Pahiyas wouldn’t be complete without the kiping, the most important element of the festival. It is from these leaf-like wafers, which are adorned and arranged to form all sorts of shapes like arangya (chandeliers), orchids and flowers, that makes the Pahiyas one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines.
Kiping is made from ground rice flour so it is edible. It can be fried or roasted and looks like kropeck when done. It’s like tacos from Spain – thin, crunchy, brittle and delicate to handle. And how does it tastes? It’s tasteless so syrup or vinegar must be on the side for dipping.
photos by ed zurbano
Its Colors are derived from food coloring of radiant red, yellow, fuschia, green and now some variants come with blue, white and purple shades. When the sunlight strikes on them, a cascade of colors emanates creating a wonderful rainbow-like wall of colors.
There are some articles from websites and newspapers that spell kiping with 2 Ps, as in kipping. The correct one has only one P.
In earlier times, these kipings are given away for free after the procession of San Isidro has passed, which is done every afternoon and all the decorations are dismantled. When tourists came in to watch the Pahiyas, the tradition has changed. The Pahiyas decorations are kept until the night and the kipings are no longer distributed particularly now that the price of rice, its main ingredients have gone up.
A twist in the manufacture of kiping has also emerged. An enterprising Lucbanin came up with a kiping made of plastic and other materials that can last long and re-use. But these are not tolerated and its use is prohibited during the actual festival as it alters and threatens the ingenuity and authenticity of the festival.