In Part 3 of our Pistang Pamana series, in celebration of National Heritage Month, let us discover another festival that celebrates a bountiful harvest and honors San Isidro Labrador as the patron saint of farmers. Halina’t makisaya sa Pahiyas Festival ng Lucban, Quezon!
The main attraction of the yearly festivities is the extravagant houses decorated with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and commercial products like hats, bags, and abaniko.
During the 15th century, the farmers used to offer their harvests at the foot of Mount Banahaw, which they believed was sacred. Soon, Christianity influenced the locals to send their offerings to the church in honor of San Isidro de Labrador – the patron saint of farmers, laborers, and peasants.
The priest would bless the offerings, which was also a way of thanksgiving for their bountiful harvest. Over time, the church could no longer accommodate the farmers’ offerings so the town decided to display the harvest at their houses instead. The priest would go around communities to bless their harvest and the annual festival was born as we know it today.
Pahiyas was derived from the word “payas” which means “decoration” or “to decorate.” This became the main attraction of the festival, where extravagant houses are decorated with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and commercial products like hats, bags, abaniko (hand-held fans). Even their Lucban longganisa was used as a decor.
One of the trademarks of Pahiyas is the “kiping” – multi-colored rice wafers in the form of a leaf. These wafers are usually grouped together to form a chandelier called “arangya”. The festival became one of the Philippines’ main tourist attractions and made Lucban a cultural heritage site.
The highlight of the Pahiyas Festival is the tradition of “kalas”, where they take down decorations and romp away with them as a symbol of rejoicing and merriment.
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