Judging Controversy Mars 2006 Lucban Pahiyas

This website is lucky to have secured a copy of an eMail sent to a cousin in America by a prominent Lucbanin, who, in the same mail, bared his personal thoughts about the judging controversy that marred the 2006 Lucban Pahiyas Festival.

The email writer is Mr SALVII CASINO . His executive profile summary is also in this site to provide you, our dear web visitor, with a fuller understanding of “where (he) is coming from” in this matter. Mr CASINO’s eMail is reproduced here in its original form —— unabridged and unedited.


Hi, DENISE and EVERYBODY there ——

Thank GOD that the medical processes that you have undergone are successful. GOD loves you! And we all love you, too!

Thanks also for the warm birthday greetings you sent my daughter thru my e-mail! These are her contact points: (63.927) 8000.806 / abcd123@gmail.com.

As I write this e-mail LEO ORACION of our very own Lucban, Quezon is reported to have become the first Filipino ever to reach the peak of Mount Everest . MABUHAY TAYONG MGA LUCBANIN!!!

I just saw your 08 May e-messages. My wife and I just got back home from our annual one-week creative Tagaytay workshops, (patterned after the world-famous Rockford workshops in Maine ), plus a four-day photo shoot of the Pahiyas in Lucban. Bumagyo ng ubod ng lakas. There was fog in Tagaytay at the height of the Philippine summer in May. This is highly unusual because fog covers Tagaytay only in the Philippine-equivalent winter months of November thru January every year. Kita mo rito kung gaano kalakas ang bagyong si Carlos. Typhoon Carlos left more than a dozen persons dead in its wake. Many were injured and more were rendered homeless. After exiting the Philippine area of responsibility, Typhoon Carlos went up and devastated China where it claimed many more lives and destroyed many more properties.

I have a photographic exhibition in Lucban as part of the 2006 Pahiyas Festival. Binagyo rin. It opened on 10th May sa harap ng simbahan in my absence, as we were still in Tagaytay at the time. Quezon Governor Enverga and Lucban Mayor Bonbon graced the opening, and as guests came by and visited the area until midnight of the opening day, Typhoon Carlos came blowing in. Well, it became the first photo exhibition ever to be covered by plastic sheets. The exhibit director, Francis Nanawa, son of the late indefatigable Lucban artist, Nanding Nanawa, reported that the response was positive. People were impressed daw, inspite of the plastic covers. That makes me happy. I only saw my own exhibit, or what’s left of it, early in the evening of San Isidro , bago baklasin yung mga photos at ilipat sa SM Lucena City. It will run in Lucena until 31st May, nang wala nang plastic covers. I understand that there are details in www.pahiyasfestival.com.

Hindi rin kami nakapag-shoot ng todo todo. The cloudy skies failed to reveal the brilliant colours of the KIPINGs, maski na sa film o sa digital camera man. There were not as many San Isidro visitors as last year’s. Kasi nga bumagyo with Typhoon Carlos covering the length from Samar to Bicol to Southern Luzon to Metro Manila. Siempre, takot ang mga prospective visitors na ma-stranded.

At saka, grabeng mahal na ng gasolina dito sa atin. Doon sa Expedition namin na hinayupak lumaklak ng gas, the full tank of 96 liters @ P40.40 per liter, or almost P4,000, is a true bankbreaker. P4,000 is equivalent to the price of 4 sacks of rice, or 40 kilos of dressed chicken, or 100 DVDs and DIVXs from those pirates in Quiapo.

Put simply, the Philippine economy under Dr Gloria, PhD in Economics, is nothing glorious to exult about. There are only 2 days in the 365-day year that the Philippine economy is well under Gloria—— April Fools Day and Ninos Inocentes.

BUDDY and NOVA VELUZ of the hugely successful BUDDY BURGER business have a new house in Daang Mauban. Doon sa dating pansitan nung Alejo. The land area is small at 240 sq. meters only. But the house rises to six stories. It is very beautiful. Imposing. Materiales Fuertes. Impressive. Pwedeng mai-feature sa Architectural Digest. May sariling elevator, which is a first in Lucban. Ang sabi-sabi nga ng mga Lucbanin, kaya nga raw nagbro-brownout sa Lucban, ay dahil sinisipsip daw nung elevator ni Veluz yung kuryenteng para sana sa bayan. This is, of course, funny and very Lucbanin. The house has its own generator.

This year, daan ng San Isidro doon sa kanila, kaya naman, bumongga ang pamilya Veluz. The result—— THE MOST SPECTACULAR PAHIYAS EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR FESTIVAL.

The Veluz pahiyas took all of Php 500,000.00 (!), as in half a million pesos (!), to design and mount, and took an Art Department Manager of a major TV network, 30 electricians, 30 kiping workers, and 40 others three months to prepare, and three stormy days and nights to finish the set up! When done, the Veluz pahiyas was an awesome sight to behold! All six stories of kiping arangyas and designs and incredible wall imagings of San Isidro Labrador done in kipings of all colours and sizes! Quite simply, there was nothing like it at anytime, anywhere.

In my more than a generation of being a creative media professional, I can easily say that not even the government of the Republic of the Philippines has come close in the delivery of such stationary cultural and tourism presentation of great artistic design and popular impact.

Established in 1577, Lucban, Quezon was largely a farming town. The Lucban Pahiyas Festival started centuries ago as a religious event designed by priests and missionaries from Spain and Portugal to acknowledge and thank the European Patron Saint of Farmers, SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR, for the farm’s bounty in the past year.

Lucbanins, being a highly creative lot, found ways to create their religious offerings to San Isidro in more interesting and artistic ways, starting with simple designs and crafts from the farm and growing in complexity thru the years.

Today, the LUCBAN PAHIYAS FESTIVAL has grown into a religious and cultural event of national significance and, even with limited support coming from the Philippine government, became a huge world tourism attraction, The National Geographic Society has described the Lucban Pahiyas as “a visual feast” and “one of the most artistic and colourful festivals in the whole world”.

Because of the immense success and popularity that the Lucban Pahiyas has earned thru the decades, the crass commercialism of the 1980s crept into the festival, and with it, the introduction of conducting prize money-driven annual competition among individual pahiyas houses.

(The gross commercial intrusion into the current pahiyas displays, by way of the forced hanging of atrociously printed huge house number sheets, is an absolute bother to us photographers and videographers, and all the other San Isidro guests and visitors.

(The intruding number sheets are displayed prominently among the Pahiyas purportedly to identify the houses in guidance of the year’s judges when they make the rounds, but in reality, they are nothing but a cunning advertising ploy to piggy back the huge logo of the sponsoring brand resulting in its stealing the attention from the artistic ethnicity of the festival.

(The festival organizers should charge those intruding brands, on the basis of a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal, the additional sponsorship amount of Php 10,000.00 per day per house where their logos are displayed, as penalty for disturbing the artistic culture of the Pahiyas festival.

(This should be imposed as additional charge to the cost of advertising rights, which, in the first place, should be pegged at no less than Php 2 million, as premium to participating in a premier event in the Philippines—— a rare gem of an event where a potential visitor/guest count could reach to a minimum of 100,000 heads during the festival itself.

(The Php 10,000 per day per house additional premium is actually “cost efficient” on the part of the participating sponsor; to wit, Php 10,000.00 divided by 100,000 visitors/guests costs the advertiser only Php 0.10 per head (!).

(Multiply Php 10,000 per day per house by the number of pahiyas houses, and the organizing committee of the religious San Isidro festival makes oodles of additional income; to wit, Php 10,000 per house x 100 Pahiyas houses = Php 1,000,000.00.

(If no sponsor wants the deal, then the better it is for Lucban, because we shall have maintained the artistic integrity of our original Lucban Pahiyas before crass commercialism adulterated the festival—— one that ran successfully for centuries without the logos of cellphones, hotdogs, and detergent soaps.

(The clogging of Lucban’s central areas with the commerce of sponsoring brands is an absolute headache to pedestrians and serves only as visual pollutant to the historied architectures of the Lucban Church and Municipal Hall and the internationally famous statues that are the town’s heritage; and, the cleaning of the garbage alone that those commercial sponsors leave behind the day after takes a huge cut from the costs of participation rights that they pay out to the festival organizers. So, who really loses in the long run? These disturbances are enough reason for the organizing committee of the religious San Isidro festival to charge the advertisers and sponsors more, much much more if they are to participate in our Pahiyas festival? but, that’s another story.

(Lest I be misunderstood, I declare that I am not against “commerce”. What I deplore is “crass commercialism” and the onerous sponsorship deals that make our Lucban town seem like a beggar for advertising crumbs.)

In the late afternoon of this year’s San Isidro , as has now become the tradition, the much anticipated verdict of the official 2006 Pahiyas judges came in. And the Veluz pahiyas won as—— the Third Honourable Mention awardee for 2006! Translation: 4th Place !! WHAT!?!?!?!? Only in Lucban!!! Only in the Philippines !!!

The 2006 judges awarded the Grand Prize to “that one little house with the ‘cute’ Pahiyas”!!!

The Grand Prize money is P50,000. So it is easy to see that the half-a-million peso/three-month Veluz pahiyas initiative was clearly not after any prize money.

It is obvious that the enormous six-story Veluz pahiyas was all about the Veluzes’ personal satisfaction and their individual passion for the arts. And, love for Lucban. Yes, it was one highly expensive way to thank a patron saint. But that was the personal choice of the house owners. To the Veluzes, affordability is a “no problem” problem. They are luckier than most of us, because, perhaps, they work harder than most of us. Perhaps, they use their common sense much more than most of us do, So, no one among us has the right to begrudge them for having more money than what most of us hide under the pillow.

And so, for any judge to say that the Veluzes did not need the prize money because they are already rich, and, therefore, should not be made to win the grand prize in the 2006 Pahiyas competition, is an absolute idiocy!

I have been news director and chief broadcast image designer of the two largest networks in the Philippines— a journalist and creative media professional in the same breath —and my works have been validated by awards. I have also judged and chaired past Lucban Pahiyas festivals, and major national events.

I was a special speaker in the 2006 INTERNATIONAL PHOTOWORLD EXPOSITION in Manila together with other award-winning foreign photojournalists and photographic professionals, JEFFREY AARONSON, MICHAEL GLEN TAYLOR, and VICKI AND TED TAUFER. I was a judge, together with TIME Magazine’s NELLY SINDAYEN and author, MANNY DULDULAO, in the milestone photographic competition commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Philippine’s foremost camera club, the CAMERA CLUB OF THE PHILIPPINES, and in another major competition of the other premier Philippine camera club, ZONE V, which focused on the Pahiyas itself,

I do not mention these to brag, but only to show that I know from where I speak about the matter at hand.

The very impressive sixty-meter wide / six-story high Veluz pahiyas was so huge that it is incomprehensible for the 2006 judges to have missed getting impressed by it and giving it its due recognition.

The humongous Veluz pahiyas creative display was so awesome that by its sheer size alone it has placed itself in a class by itself. The Veluz house is the largest residential edifice in Lucban today. There has never been anything as large in the more than four centuries that Lucban has existed. When dressed up for the Pahiyas this year, it practically blew all competition away.

It would have been commonsensical for the 2006 Pahiyas judges to have placed the Veluz pahiyas out of the regular competition and to have given it instead a “SPECIAL 2006 LUCBAN PAHIYAS GRAND PRIZE without the accompanying prize money”. Or, “THE SPECIAL 2006 GRAND PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD”. Whatever. But, huwag lang “3rd Honourable Mention! Naman, naman!! Ano ba’ng nakain ng mga judges? Baka kaya may formalin yung nainom na lambanog? “Di kaya? Kanino bang anak ‘yang mga huradong ‘yan?

That decision is embarrassing for the 2006 Pahiyas judges themselves, as the tens of thousands of Pahiyas guests and visitors, who have seen and marveled at the awesome Veluz display, have already unanimously, silently in their heart, awarded the grand prize to it, even before the official 2006 Pahiyas judges came up with their own decision. In this case, the Veluzes are the people’s champions; the 2006 judges, the festival killjoys.

That decision of the 2006 Pahiyas judges is, likewise, embarrassing for the whole town of Lucban itself, because it was Lucban that picked out and chose, thru its festival organizing committee, the judges that made the embarrassing decision.

Show me your friends and I will tell you the kind of a person you are. Choose your Pahiyas judges and I will tell you the kind of a town your Lucban town is.

While it was reported that one of the 2006 judges acknowledged the uniqueness of the Veluz pahiyas and offered the suggestion during the judges’ Deliberation to pull it out of competition and give it a special award instead, a municipal official present in that meeting readily shot down the recommendation by declaring that the festival “has neither money left for establishing an additional special prize fund nor cash left for the emergency printing of the special citation that would go with the special prize” (!?!?).

It would seem now that all the 2006 judges did not give the matter meaningful thought as they went on to declare the GRAND Veluz pahiyas Third Honourable Mention winner, and gave the Grand Prize Award to “that little house with the ‘cute’ Pahiyas”.

Very clearly, there was this one particular ad hoc group here— composed of artistic, academic, and marketing industry professionals comprising the 2006 Board of Lucban Pahiyas Festival Judges —who chose to use the 2006 Pahiyas event to showcase their individual political prejudice that concerns the poor and the rich, and, at the same time, deliberately, dismally dismissed the very huge difference between the descriptive words, “cute” and “GRAND”, as practical judging criterium.

Of course, “GRAND” is never a sure ticket to any creative championship, But so does “cute”. This evens up the playing field. The overriding and commonsensical judging criterium in this particular case, therefore, should have been the “degree of positive IMPACT” That the competing pahiyas would have on the year’s festival, on the town, on the province, the region, the nation, and ultimately, on the San Isidro Pahiyas tradition.

The 2006 Lucban Pahiyas Event is very lucky with the Veluz initiative in that, in the same breath, the long standing culture of creativity that has long defined the San Isidro Festival is elevated to a much higher level .

The town of Lucban is luckiest here in that, in the same breath, the grand Veluz pahiyas helps strengthen the town’s stake to one of the very few original and significant cultural and religious festivals in the Philippines in its successful mounting and unselfish sharing with everyone a world-class work of ethnic art that is exclusively Lucbanin in flavour and design “except that the 2006 Pahiyas judges failed to see, or refused to see, or did not have the right sense to see it that way”.

A GMA news team is bivouacked in Lucban since the eve of San Isidro . I assume that GMA had advance knowledge of Lucbanin LEO ORACION’s possible sure rise to the topmost part of Planet Earth today, 17th May, and, therefore, a live reaction interview with Leo’s family in Lucban would be one great headline news item. The coverage of the 2006 San Isidro Festival would, therefore, be a welcome bonus for the GMA guests to enjoy in the meantime.

I only mention this because the multi-award winning broadcast journalist and fearless news director, JESSICA SOHO, was also in Lucban and had interviews with the Veluzes, the last one reportedly being the morning after San Isidro .

This means that there is a chance that this coming Saturday night’s ANG INYONG KAPUSO: JESSICA SOHO / JESSICA SOHO REPORTS programme might feature, together with Leo Oracion’s top story, the 2006 Lucban Pahiyas event, and within it, the “cute vs GRAND” judging controversy.

JESSICA’s public affairs show is consistently a TOP 5 programme rater in official industry surveys. This means that its broadcast is watched by an average of 30 million televiewers nationwide and by audiences abroad in major international cities where GMA broadcasts reach them.

Now imagine 30 million viewers getting from today’s undisputed Philippine broadcast industry leader the lowdown behind the facts of the embarrassing “cute vs GRAND” decision of the 2006 Pahiyas judges, and you have 30 million heads shaking in disbelief.

It is easy to be a judge in the Lucban Pahiyas events. You just have to be fair in your judgment. You just have to open your mind. Throw all your selfish political biases and prejudices. As a judge, do not flaunt your power and authority over all the rest of us by being as officious as to make any drastic decision— just to be different. Remember, you can’t go wrong with good old common sense. God gifted it to each one of us. Use it properly. Use your head. Together with your heart.


We learned these from Ate Iday, Ate Cedeng and Ate Batis in the kindergarten. These were what the ordinary folks had when they gave their silent unofficial unanimous vote for the Veluz pahiyas. Sadly, the five 2006 Pahiyas judges disagreed with the tens of thousands of them. Sadly, it is the four centuries-old town of Lucban that gets the black eye. A town that cannot judge its own festival winner rightly does not deserve to be taken seriously.

Aba , ay yano aring mga ari, at natanda ay paurong?!!! Aba , ay pag-igi! Isikotaay’ii, ay bali!!! Kanino na nga bang mga anak yang mga huradong yan, ha? Hala, at nang maibitin nang patiwarik!

Until the next San Isidro na hindi na yata daan sa bahay ng mga Veluz sa Daang Mauban. Dumaan man uli doon, baka ganang limampung pisong sungsong na lang ang kanilang ipapayas. At ni wala nang Christmas lights na kukutikutitap at tatanglaw at magpapasaya sa gabi ni San Isidro Labrador de Lucban.

Wala na tayong magagawa kundi sumigaw na lamang ng: MABUHAY SI LEO ORACION!!! MABUHAY ANG ATING INANG LUCBAN!!!


6:03pm Wednesday 17 May 2006

106th Birthday ni Lolo Venancio (Tatay Bina) Saliendra

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