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Pahiyas Festival

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History & Cultural Relevance

The Pahiyas Festival was formally started by farmers and followers of San Isidro Labrador during the 19th century in the town of Lucban, Quezon.

Legend has it that the late saint was blessed with the ability to magically plow fields no matter what their state was, so long as he did so after attending mass. This Spanish legend was passed on to Filipinos, and people, particularly farmers, became so enamored with the divinity of this saint. They began emulating his life and kindness through their actions, and of course, by honoring him through the Pahiyas Festival.

The festival is enjoyed by Filipinos and even foreigners during the 15th of May every year, with houses being decorated more brightly and intricately as each year passes. It makes sense, since Pahiyas comes from two Filipino root words: hiyas (jewel) and pahiyas (precious offering).

Activities:

The festivity features all the usual things you’d expect to see in a typical Filipino fiesta: from lechon, to pancit, to homeowners inviting guests to their home, to colorful decor and costumes enough to make your eyes pop.

However, the true highlight of the festival is a procession along the streets of Lucban of the image of San Isidro Labrador, a practice which the citizens do annually to ensure good harvests. After a solemn celebration and thanksgiving to God, the festival-goers proceed with the rest of the festival: houses are decorated in colorful rice wafers called kiping, as well as vegetables, leaves, and other brightly colored plants, taken from their harvest.

Each house tries to outdo the other in terms of food, offerings, and colorfulness, and it’s not impossible to see an entire house decked in differently-colored kiping and vegetables on this festive, fastidious day. At the end of the day, judges roam the streets, taking note of the different houses, and award the best and most-brightly colored one as the winner of that year’s Pahiyas Festival.

Festivities like these truly show traits exemplified by Filipinos: hard work and being religious.

Photo by Enrico Dee

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