Town expects 5M people to descend on ‘Pahiyas’
LUCBAN, Quezon—This town is expecting at least 5 million visitors when it celebrates tomorrow (May 15) the feast of its patron saint, San Isidro de Labrador, through the Pahiyas Festival known for decorations made of rice wafers painted in various colors.
“Last year we had an estimated 5 million visitors,” said Dennis Jardin, Lucban tourism officer. “This year, we expect more than that figure,” he said.
The Department of Tourism has listed Lucban as a must-see May-time destination.
During celebrations last year, local and foreign tourists started arriving a day ahead of the actual start of festivities to view kiping (rice wafers arranged like chandeliers) painted in red, green, blue and other colors.
Kiping is used to decorate houses along the procession route. Agricultural produce are also displayed.
Jardin said tour operators started arranging Pahiyas packages earlier this year. In social media, Pahiyas has become a trending topic, he said.
“Everybody is talking about the festival. They are all excited,” Jardin said.
Chief Insp. Alejandro Onquit, Lucban police chief, said the local police force would be augmented by more than 250 men from the police provincial headquarters and provincial public safety company.
Hundreds of volunteers would serve as traffic aides while village watchmen would help keep the peace.
Only authorized vehicles would be allowed to enter the town starting today. Parking areas outside the town center have been designated.
Onquit warned criminal elements, particularly drug pushers from outside the town, to stay away from the festival.
“Plainclothes policemen and civilian volunteers are scattered everywhere. We will be watching them,” he said.
Jardin vowed this year’s festival “will be more colorful, exciting and memorable experience” especially for first timers.
“They will surely return not only during Pahiyas because our town has more to offer,” he said.
To natives of Lucban and Quezon province, Pahiyas means an excuse for homecoming./rga
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