The Lucban San Isidro Pahiyas Festival is probably the most amazing harvest celebration of the Philippines. The annual festival is dedicated to the patron saint of peasants and farmers, Isidore the Farm Labourer. Every May 15, thousands of visitors flock to Lucban to see the events and activities that make the Pahiyas so unique.
On the eve of the festival, residents of Lucban decorate their houses with vegetables, fruits, and kiping (coloured rice wafer in the leaf shape). The name of the festival comes from the word ‘payas,’ which means to decorate.
The procession of ‘Kalas’ is the main highlight of the festival. It's when the crowd tries to take decorations down from the house, and owners try to stop it from happening. It's a fun event that many residents of Lucban look forward to. During the festival, farmers show their great agricultural produce: radish, pepper, and rice. You can see the famous "Anok" decorations (miniatures) made of fruits, veggies, and longganisa sausage everywhere. Arangya are huge flowers made from kiping in fuschia, yellow, and other bright colours.
Pahiyas Festival History
The festivities go back to the 15th century when farmers made offerings at the foot of Mount Banahaw. Later on, they started bringing their farm produce to the church in Lucban in honor of St. Isidore the Laborer, the patron saint of the town and of farmers and peasants. Worshippers would bring their harvest to the church to be blessed by the parish priest to express gratitude to their Lord for such a bountiful harvest. Over time, the church could no longer accommodate all farm produce and, thus, a decision to display the harvests at the households across Lucban was made. The parish priest would go from one household to another to bless their harvests. The modern version of the Festival of Pahiyas in Lucban started in 1963. It featured a competition for the best-decorated house, cultural shows, parades, and exhibitions.
There is no other festival like Pahiyas in the Philippines! It's definitely a one of a kind event worth visiting.