Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Quezon & Laguna: Pahiyas, Mayohan sa Tayabas, atbp.

This was my second straight year at the Pahiyas festival. Due to the storm which had just left the country, Lucban was covered by a blanket of fog. In fact, for most of the morning, the climate was like that of Baguio. The air was cool but a little more humid than in the summer capital.

We left the resthouse at 5:45 a.m. by tricycle since we didn't want our van to get stuck in town. For breakfast, it was Lucban longganiza, sinangag and fried egg. Then we joined the procession which left the church at 7:10 a.m. The procession is the best way to view the decorations since it is only the homes and businesses along the procession route which are decorated.

The procession route changes every year. And you have to wait several years before you are given the chance to decorate. For one, decorating is very costly and doing it every year will create big dents in one's budget. So the route changes to give residents a chance to join in the festivities once or twice in a decade and a chance to save up and prepare for their next turn.

I felt that last year was a bigger celebration than this year. For one, the weather was still unpredictable. And it even rained the night before. Second, the Pahiyas fell on a Sunday last year so the crowds were thicker. I was also disappointed that they used a school band in crew neck t-shirts for the procession. I was charmed by last year's band which was elegant in their traditional band costumes. Oh well!

Since I have a previous entry on the Pahiyas and other San Isidro Labrador celebrations, please check it out for detailed information. The photos of the entry are in Friendster so if they blocked Friendster in your school or office, that would explain why the photos don't show up.

Anyway, after going around to check out the decors and do some shopping, we went back to the resthouse before lunch to load all our stuff in the van. Our next stop was the neighboring town of Tayabas, the former provincial capital. Just like many Philippine towns and cities, the elegant town of Tayabas was bombed by American forces. Sigh!

The town lost all of its grand mansions in the poblacion. I was told that the Americans were targeting the church but for some reason, the bombs missed. And thank God they did since it would have been such a tragedy if American bombs destroyed this national cultural treasure!

The Minor Basilica of St. Michael and the nearby Casa Communidad de Tayabas is all that remains of this once grand town. Sigh! I wonder how many grand old towns and cities the American forces carpet bombed during the Second World War.

We were lucky since Dr. Leticia Yap was in town. Dr. Yap is a native of Tayabas but lived most of her life in San Fernando since her husband is from there. She was at one time a provincial board member of Pampanga. Anyway, we joined her for lunch at their home. After the sumptuous lunch, we were off to Sariaya to view the old houses.

For some reason, Sariaya was better the first time I visited last year. The mayor built a big eyesore, a multi-purpose hall, in a very elegant art deco town plaza. They could have at least made sure that the architecture of this new structure matched the flamboyance of its surroundings.

But there was an obvious change with the colors of the municipio. From a plain white facade, the current colors exude the art deco flair. I know it has elicited mixed reactions but if you want to be historically accurate, you will have to follow color schemes of the period, no matter how flashy they are. Again, a detailed account is in last year's entry.

After a short walking tour, it was back to Tayabas to witness the hagisan ng suman. For a Monday, I was shocked to see that there were double or even triple the number of participants in the procession. Was this a sign of trying times? Because last year, I could still stand behind the anda of San Isidro Labrador. But this year it was a mad rush for the suman flying in the air in the thousands. And I didn't want to suffer a Wowowee! simply to take photos in the middle of the rushing crowd. Hehe!

But from the sidelines, this practice was so intriguing and definitely worth watching! I wonder if there have been any studies made on this and similar religious practices such as the Nazareno procession in Quiapo; why people would risk their lives driven by an ounce of faith, and in the case of Tayabas, a possible windfall of suman.

From Tayabas, we motored back to Lucban and then to Majayjay to visit the old church which is also a national cultural treasure. Driving along the mountain roads offered magnificent views of the slopes of Mount Banahaw and the numerous streams which flowed from it. Looking up at the towering fortress-like Church of San Gregorio Magno was just awe-inspiring. I could just imagine how it looked when there were just a few houses and forests all around it.

We then proceeded to the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery but it was closed when we got there. At the gate was a sign which said that due to the government's energy conservation program, the cemetery was open only from Tuesday to Saturday. Hello? I could understand Monday but to close it on a Sunday, that is ridiculous!

Anyway, after a few photos, it was back to Manila. What a day! More photos in My Heritage Photos. Click on Laguna and Quezon.


  1. Anonymous16.5.06

    Hi Ivan! It's such a delight to read your blog. I just happen to stumble upon your site.

    I'm actually planning on visiting the Philippines next year. I'm planning on driving to Vigan from Manila. So, I intend to stop at Pampanga. Any suggestions to make my drive worthwhile? I've been travelling to Europe yearly and your blog convince me to go back and visit my country....and my parent's heritage - Pampanga! I'm even bringing friends from Southern California and they've never been to the Philippines. I hope I could show them the beauty of our country despite the chaotic city of Metro Manila. Is it worth visiting Vigan nowadays?

    Hope I could correspond via email to get advices/tips from you.


  2. Hi John! Yes, Vigan is very much worth visiting. When touring the Philippines, make sure you satisfy your friends five senses.

    From Manila stopover at San Fernando, Pampanga for lunch either at Everybody's Cafe for a la carte or at Partyland for buffet Kapampangan food. Then drive up to Tarlac and visit the Camp O'Donnell Death March Memorial in Capas and the Ninoy Aquino Center Hacienda Luisita.

    You can opt to stay in Luisita for a night and hike to Mount Pinatubo the next day from Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.

    But if you don't have time, you will have to skip all that and proceed to La Union instead. If that is the case, you should leave Manila very early. Have breakfast in Luisita then drive straight to Luna, La Union to visit the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church which is a national cultural treasure.

    By lunch, after stopping over in the towns of Sta. Maria (to visit the World Heritage church), Sta. Lucia (again visit the local church), and Bantay (they have a nice belfry watchtower there), you should be in Vigan. Don't forget to try the empanada.

    You can opt to stay here for a night or leave Vigan by 3 p.m. if you want to stay in Laoag. Don't forget to stop by the town of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur to visit another national cultural treasure, and the church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

    You can have dinner in nearby Batac, home of the Marcos Mausoleum. The town is known for its empanada as well. Then the next day, go to Pagudpud, passing by the Cape Bojeador Light House in Burgos. Check out my blog entries for Ilocos. Thanks!

  3. Ivan, you seems to be everywhere. Are you ever at home? ;-)

    I was able to visit Lucban on the Monday. I was in Pulilan on Sunday.
    Lucban and the Pahiyas was very nice in the early morning. Too much people in the afternoon.

    Quite unique. I don't know if I will post my pictures this year or go back next year and combine all my pictures. I was not able to document the making of the kiping nor the start of the decorations. It would be nice to show the people the houses before and after the decorations. If I have enough material for my blog I will postpone it.

  4. Anonymous17.5.06

    Ivan, thanks for the tips! I'll be asking for more since I'll be touring the Philippines (North/Central). Wish my trip was as extensive as your blog here!

    Hope you don't mind me asking you more questions in this blog. Otherwise, I'll send it directly to your email.

    Any relation with the "Dayrit" restaurateurs (owns burger joints)?

  5. Anonymous17.5.06


    Driving to northern Luzon is fabulous and quite an experience and should you have enough time, it should keep you busy for at least 2 weeks!

    my ideal itenirary would be:

    1. From Metro Manila, drive up to to Banawe (via Cabanatuan, Nueva Vizcaya) - explore the Rice terraces and Sagada.
    2. Go down and continue to Kalinga province and go white water rafting. Also check out Cagayan Province for th Callao Caves.
    3. Cross over to Ilocos Norte and visit Pagudpud and the places Ivan mentioned.
    4. Head south to Ilocos Sur and visit Vigan (Santa Maria Church etc etc)
    5. Finally, head for Central Luzon (La Union, Pampanga etc etc- see Ivan's list) before ending it in Metro Manila.

    Btw, dont skip the Big M (Manila), it may be tattered around the edges but it certainly is nt boring.

  6. Yup, it's ok if you comment here so others could join in the discussion. We are related since they are also Dayrits from San Fernando if I'm not mistaken.

    Thanks for the input tokayo!

  7. Anonymous18.5.06


    Thanks for the tip! I checked your site! Guess what? I'll be there in October. Damn! I wish I could bump into you guys during my travel! I'll be doing the Camino in Compostela around October. After the 60-mile walk, off to the streets of Paris!

    Speaking of Madrid, check out the nightlife - JOY ESLAVA and ARCHIES!!! It's like party central like the good ole days in Makati!

  8. Anonymous18.5.06

    Hi Ivan!

    Since you’re quite involve in tourism and our country’s heritage, do you have any idea how our country is developing electronic information such as GPS mapping via cell phone. It would be quite nice if all these food establishments, street maps, national monuments/icons are in electronic forms. It would be so convenient for travelers to download them via internet to their cell phones, portable GPS or iPods! I’ve seen quite a select group of people like you that have peek curious minds from outside the Philippines. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could form a collective effort to organize this? Young travelers would be quite eager to visit our country knowing that all these infos are available online (NOT that I'm YOUNG!)

    Also, regarding Pampanga, are the signs around the region in both Kapampangan & Tagalog? I’ve notice in Europe that most signs are now written in 2 forms – old or regional & their main language. Have you ever notice if this is being done in cities you had visited?


    Anyone knows as to where I could get a reasonable rate to rent a car while I'm in Manila?

  9. Regarding GPS, I don't think I have any information. Pampanga has Kapampangan street signs also. But signage in the Philippines is close to nil. That is one thing I've been trying to stress to policy makers. To get to your destination, you have to ask the locals every once in a while.

    By the way, ManilaStreetWalker is also Ivan, my tokayo Ivan ManDy.

  10. Anonymous18.5.06


    You shouldnt have big problems navigating through the Philippine highway system, (at least) the major roads have signs but dont expect something like what theyd have in Europe or China-signs pointing to specific sites.

    That said,its fairly easy driving around Luzon as there's only one road towards everything.

    You can get a road atlas at one those major bookstores in Mania.


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