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The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival - Lucban, Quezon, Philippines

May 15

By Minnette Gamez

The feast of San Isidro Labrador is celebrated in many a farming town in the Philippines. But if you’re after the truly festive and colorful, you must head on over to Lucban in Quezon for the San Isidro Pahiyas Festival.

The Pahiyas in Lucban has the reputation of being the fiesta to end all fiestas. Tourists and locals alike flock to this small town at the foot of Mt. Banahaw to enjoy the extravagant displays of the bountiful harvest (the payas or pahiyas) in the houses that line the procession route.

The decorations are a form of thanksgiving to San Isidro and it is said that houses along the route will be favored and blessed in the coming year. The homeowner’s livelihood dictates what goes on display. A rice farmer will have chandeliers of kiping (ground rice powder formed into leaves and tinted in bright colors) along with rice stalks and grains on the façade.

Produce farmers will have vegetables and fruits on display. Those who make a living from handicrafts will show off their hats, fans and placemats. The butcher will have a roasted suckling pig on display or garlands of longganisang lucban (a local sausage).

Festivities begin as early as April but the flurry of activity is usually centered on the week leading to May 15, the actual feast day of San Isidro. There are trade fairs, sporting events, cultural exhibitions, santacruzan, fireworks displays and concerts. One the feast day itself, the locals begin with a mass at the beautiful Lucban Church followed by the procession.

The partying and feasting lasts till the wee hours of the morning the next day with locals imbibing beer or lambanog (a very strong coconut vodka).

Transportation to the Pahiyas Festival

If you're going by rented car, you can take the South Luzon Superhighway and follow the routes listed below, according to the exit you take:

Exit 52a - Lucena, Legazpi, Batangas exit: passes through Sto. Tomas Junction, Alaminos, San Pablo, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, Lucena City, Tayabas to get to Lucban. Four hour trip.

Exit 52b - Calamba, Los Baños, Pagsanjan exit: passes through Calamba, Los Baños (College), Bay, Pila, Sta. Cruz, Pagsanjan, Cavinti, Luisiana to get to Lucban. Three hour trip.

Commercial buses are available going to Lucban, and ply a three-hour Manila-Lucena route. From Lucena City or Sta. Cruz, you can ride a jeepney or minibus to go to Lucban.

Bus terminals for transport to Lucena can be found along EDSA-Kamuning or Araneta Center in Quezon City, and Buendia-Taft Avenues or EDSA in Pasay City.

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