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Pahiyas, Lucban’s harvest festival


A visitor taking in one of the festival photo op.

map_quezon_laguna.gif “The kiping, thin, delicate and edible rice crackers is the festival’s identifying decor.”15th of May and the best place to be is nowhere else but in Lucban, a town in northwest Quezon bordering Laguna where the annual harvest festival, Pahiyas, is in full swing. Multicolored kiping, thin, delicate and edible rice crackers, in the shape of a leaf decorates windows, doors and just anything else on the house’s exterior is its most identifying decor. Not only that, fruits and vegetables, some, arranged in anthropomorphic forms covers every inch of space while life sized papier mache and grass farmers and carabaos in a tableau can be found at the house’s front.


Multicolored kiping decorating one of the houses.

While the Pahiyas (originally means, to decorate) and celebrated in honor of San Isidro Labrador, is also held in the neighboring municipalities of Tayabas and Sariaya, Lucban is more known, more festive, more colorful and unfortunately, more commercialized.

Curiously, this is the biggest celebration and its not even the towns’ main patron saint.


A house in full decoration.

The decorations are really exhilarating, very colorful and a testament to the Lucbanin’s creativity. Kiping can take the form of leaves, rosettes and bouquets. Crush and arrange these and you have an instant edible wall. Suman (wrapped, elongated native rice cakes) lines one end to the other while clusters of stems of unhusked rice run from one edge of the roof to the other end.


One of the owners framed with his decoration.

Other decors can take the form of unhusked rice glued to a board and painted. Anything is possible as long as the base materials are all farm produce.


The band marching along the streets during the daytime procession.

Lest one forgets the reason for the festival, a morning procession is held around the town to the church. Originally, what was practiced before was that after the carozzas have passed, the faithful can pick the fruit and vegetable decorations along the way. Now, with this annual celebration becoming a major tourist destination, its hands off and more for the tourists and visitors.


The hat lady posing infront of her wares.

Its really chaotic but fun. Along the sidelines are many vendors like this hat lady selling anything from native wares, food, ukay ukay, to the now ubiquitous China made products. Just about anything!


An enterprising vendor in one of the stalls.

Of course the souvenir stalls aren’t far behind with all those Pahiyas t-shirts, keychains, and stuff bearing the phrases “I love Pahiyas,” “Pahiyas Festival,” “Pahiyas Quezon, Philippines” and so on and so forth. But what I do like most after walking around the streets is just go to a streetside eatery and order either pancit habhab or longsilog with original Lucban longanisa or if the budget is not too tight, hardinera with rice downed with an ice cold Coke.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

9 Comments

  1. donG hO
    May 1, 2008 @ 13:08

    i attended pahiyas years back maybe that was 2004 and it’s worth having that long trip and visit this place. it is best seen at night with all the lights. honestly i didn’t like the pancit habhab but it doesn’t taste bad either.

  2. estan
    May 3, 2008 @ 18:14

    pahiyas during the night is totally different. but i still have to see that one.

  3. Sidney
    May 3, 2008 @ 22:21

    Hi Estan… I am out of blogging for some time… I wanted to say goodbye but not farewell! 😉
    You are a very talented photographer…in fact you are my inspiration in blogging…
    Life caught me off guard…just need to recover from the blow… and I will be back stronger than ever ! 😉
    I will keep on shooting so we might meet again somewhere in the Philippines!
    It was nice meeting you.

  4. estan
    May 4, 2008 @ 11:53

    Sidney, thanx for the comment. I just hope that whatever it is, in the long run, you would weather it and would make you stronger. I do look forward to meet and shoot with you again.

  5. acey
    May 4, 2008 @ 14:09

    oh, wow, estan. beautiful pictures!

  6. Allan Barredo
    May 5, 2008 @ 12:54

    Loved the photos bro! I have been planning to go to Lucban for the Pahiyas for years now but was not able to actually do it :).

  7. Ferdz
    May 7, 2008 @ 21:41

    I have only been here once at medyo bitin pa. Hopefully makabalik this month. I like your shots here. Especially that Hat lady and marching band

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    March 19, 2009 @ 17:34

    […] Every town has its own history and best kept food secret as well as fiestas to attend of which the Pahiyas of Quezon comes to […]

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    March 18, 2012 @ 22:07

    […] I can’t help but look back in amusement when we went to the Pahiyas in Lucban, Quezon. It was really silly of you to get distracted from the festivities as you looked […]

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