Every 15th of May, all roads led to Lucban in the province of Quezon for the annual celebration of the Pahiyas Festival. Literally one of the most colorful festivities in the Philippines, Pahiyas is also a religious celebration as a form of thanksgiving for a year’s bountiful harvest in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Hazel and I finally had the chance to experience Pahiyas last May 2014 and we had so much fun! Syempre pa, It’s more fun in the Philippines!!!
Going to Lucban
As early as January 2014, we booked the “Pahiyas Day Tour 2014” through this website: http://www.pahiyasfestival.com. We got the package tour for PhP1,200 per person, which covers the following:
- Round-trip transfer via a bus that will take you from a meeting point in Buendia Ave. (EDSA) to the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, and back to Manila. One way travel time is about 3 hours;
- Breakfast (buffet) at the vicinity of the Kamay ni Hesus Healing Shrine.
- Lunch (buffet) at a place near the Lucban Church
I have to warn you though that while the tour voucher indicates package inclusions such as “souvenirs” and “professional tour guide for the whole day tour;” along with a detailed timeline of itinerary, you only get the three (3) items mentioned above. Basically, they will take you to the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine, serve the buffet breakfast, and then you will be on your own for the whole day.
Kamay ni Hesus Shrine
Of course we came here for the colorful festivities, but when in Lucban, one shouldn’t miss the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine, which is popular pilgrimage site, and known for healing masses held at the nearby church. From the foot of the hill, you will be immediately moved as you see the giant statue of the “Ascending Christ” at the topmost part of the shrine.
Going up was challenging especially under the heat, but it was a meaningful climb. You can pace yourself and pause as you pray and reflect at the Stations of the Cross that are strategically situated along the way. Plus, when at the top, you will be greeted by the spectacular view of Mt. Banahaw.
Reaching the top of the hill felt so rewarding, as you say your prayers at the summit.
Colorful Kiping, Pansit Habhab and the Grand Parade
From the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine, we took a tricycle going to the town proper (PhP20-50). This is probably the easiest since most vehicles are not allowed to ply inside the town at this time. The tricycle ride was about 10-15 mins and you will know you’ve arrived when you see the colorful banderitas adorning the streets.
The festival literally transforms the small town of Lucban into a vibrant one bursting with colors. It’s fascinating to see the beautiful houses decked with the colorful leaf-shaped Kiping (rice wafer), variety of local produce (fruits, vegetables) and handicrafts. You really see the creativity and ingenuity of the local folks and appreciate the effort that must have gone into putting the all decorations together. I learned though that not all houses are decorated; only those that fall along the route for the procession and the route plan is changed every year.
After passing by the adorned houses, we proceeded to the market and tiangge area, which was already jam-packed with tourists. Of course, one cannot miss the local food that Lucban is famous for such as the pansit habhab and the longganisang lucban! Yum!!!
Then, we continued walking towards the Lucban Church.
At about 2PM, people start to gather and position themselves in the vicinity of the Lucban Church in time for the Grand Parade. A marching band marks the beginning of the parade with street dancers, float of farmers with their carabaos, and a line-up of beautiful ladies and their escorts wearing embellished Filipiniana/Barong costumes. The parade goes around town passing by the streets of decorated houses.