“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.