Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Pahiyas Festival 2016: Lucban, Quezon with side trips to San Pablo, Liliw and Los Banos, Laguna

It was a trip that we had our eyes on since we had kids.  We felt that our daughters should be exposed to the happy disposition and colorful culture of the Filipinos if we bring them out to see and experience the festivals in the Philippines. 

Actually this was more of Ramir’s idea than mine.  He just convinced me to go.  I honestly feel that travelling to a place where there’s a scheduled big event doubles the effort since you would need to contend with a lot of considerations like parking, waiting time, long lines, etc.  But I believe him when he said that we should at least try.

The nearest we can think of was the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. This happens on May 15th every year to pay homage to Lucban’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador.  We felt it was something that we can do on a budget since it was near Manila.  This 2016, May 15th falls on a Sunday.  Since we would just need to file a one-day leave from work to enjoy a 3-day holiday, we went ahead.
The whole experience was fun and memorable, especially to our kids. These are what we can share with you.

Lucban, Quezon is around 3 hours drive from Manila.  But we took longer since we did some side trips.  We went through San Pablo, Laguna to see the Sampaloc Lake.  Then made another stopover in in Liliw, Laguna before we reached Lucban.  I think we made the right decision in going a day ahead and leaving the day after since we had time to relax and not really go with the bulk of the crowd. 

SIDETRIPS to San Pablo and Liliw, Laguna

1. Do a side trip to see the Sampaloc Lake. Try the lomi if you go hungry.
We just thought it would be nice to see a piece of nature while passing by San Pablo, Laguna.  It offered a nice view of the sun, the lake and the mountain.  Since we were starving, we also tried the lomi house overlooking the lake.  It was the right pitstop. 

2. Visit the Liliw Church and buy yourself Liliw-made shoes and slippers
We really went for the shoes and the slippers.  But when we saw the church, we felt that we should pay our homage and visit too.  We love churches in the provinces.  We feel that they exude that old-but-beautiful vibe.  The slippers and the shoes were also very affordable.  And I should say, I love their espadrilles. 

PAHIYAS FESTIVAL: What you can do (we tried all these)

1. Try Kamayan sa Palaisdaan
There’s a floating restaurant in Malabon but this one is different since it was huge.  We went in early Friday night to make sure that we would be seated immediately.  We heard that it would go crazy and jam packed come actual Pahiyas Day.  Their Filipino entrees were good.  And the ambiance added to the festive vibe.  As expected, people were going in and out of the restaurant.  It took us quite a while to be seated but the wait was worth it.  I suggest you come earlier so you’re not super hungry by the time it’s lunch or dinner.

2. Try the different activities at Batis Aramin
Batis Aramin offers resort-type accommodation in Lucban, fronting Kamay ni Hesus.  We had our reservation almost three months ahead to make sure that we’ll have something to stay in.  Since Pahiyas falls on a Sunday, we anticipated that places to stay around the Pahiyas route would be hard to come by as the fiesta draws near.  It was a little farther from all the happenings since but it was very accessible.  We just rode a trike for 5 minutes and where there.  What’s good about Batis Aramin, there were several activities that were available for kids.  They swam and played around the resort after going to the festival.

3. Climb the steps and hear mass at Kamay ni Hesus
It was a feat for me and my daughters.  We climbed and reached the top.  It was a happy sacrifice.  We went to hear mass after our climb.  It was scorching.  We brought bottled water, hat, fan and towels to counter the heat and humidity.

4. Try the pancit habhab, longganisang lucban ang kiping
All of these are sold in the streets.  We ate pancit habhab sans utensils.  We queued and endured long lines to avail of fresh longganisa being prepared right before our eyes. I must say that I don’t have feelings for the longganisa since I don’t eat pork but my husband and daughters liked it.  Fried kiping are also sold on the streets. It tasted like chicharon, only this is doused with sugar.

5. Go on a pasalubong-shopping spree
Apas, longganisang lucban, broas, miki lucban, uraro, puto seko, even native bayong.  We had a field day hoarding products to bring home and give away.

6. Go around the procession route for the wonderful decorated houses
The houses were really a sight to behold.  Two thumbs up for Filipino creativity and ingenuity.  Amazing effort.  And it was really commendable that everyone participated.  It
was a long walk but we didn’t get tired because we’re really sight-seeing.

7. Stay around and watch the afternoon parade
The streets were full.  People lined up the streets and waited for the parade.  Beautiful ladies and gentlemen paraded their garb of native dresses.  There were higantes, decorated carts, drum and bugle, the works. With the long stretch of attractions, I must say that the standing and waiting paid off.

8. Go back at night for the Kutitap where the decorated houses are all lighted up
The houses are lovely during day but they exude a different feel at night.  It seemed like Christmas in May.

SIDETRIP for the Original Buko Pie in Los Banos (going back to Manila)

So as not to go with the pack of people going back to Manila on the same day as the Pahiyas, we decided to go home the day after. I think we made the right decision since it was easy breezy traveling back.  And the happy surprise was, when we pass by the famous Original Buco Pie in Los Banos, Laguna, there’s no line. It was the perfect cap to a short but memorable Pahiyas experience.

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