“When is the Best Time” – Tips for a Wonderful Pahiyas Experience

The Pahiyas Festival, or officially known as the Lucban San Isidro Pahiyas Festival happens only once a year, every May 15. Regardless of the day it falls, be it a weekend or a Monday, the celebration must go on as it is Catholic feast of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

There are lots of events happening prior to the festival day itself – concerts, singing and dancing competition, street dancing, beauty pageant and other cultural events. But as many people asks, “do we see the decorated houses before May 15”? The answer is a BIG NO! The culmination of the festivities happen only in just one and only one day – on May 15 and that’s where all the houses are decorated with colorful kiping and farm produce, when all the grand activities happen, from morning till about midnight or early dawn. So it’s worth following our tips (which we arranged chronologically from morning till night) so you can have a memorable and wonderful experience of the Pahiyas, the country’s most colorful harvest festival!

When is the best time to be in Lucban?
If you want to catch the festival mass, you should be in Lucban before it starts at 6:00 am. For those coming from Manila by bus or car, travel time is about 2.5-4 hours so better leave early at around 2-3am. The shorter and common route is the Calamba-Pagsanjan route if you are coming from the south but you will pass a 30-minute zigzag road from Pagsanjan to Luisiana in Laguna. A longer but a bit safer route is through the San Pablo-Lucena route, from 3-4 hours. The shortest and most scenic route however, but somehow treacherous due its zigzag and steep ravine, is via Antipolo-Laguna route, a mere 1-2 hour drive. The procession of the image of San Isidro follows after the mass.

When is the best time to take photos?
The colors of the Pahiyas makes even a non-photographer gaze in awe! The best time to take photos? Between 5-6 or 7am when there are less people on the streets to block the view of the houses and the sun is just starting to shine, rendering a subtle but ample lighting to your every shot.

When is the best time to shop at the Tiyangge?
After a stroll and picture taking of Pahiyas houses, head to the town center for souvenirs, delicacies, plants and other mementos that will give you memories of the Pahiyas. Bring your own disposable or reusable bags or eco-bag to put your purchases as plastic bags are not allowed in Lucban anymore. Or you can buy native bags or “bayong” (but in Lucban it is called “balulang”).

When (and where) is the best time to eat for lunch or snack?
Restaurants abound at the center of Lucban but expect long lines of diners. There are also kiosks and make-shift stands that sells snacks and drinks along the streets. Try the famous pansit hab-hab or pansit Lucban served in banana leaves and is called “hab-hab” because of the manner of eating it directly to your mouth, without using any utensils. For lunch, there is the Lucban langgonisa, hardinera, embotido and desserts of broas and tikoy. This is also the best time to rest.

When (and where) is the best time to watch the grand parade?
The Pahiyas Grand Parade starts at about 2pm from the church patio. After resting, head to the Roman Catholic Church for a photo-op with participants before the parade. You can also catch them along the streets of the Pahiyas but the best is within the vicinity of the church and along Lopez Jaena, Gen. Lukban, La Purisima Concepcion and near the Lucban Public Market where the parade is still in good formation, the participants are still in their best attire and aura, and tourists don’t block the parade to take selfies and photographs.

When is the best time to leave for home? (if you will take public transportation)
Jeepneys and vans are stationed outside of Lucban. Take a tricycle that will take you there (Lucena-side or Laguna-side) by 5pm before hordes of visitor race to take a ride home.

And if you will stay for the night, catch the Pahiyas houses at around 7-8pm when they are lighted and equally attractive when seen during the day. Or you can watch the concert of known bands and artists from Manila at the town center or stroll along the streets with friends and families.

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