The Pahiyas Festival is one of the most popular fiestas in the Philippines, held in honor of San Isidro Labrador, Catholic Patron Saint of Farmers. It is celebrated annually every May 15th (regardless of whether it falls on a weekday or a weekend).
The festival is a thanksgiving feast for a beautiful harvest. Kiping (colorful decorations made from dried rice paste) are used to decorate the houses along with various fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
#TeamOAP (Team Our Awesome Planet) visited this year and put together these helpful tips for you to use next time you visit Pahiyas.
1. Travel Tips
Be sure to leave Manila by 3am. Take the route to Lucena to avoid traffic in the neighboring towns that are also celebrating their own Pahiyas Festival.
Parking is located outside of town. This means you need to ride a tricycle or walk to get to the route.
Tip: Look out for heavy traffic if you decide to leave the festival by 3pm, when the parade is just getting started.
2. What to do at the Pahiyas Festival
Hear the morning mass at St. Louis Parish Church. Mass starts at 6am and is followed by a procession that leaves the church at 7am.
You can start the tour by following the well-decorated path that starts and ends at the church.
Every year, the procession route changes to give way for other houses to participate in the decorating.
Trivia: It usually takes about seven years before the procession passes by the same house again.
Lucban is known for their low-priced and beautiful buri hats, made by the local women.
The main decorative piece of the festival is the kiping, a dried, leaf-shaped rice paste the comes in a variety of colors.
Pahiyas FestivalKiping is edible, and you can buy it from the locals selling along the route for P10. It tastes like bland kropek (shrimp crackers); they add sugar or salt for flavor.
The houses make excellent backdrops for your next Facebook and Instagram pics. 😉
We love the intricate details they put into decorating the house. Even the small decorations are lovely to photograph.
One of the best souvenirs from the fiesta would be a picture from inside the decorated houses.
Tip: Don’t be shy to ask permission from the owners; most of them don’t mind and will even invite you to eat with them. 🙂
The parade starts at 2pm and will end until it makes a full circle back to the church.
We were lucky enough to be hosted by this lovely family. Thank you, Chase and Tita Lynn for letting us experience an authentic Pahiyas feast! 🙂
We had a wonderful view of the parade from their window…
One of the attractions of the procession is the Parade of the Parikitan (Gowns).
Designers in town are challenged to create beautiful dresses that incorporate the spirit of the fiesta.
The crowd is always excited for the parade of the carabaos (Philippine water buffalo).
Trivia: The carabao is one of the main symbols of the Philippines and a farmer’s best companion, as they help with farming chores.
Last is the parade of higantes (giants). These towering creations bring joy and laughter as they try to scare and chase after the crowd.
Even after the parade ends, the crowd is still lively…
During the fiesta, don’t miss the chance to dance with the crowd while the street band repeatedly chants “haribon-haribon”. 🙂
For dessert, try the Pilipit (P7), a popular street food made of kalabasa (squash). Its original shape is a figure 8, but sometimes it resembles a donut.
It’s sweet and sticky–a good choice for merienda.
Don’t forget to eat Pancit Hab-Hab served on banana leaves.
Tip: It’s a tradition to eat it with a bit of vinegar and directly from the banana leaf using only your mouth (no utensils). P10 only.
When passion fruit is in season, grab a drink for only P6.
Tip: You can bring home passion fruit concentrate but you need a cooler and ice so it won’t spoil on your way back to Manila.
The best pasalubong so far is the Lucban Longganisa (small, P80/dozen).
Lucban longganisa has a garlicky taste, and you can find the locals hanging them outside their house. Our favorite though is the simple grilled longganisa on the streets. Dip in vinegar for added taste. 🙂
Fun Fact: They don’t use preservatives–just oregano, garlic, and atsuete.
If you stay until 6pm, you’ll get to see the houses slowly light up with Christmas lights. 🙂