Alab Pilipinas

Pahiyas an ‘offering’ to God

'The idea of the festival is to offer everything to the Lord'

PAHIYAS FESTIVAL. Quezon locals celebrate Pahiyas as an offering to God. Photo by Joulo Visabella

MANILA, Philippines – Colorful ornaments like the rice wafer kiping, fruits, vegetables, and other crops adorned houses in Lucban, Quezon as locals celebrated the annual Pahiyas festival as a form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.

Marked every May 15, the Pahiyas is an offering of thanks. “The idea of the festival is to offer everything to the Lord,” said local prelate Msgr Antonio Obeña.

Pahiyas began during the Spanish era when Spaniards introduced the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador, to the people of Lucban. Filipinos then honored San Isidro on his feast day, May 15, by bringing their harvests to church to be blessed by a priest.

Time came when the crop-offerings wouldn’t fit inside the church anymore, and after consulting with the parish priest, the locals decided to display the crops outside their houses instead. The priests would then bless their harvests during the annual procession for San Isidro.

Eventually, the tradition turned into a house decorating contest with harvested crops and the leaf-shaped rice wafer kiping, giving birth to the Pahiyas that is known today. 

Residents’ offerings

For this year’s Pahiyas, locals maximized their savings and stocks.

Resident Victor Juacalla told Rappler his family either harvested or bought from the town market ornaments for their Pahiyas. These included mostly rice stalks and grains, fruits, and vegetables, though he did not mention how much they spent.

“It took us three months to gather our displays for the Pahiyas, including the time we spent conceptualizing the theme,” Juacalla said in Filipino.

The family of Silvino Racoma, for his part, spent over P100,000 for what he considers the most expensive Pahiyas. His family had a 3-storey display with the usual ornaments.

“Technically, this thing pays a lot for most of us contenders for the Pahiyas contest. Yet we’re not aiming for the prize. It’s just that we thank God through San Isidro so much for these overwhelming blessings, and our Pahiyas would like to justify that,” Racoma said.

It was a different case, however, for Eupheia Solis, with her house decorated with handmade hats, bags, purses, fans, and baskets. Her family spent nothing for their Pahiyas.

Hindi naman mahalaga na gumastos kami nang malaki sa Pahiyas namin… Basta ba makapagpasalamat kami kay San Isidro sa lahat ng biyayang natanggap at makahiling ng malakas na pangangatawan, lalo na para sa lola, masaya na kami,” Solis said.

(It’s not important that we spend a big amount for the Pahiyas… As long as we get to thank San Isidro for all the graces we received, and get to pray for our health especially for our matriarch’s, we are happy.) –