I had my much needed urban escape last Wednesday, thanks to Culture Shock’s day trip to Quezon Province. The agenda for that day was to walk around the festive town of Lucban in the morning as they celebrate Pahiyas Festival, then move to Tayabas in the afternoon to witness another celebration, the Mayohan Festival. Both are thanksgiving celebrations for a bountiful harvest and in honor of San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.
San Luis Obispo Parish
As to why the town’s church was named after another person instead of San Isidro de Labrador is still a personal puzzle. Built in the Spanish era, the church has become an icon of Lucban and its neighboring towns, towering over the area with its stone structure. This is our first official stop for the tour, as I didn’t count our breakfast in Buddy’s as the official start.
Walk around town
I soon learned that every year, the organizing committee of Pahiyas Festival specifies a route for the procession of San Isidro. Residents along this route shall then decorate their home’s facade with different produce, each vying for the prestigious award for having the most creative house for that year’s Pahiyas Festival. My eyes were overwhelmed with the townsfolk’s creativity. They used varied colors of kiping (rice wafer), vegetables, even life-size straw people and woven carabaos. Some connected these characters to machines so they move nonstop. Brilliant. Filipinos are just brilliant.
Sleepy Tayabas town
We arrived in Tayabas thirty minutes past noon, and its atmosphere was the opposite of Lucban. It was sleepy, and there was no man in sight. Apparently, the people were also celebrating the feast day of San Isidro too, which they call Mayohan Festival (Tayabas has their own festival in honor of St. Michael the Archangel every September).
People converge in St. Michael the Archangel Church or Tayabas Church around 1 in the afternoon. They hear mass and go on a procession. Then at around 3pm, they gather in front of the municipal hall as they wait for the Hagisan ng Suman, an amusing part of their festival celebration.
Hagisan ng Suman
Traditionally, Tayabas is divided into two teams by the river across the city, the upstream and downstream. The town’s officials throw suman from the municipal hall’s veranda, and each team catch as many as they can. They pile every piece at the end of the game, and whoever has the most suman was believed to be more blessed in the coming year.
Tayabas does not do this now, but some developments were witnessed over the years. After catching suman from the municipal hall, these men would walk around town, stopping by houses who would throw goodies from their verandas or windows. Also, men can change positions every year. You can be a catcher this year, and a generous pitcher next. Generosity in its amusing form.
Old Spanish Bridge
As the day tour approached its end, we stopped by an old Spanish bridge unnoticeable from the national highway. It is now free from vehicular traffic because a new road has been built beside it. It is now a ‘heritage’ bridge, considering its age, rarity and form.
Thank you, Culture Shock PH, for making this trip possible.
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