Pahiyas festival

Pahiyas Festival: Everything You Need to Know

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  • Post last modified:July 3, 2022
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There’s always a cause to rejoice in the Philippines, with festivals ranging from religious experiences to customs for basic foods. Lucban’s Pahiyas Festival honors farming and the patron saint of the garden. 

Pahiyas came from two terms in the Philippines: ‘hiyas,’ which is a rare stone, and ‘payas,’ which means to decorate anything for an offering. The Pahiyas celebration translates to “presenting the most valuable pearls of the abundant crop”.

In this post, we will talk more about the wonderful festival, what it means, and its history. We will also talk about the food that you can enjoy in Quezon. 

What Is Pahiyas Festival?

what is pahiyas festival

The Pahiyas Festival is a festival of thankfulness after a bountiful harvest. ‘Pahiyas’ literally means “precious offering,” and the practice dates back to the 16th century. People celebrate it in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the farmer’s patron saint. Traditionally, the event was modest. However, in 1963, a group of artists decided to put together an exhibit featuring crafts, folk dances, artwork, and photographs from all over the Philippines. That is how the Pahiyas Festival came to be what it is today.

To maintain the event’s seriousness, people did a procession. They did this for San Isidro Labrador, in whose honor the festival got held. 

The houses along the procession path are the most beautifully decorated with fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Pahiyas Festival is still celebrated today. People think it keeps misfortune and deprivation away from Lucban. 

Pahiyas Festival History

pahiyas festival history

The Pahiyas Festival began as a gift-giving rite by the people of Lucban to the Franciscan missionaries who brought Catholicism to Quezon in 1583. The town’s first church administrator, Juan de Placencia continued the practice of donating the crop to the Spanish friars. He did this as a sign of thanks for a fruitful harvest. 

The next parish priest, Diego de Oropesa, continued the rite until it became a Lucban regular. 

In 1595, the town’s first parish priest, Fr. Miguel de Talavera was instrumental in the construction of a wooden church in Barrio Kulapi. 

He then had the farmers bring all their harvests to the church for blessing. The farmers in Lucban believed that this ritual was crucial. They believed that failure to observe it might mean drought, famine, and bad luck. 

In addition, as the farmers received additional favors and their crops multiplied, the wooden chapel became a gathering point for the yearly Pahiyas. 

To keep the custom alive, the townspeople decided to exhibit their harvest in front of their homes. Then, the parish priest would come to bless it.

Its pagan roots got modified in 1963 when the Pahiyas became the vast and colorful festival people know today. 

Fernando Cadelia Naawa, president and creator of the town’s Art Club, initiated this. Cultural shows, contests, and exhibitions supplement the primary competition, which awards the finest harvest-themed house.

Pahiyas Festival Place of Origin

pahiyas festival place of origin

The celebration derives from an early Filipino thanksgiving ceremony. Moreover, the ceremony got held at the foot of Mt. Banahaw to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest. 

Moreover, in the 1600s, when the Spaniards formed their church, they began to bless the crops. They did this in the name of San Isidro (Saint Isidore), the patron saint of farmers.

Pahiyas Festival Description

pahiyas festival description

Every year on the fifteenth of May, the Pahiyas Festival is held in the town of Lucban, Quezon. 

People organize the festival to thank the patron saint of farmers, Saint Isidor the Laborer, for a plentiful harvest or ani in Filipino.

During this holiday, Lucban residents decorate their homes with fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, and kiping, or rice wafers. Locals frequently exchange these ornamental fruits and veggies amongst themselves after the festivity.

In addition, over 100 homes along the festival road get decked with colorful kiping or rice wafers. They also use fruits, vegetables, and other objects depicting a plentiful harvest during Pahiyas. Due to this, the bright show became popular all over the Philippines. 

During Pahiyas, the Church of Lucban, with its patron saint, Saint Louis Bishop of Tolouse, has a stunning altar. This reflects the colorful panoramas beyond its walls. People must also arrive later than six in the morning to attend church with the locals

The figure of the patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, blesses the homes along the Pahiyas path immediately following the liturgy. It’s an unforgettable experience to venerate the patron saint and his wife Santa Maria Torribia de la Cabeza. People do this with priests and worshippers.

Locals frequently offer their houses to tourists. Hence, tourists can see their Pahiyas festival decorations up close. This also becomes an excellent opportunity to capture several photographs. 

The Pahiyas great procession, which begins at 12 noon features humans, carabaos, and inanimate items. During the procession, expect to witness brass bands, and couples wearing organic clothes and accessories. You may expect colorful harvest carts carried by decorated local carabaos, loads of pancit habhab, and a big paper mache as well. 

In addition, the Pahiyas festival has helped to make Lucban a tourist attraction with parades and artistic crafts. Leaving the crop for the priest to bless has been combined with commercial activities. These include selling bags, abaniko hand-held fans, caps, mats, and Lucban longganisa, a Filipino form of long sausage. You can also spot the town’s beloved rice wafer or kiping on the exterior of every Lucban house.

Read Philippine Festival Guides by HICAPS

Pahiyas Festival Meaning

The term ‘pahiyas’ comes from the word ‘payas’. This means to decorate or embellish. 

The origins of this ritual may be traced back to the 15th century when farmers used to offer their crops at the base of Mount Banahaw. 

Over time, people donated their agricultural products to the church in honor of St. Isidor the Laborer. He is the patron saint of farmers and laborers. 

Pahiyas Festival Costume

pahiyas festival costume

During the Pahiyas Festival, you can see a  stunning procession of costumes made of organic materials and native items. These include banig, abaka, and kiping or multicolored rice wafers. 

Moreover, the Philippines’ lakan and lakambini (mister and miss) grin at everyone. The models generously promote Lucban, Quezon’s native items. 

In addition, the clothes lure visitors and locals with a strong admiration for ingenuity and inventiveness. This demonstrates that it is not the extravagance of clothing or materials that one wears that is important. It is rather the inner beauty, particularly the heart.

In particular, the inside, such as one’s upright viewpoint, gives one’s magnificence a remarkable radiance and elegance. 

This procession also shows the unbroken peace and understanding of our intimate connection with nature. Whatever names and looks we may have, the things inside our hearts will remain forever. 

Lucban, Quezon dramatically changed terms of housing, roads, and educational advancement. The locals, however, remain mindful of nature and embrace modest life with lofty thinking.

Interestingly, the locals are strict in their environmental support. They do not use plastics in any businesses, shops, or marketplaces. Instead, they use recycled newspapers, bayong, or local bags and baskets. 

Moreover, if you need to buy tofu, pork, or fish, you must provide your own container. If not, they will not sell you anything, regardless of how much money you have. 

Where Is Pahiyas Festival Celebrated

The Pahiyas Celebration in Quezon Province takes place on May 15th. Everyone looks forward to seeing this lavish festival. 

Quezon, historically Tayabas, has the second biggest population in the Southern Tagalog area. While the Pahiyas holiday often gets held simultaneously in Tayabas and Sariaya, people still visit. 

Moreover, people visit Lucban for its lavish preparations, which began in the 16th century as a method of offering thanks for the town’s excellent harvest.

Must-Try Delicacies During the Pahiyas Festival

when is pahiyas festival celebrated

Here are the top baked goods you must try during the festival. As an alternative, you can bring them home as pasalubong. 

1. Budin

People make budin using cassava, cheese, coconut milk, an egg, and sugar. They ideally serve this panghimagas (Filipino dessert) with coffee after a lavish meal. 

This cassava cake often gets sliced triangularly like a pizza. Hence, making it ideal for snacking on the go. You must try one if you enjoy sweet, filling nibbles.

2. Puto Bao

Puto bao appears as if it’s made of ube at first appearance. However, it is actually a rice cake.

People prepare this delicacy using sticky rice and macapuno filling. This gives the first taste a delightful, sweet surprise. 

In addition, a dash of purple food coloring provides a burst of color to the delectable local delicacy. This also accentuates the fragrant aroma it emits fresh from the steamer.

3. Hardinera

Hardinera, also known as Lucban hardinera, is a popular dish in Quezon. 

This star meal resembles a meatloaf. However, people cook it with a variety of ingredients that produce a gorgeous and tasty dish ideal for special occasions.

People make hardinera using pig giniling stewed in menudo sauce. They then add flavor to it using liver spread, pepper, pineapple pieces, boiled eggs, raisins, and cheese. 

Then, people serve the hardinera in a llanera. People often associate llanera with leche flans. A mouthful of hardinera provides a flavorful entrée that you can consume hot or cold.

4. Yema Cake

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If you’ve had yema sweets before, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy it in its pastry form— yema cake

Yema cake has a cult following among residents and visitors from nearby regions. Bakers make it using sponge cake, yema icing, and a significant amount of cheese.

Sweet tooth eaters will gladly take another bite of this incredibly addictive delicacy. Before you leave Quezon, make sure to grab a box or two from Rodillas Yema Cake

Rodillas Yema Cake has been a long-term partner of HICAPS. They source fresh, high-quality ingredients from HICAPS to make their famous yema cakes.

5. Minukmok

This dish, which originated in Tayabas, has an intriguing backstory that you should be aware of. 

In the province, minukmok serves as a courtship ritual meal. During this ritual, the guy spends time with the girl and her family. 

The guy will then have to pound the ingredients. Meanwhile, the woman will be mixing the minukmok with a large spoon.

According to superstitions, if a guy strikes the lady’s hand with the pestle, they will be together. Once the cooking comes to a conclusion, the guy must give the dish to the lady’s parents. If they approve, he receives the sweet approval for romance.

People use cassava, coconut strips, sugar, peanuts, and sugar to make minukmok. People cook this delectable dish with love.

6. Pinagong

Are you a fan of French and Italian bread? If yes, you must sample Sariaya’s variation of pastry. 

The term pinagong came from the word pagong, which means turtle. The term became famous for the shape of the bread and the texture of turtles. They have hard exteriors, but soft on the inside.

Pinagong goes well with coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pahiyas festival celebrate?

The Pahiyas Festival is celebrated to honor San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, for a fruitful crop. Every May 15, houses get transformed into colorful places using harvests and the famed kipings as decor. 

What month is Pahiyas festival?

Pahiyas Festival is on May 15. Hundreds of visitors rush to Lucban to see the events and activities of Pahiyas. Residents of Lucban adorn their homes with vegetables, fruits, and kiping on the night of the celebration (colored rice wafer with a leaf shape).

Where did the Pahiyas festival originated?

The Pahiyas Festival originated from an early Filipino thanksgiving ceremony held at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. This celebration expresses gratitude for a bountiful harvest.

What type of festival is Pahiyas?

The Pahiyas Festival is a type of thankfulness festival. It serves as a festival for a bountiful harvest. ‘Pahiyas’ literally means “precious offering,” and the practice dates back to the 16th century. It exists in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the farmer’s patron saint.

Conclusion

The Pahiyas celebration reflects the essence of tradition with religious thanksgiving features. The ‘kalas,’ or taking away of decorations and crops, which occurs at the end of the event, represents pleasure and merriment. 

As a result, the Pahiyas festival has become one of the most colorful and sought-after tourism events in the Philippines, with citizens from all over the country participating.

Do you want to know the other popular festivals in this beautiful country of ours? Well, then read our article “Famous Philippine Festivals: Highlights and Pasalubong“.

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