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May 29, 2010

REINERIO ALBA

Within one’s own network of friends, one is bound to bump into someone who either has gone or is planning to go to the now tourist-famous festival called “Lucban Pahiyas.” A quick typing of the word “pahiyas” in the google search engine and one is bound to see loads and loads of colorful photos of the signature chandelier-like colored “kipings” that decorate the homes of Lucban every May 15 of each calendar year.

Formally known as the San Isidro Pahiyas festival, the event, in essence is an annual thanksgiving day tribute of the local farmers to Lucban’s patron saint St. Isidore the Farmer for another year of bountiful harvest. The event is expectedly colorful as it is the day of the year when the Lucban houses through which the procession would pass are dressed up in kipings or colored rice wafers along with all the other harvests each house is known for (sweet potatos, radish, pepper, grains of rice, etc.). Households specializing in handicrafts display their equally colorful buri/buntal hats, bags, placemats, while the house of the local butcher is expected to display a dressed up lechon or roasted pig in front of his house. The so-called “kiping” itself is made from ground rice flour, shaped using “cabal” leaves or other leaf forms and dipped in radiant colors of fuchsia, yellow, red, green, and other bright shades. The “kipings,” by the way, are edible, fried and dipped into sugar. Residents believed that houses along the route of the procession will be favored with another bountiful harvest or blessings in the coming years.

It used to be that all such harvests are placed inside the church but owing to the limited space within the church, it has been proposed that such offerings should instead be placed in front of each house. The idea behind this is explained in the festival’s official web site (http://www.pahiyasfestival.com):

“After due consultations with the parish priest, it was agreed upon that the farmers harvests be displayed tight at the door steps in front of the house, where the parish priest can easily bless them as he make a round of the houses in the community as the procession, carrying the images of Saint Isidore and Sta. Maria Toribia, and the townspeople, passes by. Not contented with this change, the townspeople went on to outdo each other door steps that made the procession more lively and colorful.”

These days, the festival has become a definite must-see event not only for tourists but locals alike.