and one of the most vibrant and colorful festivals that showcases its diversity is the Pahiyas Festival. Held every year on May 15 in the town of Lucban, Quezon, the Pahiyas Festival is a thanksgiving celebration for the bountiful harvest and a tribute to the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador.

The word “pahiyas” comes from the Filipino word “payas”, which means decoration or to decorate. The festival dates back to the 15th century, when farmers used to offer their harvests at the foot of Mount Banahaw, a sacred mountain that is believed to be the dwelling place of spirits and deities. Later, they brought their farm produce to the church to be blessed by the parish priest as a way of honoring San Isidro Labrador, who was said to have miraculously plowed the fields with the help of angels.

However, as time passed, the church could no longer accommodate all the harvests, so it was agreed that the farmers would display their crops on their houses instead. The priest would then go around the town to bless each house and its harvest. This tradition evolved into a competition among the residents to decorate their houses with the most creative and colorful designs using fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice cakes, handicrafts, and kiping.

Kiping is a leaf-shaped wafer made of rice flour and dyed with food coloring. It is usually arranged into chandeliers, flowers, or other shapes and hung on the walls or windows of the houses. Kiping can also be eaten as a snack or cooked into different dishes.

The highlight of the Pahiyas Festival is the grand parade that features floats, marching bands, higantes (giant papier-mache figures), carabaos (water buffaloes), beauties, and farmers. The parade also includes a procession of the image of San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza, who are accompanied by devotees dressed in colorful costumes. After the parade, the townsfolk participate in the kalas, which means to romp away or take home the harvests and decorations from the houses as a symbol of joy and merriment.

The Pahiyas Festival is not only a feast for the eyes, but also for the taste buds. Visitors can enjoy various delicacies that are unique to Lucban, such as pansit habhab (noodles eaten without utensils), Lucban longganisa (Filipino-style sausages), hardinera (meatloaf), broas (ladyfingers), tikoy (sticky rice cake), and espasol (rice cake rolled in coconut flakes).

The Pahiyas Festival is a testament to the Filipinos’ fun-loving spirit and creativity. It is also a way of preserving their cultural heritage and expressing their gratitude for nature’s bounty. The festival attracts thousands of tourists every year who want to experience the beauty and festivity of this remarkable event.

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May 15
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Calmar Interior, San Luis St. , Lucban, Philippines
Calmar Interior, San Luis St. Lucban 4328 Philippines + Google Map


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