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Monday, May 20, 2013

PAHIYAS 2013: a taste of Lucban's Festival of Colors

photo and text by: Ysa Lavadia

Ever since I learned about the Pahiyas Festival when I was younger, I've always wanted to go. But every year, it's been excuse after excuse, and I always end up not going.

This year, a friend brought it up, and I decided no more excuses. On the morning of May 15, I got on a bus and made it happen.

A house decorated with stalks of rice and kiping chandeliers 


Square shaped kiping decorations

The Pahiyas Fesitival is celebrated every May 15 in Lucban, Quezon in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. During the festival, houses are decorated with fruits, vegetables, local handicrafts and kiping to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.

Fried kiping

Kiping is a thin wafer made out of rice and are typically shaped like leaves. It can be grilled or fried, and is usually served sprinkled with sugar or salt. During the festival, residents would set up shop in front of their homes and sell some local treats and delicacies. The kiping iteslf tasted a lot like bland, unsalted kropek; but with a generous amount of sugar, my sweet tooth was pleasantly surprised.

Pancit Habhab


I also tried out another local favorite: Pancit Habhab. It's really popular during Pahiyas, because, as I understand it, there is a contest among the locals for the best pancit. Just like most other pancit, what goes into it depends on who's cooking it, but there's one thing in common about Pancit Habhab no matter who cooks it -- You have to eat without any utensils!

The pancit was served on top of a rectangular banana leaf and I was told by the person selling, "Masmasarap yan pag may suka!!" It's true, the more vinegar I put, the better it tasted. You might feel a little silly eating it this way, especially if it's your first time trying it out, but hey! Eating. It's more Fun in the Philippines!

Other treats available to tourists during the festival are Lucban Longganisa and Pilipit, a donut shaped snack made of sticky rice, squash and brown sugar.

Lucban longganisa

Tama na ang food trip, back to the houses! Not only did the houses look amazing, I could sense a real warmth and a quiet sense of pride coming from the people, which for me was even more impressive. People didn't hesitate to invite people into their homes for photo ops, or to taste their homemade Pancit Habhab.

The decorations really are a labor of love, and I can only imagine the time, effort and creativity that went into everything. When asked, the people that I've talked to downplayed their efforts, saying it was nothing, or that decorating took no time at all. Even so, it's not hard to see that they really are thankful for the year's harvest.

A window decorated with Kiping
A mural of Mt. Banahaw

...made out of beans.

Pepper heat scale?!

I am just so thankful that I got to go to this year's Pahiyas Festival, and my photos can't begin to show how festive it really is. Given the chance, I would definitely return to Lucban to attend the Pahiyas Festival again.


The only thing I would do differently is, I would leave Manila earlier. A lot of people said that the trip would take about 4-5 hours. Naively, I left Manila at 7:30 AM via JAM Liner (Cubao). We arrived at Tayabas, Quezon at 1:00PM. Then it was another 30 minutes via jeep to Lucban. The bus conductor jokingly called Sariaya the Traffic Capital of Quezon. Apparently, when people said it would take 4-5 hours, they probably meant using a private car.

PS: Inspired by the success of the photo contest by Philips PH exclusively involving the members of my photography group, I finally decided to open my blog for guest posting from the Young Photographers Club of the Philippines (YOPHO) because I know that our members are not just good for model shoots but they travel and take crisp landscape photos as well.I call it #YOPHOSummer.

Mel Lavadia is a senior member of YOPHO and is currently a photographer at Shutterspace Studios.
Be sure to follow Ysa's Fanpage METERtheSTARS to learn more about her photography
She also blogs for http://ysalavadia.com/


  1. i should put that on my list of to do things next year...

  2. napaka colorful naman talaga oh!
    at sasarap nung foods ahh

  3. with sights such as this, I can expect you to go more than once! Beautiful shots...


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