Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Pahiyas Festival Experience

This post is actually too late for the actual event and too early for the next one....

We wanted to do experience the Pahiyas festival for quite some time and finally, last May 2014 we made it happen!

Pahiyas is a yearly festival set in Lucban, Quezon in honor of San Isidro, the patron saint of good and abundant harvest.  Pahiyas literally means “to decorate”. This is one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines held every 15th of May.  Houses and streets are decorated mostly from colorful kiping as well as assorted harvest and food fare.

Lucban is a 2 to 2.5 hour drive from where we live in Laguna, accessed via SLEX and passing by the towns of Los Banos, Bay, Santa Cruz and turning right to the Pagsanjan-Cavinti road. 

Here are few tips to enjoy the Pahiyas Festival:

·         We preferred to come earlier in the day while it is still relatively cooler. Alternatively, you can also go on a late afternoon to early evening. Most homes were designed to have colorful lighting in the evening.
·         It is better to bring your own transportation but be prepared to park it just off the highway junction.
·         Be prepared to walk at least a kilometer or more, from the Lucban junction just off the end of the highway going to the streets where the festivities are held. All modes of transportation are not allowed anymore inside the town’s main streets. You really have to walk!
·         Consequently, wear light, summer-friendly clothing, hat/cap, sun protection and comfortable shoes or slippers.
·         If you forgot to bring a summer-y hat, you can always buy one along the streets of Lucban for a price that is almost a steal! 
·         Don’t expect all the streets of Lucban to be garbed with colorful decorations. Usually, only a select section will be decked every year and each street take their turn year on year. If you have no idea which is the right street to visit, just follow the crowd and you’ll never go wrong.
·         Take time to appreciate the ‘Pahiyas’ of every participating household. I interviewed one home maker and I was told it took them at least one week to decorate. And lots of harvest, patience and creativity.
·         Some houses have a 2nd floor balcony that overlooks the street. Ask permission from the home owner to allow you to have your picture taken from the balcony itself for a better backdrop. Most home owners will actually oblige. We tried this in at least two houses.
·         I have not tried partaking lunch from a random house, although I heard this is pretty standard expectation during festivals in provinces. The nosy me couldn’t help but notice that most home owners do not necessarily have feast that is open for public. Some houses had videoke but no food.  Net, plan to stop-by somewehere else for lunch.
·         Don’t forget to try street fare especially the Pancit Habhab. Stir-fried egg noodles are served on a banana leaf with a dash of vinegar and you have to eat the pancit straight from the banana leaf without using any fork. Hence the name, habhab. Yep, you get the picture! Habhab-an na!
·         If you are the squeamish kind and need table, chair, airconditioning, the works, drop by at Buddy’s Restaurant for an equally authentic pancit habhab. Parking can be a challenge though. And on the day of the festival itself, be prepared to wait in line.
·         For your pasalubong fare, try the Lucban Longganisa or Broas (Lady Fingers) by the bucket. 
·         Follow the path leading to the Parish church and town plaza where more festivities abound. They also replicated their version of the Higantes (Giants) which was made famous by our very own Angono, Rizal.

Our children are not exposed to town festivals so we took this opportunity for them to experience the fiestang Pilipino.

It is truly more fun (and more colorful) in the Philippines!