Lucban, 3-4 hours south of Manila, is an upland town in the province of Quezon (one of the largest Philippine provinces in terms of land area), is a bustling community of about 46,000 people. Postcard perfect, this is basically a traditional Southern Tagalog quiet municipality with narrow roads, a bunch of Spanish-era houses and a genteel yet provincial charm framed with the distant shadows of the mighty Mount Banahaw and rolling farmlands in the background.
Lucban is pretty much synonymous with the famous Pahiyas Festival, celebrated every 15th of May – and it is this Philippine festival that made Lucban a must-see destination for those exploring the decadently multicultural and multifaceted country that is the Philippines. The festival dates back hundreds of years, long before the arrival of the Spaniards and started out as an animistic ritual for the locals to honor their gods for their bountiful harvest and believing that celebrating this great fortune would ensure another bountiful year ahead.
When the Spaniards arrived around the 16th century, the festival was appropriated to suit the Catholic taste (as it was the same with the Kalibo Ati-atihan). The Spanish friars introduced San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore) to the natives and shifted the allegiance basically from the animist gods to the Christian God whilst continuing the tradition of thanksgiving and prayers for more abundant harvests to come. The townsfolk started to bring their best harvest to the church for its blessing and later on, with the increasing bounty they started putting it outside their doors instead with the statue of San Isidro going out in a procession.
The most traditional and certainly the most attractive décor comes of course in the form of kiping which adorn houses and are strung together to form all sorts of shapes, from chandeliers called arangya to huge flowers.
These colourful kiping exemplify the festiveness of Philippine celebrations.
Lucban longganisa (longganisa/langgonisa are Philippine-style sausages) above, are the smaller and the less sour version of their Vigan counterparts but not the less flavorful. It is a good compromise for those who cannot take the sourness and spiciness of the Vigan Longganisa.
We used to call this bukayo at home. A favourite of mine growing up in the provinces.
The island hop in Tayabas Bay usually includes the Isla Puting Buhangin – a sizable island with a decent small strip of mixed sand and coral beach in a cove. It also a features a tiny cave called Kwebang Lampas where you can wade inside in about 4 feet of water. The boat trip to the island is uneventful (about 20 minutes).
The island has a major coal power plant, which is a big turn off. Another nearby island is the Patayan Island (photo above), a small mangrove lined island with a mixed coral and pebbles sandbar that extends quite a long way into the sea. Trips to the island are usually launched from the resorts on the coast of Pagbilao town. A big disappointment was the Balugbog Baboy or the Bilaran Sandbar. According to local boatmen, the sandbar practically disappeared after nearby resorts and homes quarried the sand indiscriminately, effectively destroying it.
One of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines and in the world. The annual Pahiyas Festival is a time when the citizens of Lucban, Quezon decorate their homes with fruit, vegetables and various other things to be blessed by a saint for a bountiful harvest. We wandered the streets for a few hours and then headed out to Puting Buhangin and Patayan Island in Tayabas Bay.