Pahiyas Festival is a food, harvest, and religious festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Worker) held in the town of Lucban, Quezon, Philippines every 15th of May. It is officially named Lucban San Isidro Pahiyas Festival.
Blending religious veneration to the saint, the town’s patron and the patron of farmers in Roman Catholic faith, and thanksgiving for good harvest, it is famous as the country’s most colorful festival brought about by decorated houses that participate in Timpalak Pahiyas competition.
History of Pahiyas Festival
Pahiyas Festival comes from the word pahiyas that means thanksgiving. Its origin harks back to the time before the coming of the Spaniards.
The practice of offering to St. Isidore is believed to originate from pre-Christian rite of allocating a portion of the harvest to ancestor spirits. Townsfolk engaged in merry-making by holding a feast and drinking native alcoholic beverage, believing that doing so would ensure another year of good harvest.
Roman Catholic priests included the ritual into the religious festival in honor of St. Isidore in the early years of the Spanish conquest. In the past, the festival was a parochial affair. Known as Fiesta of San Isidro Labrador, it was organized by volunteers of lay people in coordination with church authorities and for a long time it was a small-scale, localized festivity.
In the 1970s, the Philippine government embarked on a national program to boost tourism. In 1973, the municipal government started taking on the responsibility in managing the cultural and secular revelries, while the parish community was in charge of its primarily religious aspects and a few fund-raising activities.
In the same year, the Fiesta of San Isidro was rebranded as Pahiyas Festival. The fiesta was transformed into an event that attracts a sizeable crowd of hundred thousands and became a part of the official list of national tourism activities.
In 1998, it took part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Due to coronavirus pandemic, the festival was halted in 2020 and 2021.
Pahiyas Festival Schedule of Activities
Pahiyas Festival Events are a combination of religious activities such as novena, masses, and procession, as well as many festive and competitive events such as singing contests, cooking contests, horse race, musical events, cultural shows, crafts competition in bag-weaving and kiping decorations, beauty contest such as as Mutya ng Lucban, etc. Food stalls, trade fairs, booths, and other revelries are also notable attractions of the celebration. Some of the famous ones are highlighted below.
Grand parade occurs after the holy mass on the feast day. It follows a pre-determined and designated journey across the town called the Pahiyas Route. Images of the patron saint and Santa Maria Torribia de la Cabeza, who is assumed to be his wife, are enjoined by the faithful in a procession, and the saints are said to grant blessings and a good harvest for the coming year to houses that are found along the route. In addition,, the parade is filled with attractive sights and sounds including higantes (giants), marching band, Parikitan candidates, revelers, etc. Furthermore, stalls are put up along the route that sell local dishes and delicacies such as the famed kiping, longganisa, and pancit habhab.
Timpalak Pahiyas is a competition of the most creative, colorful, visually attractive, and artistic decorations of houses along the route of the Grand Parade. It consists of two categories, Timpalak Pahiyas Daytime and Timpalak Pahiyas Kutitap. Timpalak Pahiyas Daytime is judged by the appearance of a participating house during the day, while Timpalak Pahiyas Kutitap is judged for its overall look during nighttime.
Decorations in the hundreds of houses are composed of a number of plants and farm produce like fruits and vegetables, rice stalks, delectable dishes such as roasted suckling pig (lechon), and decorative arrays of kiping. Prizes are awarded and given to winners.
Here are some local dishes and delicacies that are part of the festivities. They may be part of the cooking tilts with prizes.
Kiping. Kiping is rice wafer or rice crispies. It is likened to taco, a food item of Spanish origin. Its preparation is labor-intensive and time-consuming. It is cooked with a particular variety of rice that has been in stock for a year, ground, and mixed with food coloring and salt. They are then molded into clean, dry leaves of various plants and trees. It can be partaken by dipping into vinegar or other sauces.
Longganisa. Longganisa is a meat sausage sold in Lucban. It is a string of clean pig intestine stuffed with a preparation of pork, seasoning, and spices. It can be seen as part of the decoration in the houses, stalls, and sellers during the festival.
Pancit habhab. Pancit habhab is a type of dish that uses dried noodles. Prepared on a piece of banana leaf, it is seasoned with vinegar, chilli, calamansi, soy sauce, and other sauces. It is intended to be consumed by hand, thus without the use of utensils such as fork, spoon, and fork.
Ginoo at Binibining Parikitan Pahiyas
Ginoo at Binibining Parikitan Pahiyas or simply Parikitan is a contest of men and women wearing beautiful traditional festival costumes. They are part of the Grand Parade.
Where to go
Religious activities are organized by the centuries-old Lucban parish church, the St. Louis Bishop Church. Activities and events are held in major streets in the town.
How to reach Lucban, Quezon
The town of Lucban can be reached via land trips of buses, car, public utility jeepneys, and taxi.
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