Dec 14

Philippines 2014: Pahiyas Festival in Lucban; Kamay Ni Hesus

Date: May 15th 2014

I had to wake up really early to board a bus going to Lucena. I boarded one from near Araneta Center and made up for lost sleep for much of the journey. At around 8am, I woke up when the bus was moving very slowly along the highway.

We reached Lucena Grand terminal and from there, boarded a jeepney going to Lucban, where the Pahiyas Festival was on in all its colourful glory.

Lucban jeepney Lucena station

It was going to be another 30 minute ride from Lucena to get to Lucban

The jeepney stopped a bit far out from the Lucban village/town. We were asked to get down and to get to Lucban proper, where the Pahiyas festivities were taking place, we had to take tricycle taxis! So a third ride later, again, we were dropped outside the village/town. Now we had to walk.

Shakeys on wheels Lucban Philippines

Shakey’s had this enormous bus serving food

Sleeping child being carried Philippines

It was very hot and we had to walk a bit

Lucban Pahiyas festival entrance

The roads had been blocked and vehicles could not enter

Decorated house Pahiyas festival

Right away I could see the decorated houses

Pahiyas festival older women Philippines

Pahiyas Festival being a harvest festival, people decorate their houses with vegetables, fruits, rice grains and other produce

Pahiyas festival decorated house

The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban is also noted for how colourful the decorations are

Decorated balcony Pahiyas Lucban

The best decorated houses win prizes

Decorated tall house Pahiyas festival

This was probably the tallest house I saw all covered up

Stuffed carabao Pahiyas festival

At the bottom, the house owners had placed a rather big carabao (stuffed), whose head was being controlled by strings pulled from residents on the upper floor

Children posing with Carabao Lucban

The kids were loving it (taken using the GoPro)

Pahiyas festival girl Lucban Philippines

Lots of posing going on

Decorated houses Pahiyas festival Philippines

Word of advice to photographers: if you wish to capture the houses in its true glory, come really early in the morning

Kiping rice leaves for sale

These are the edible kiping. Made of ground rice, and despite all the colouring, they are rather tasteless

Kids looking out window Pahiyas Lucban

And everybody uses kiping as a decoration

Couple selfie Pahiyas festival Philippines

Lots of selfies were taken this day

Pahiyas festival house designs

Some houses were trying out different designs

Stuffed people Pahiyas

More stuffed figures. Their hands were being tugged by strings.

Hare Krishna Iskcon band Philippines

This was some Philippines branch of the Hare Krishna/Iskcon singing a rather melodious chant which had everyone grooving

Longganisang Lucban sausages Pahiyas festival

This is on the other hand is Lucban longganiza, a popular sausage from this region

Pahiyas festival celebrations Lucban

I like this photo

Crowds in front houses Pahiyas festival

I couldn’t even take a clear photo of these houses because of the crowds in front of it

Sunflower design Pahiyas festival Lucban

I took this shot in a split second…

Sunflower tourists Lucban Philippines

… because otherwise it would look like this

Lucban village Pahiyas crowd

I don’t know how many houses were taking part in the contest, but I sure as hell couldn’t see all of them

San Isidro Pahiyas festival house decoration

San Isidro is the patron saint of farmers in whose honour Pahiyas festival is celebrated

Colourful balcony decoration Pahiyas

That’s some really nice work done on decorating the balcony

Vegetable decoration harvest festival Philippines

Some houses used a lot of vegetables for decorations

Marca vinegar house decoration Pahiyas

Corporate brands had taken over some of the houses too

Girl rice grains Pahiyas Philippines

Hello girl

Pahiyas festival Lucban corner panorama

A panorama

Lucban house Pahiyas festival tourists

Same house? Or two?

Vegetables harvest festival Pahiyas Lucban

I just kept walking around the many blocks

Decorated homes Pahiyas festival Philippines

Lots of bananas and coconuts used in this one

Harvest decorated house Lucban Philippines

Now this was impressive!

Hat decorated house Lucban Philippines

One of the more interesting designs I saw

Umbrellas sunny Lucban Philippines

If you couldn’t make out from the umbrellas — it was scorching hot!

Colorful hats Pahiyas decoration

Green, yellow and red were most prominent colours

Pahiyas 2014 house stall Lucban

Aside from kiping, the only thing I constantly bought were juices and water to keep myself hydrated

Corner houses Lucban Philippines

One side a participating side, the other not participating

Pahiyas float Lucban Philippines

Variety in decorations always garner attention

Pahiyas festival GoPro

I would use my GoPro every once in a while

Yellow green red house Pahiyas

Another tall house all done up

Crowded streets Pahiyas festival Lucban

Some stretches of the road were just too crowded

Empty street Pahiyas Lucban

Which made sights like this all the more welcoming to me

Tourists posing Pahiyas statue Philippines

Generational interests well summed up by this photo. A man poses by a traditional female figure, the young girl poses with characters from Frozen (a hit Walt Disney movie for those unaware)

I didn't know what fruit this was

I didn’t know what fruit this was

Church of Saint Louis Lucban Philippines

Church of Saint Louis, the main church in Lucban

Church hall Saint Louis Lucban-philippines

Prayers were in full strength

Pahiyas festival tshirt Lucban

Pahiyas festival t-shirt on sale

Lucban market Philippines

I guess I was in the public market now

Tourists visit house Pahiyas festival

During the festival, some houses are open to visitors and you can just go in. I went inside this house, but didn’t take any photos from inside (that would be invading their privacy)

Yellow wall hanging banana Lucban

By now I had seen enough house decorations

Leaving Lucban Philippines

I really didn’t feel like walking around more because the heat was getting to me and I felt I had seen enough

Here’s a brief video I took while walking around:

Lucban village stream Philippines

I had to walk all the way back to the main road

Carriage carabao Lucban Philippines

That’s a real carabao pulling this float

Traffic Lucban Philippines

There were still some making their way to Lucban, but many making their way out

Southern Luzon State University Lucban

Southern Luzon State University

I boarded a jeepney and made my way to the next stop — Kamay ni Hesus (“hesus” is Jesus, pronounced in Spanish).

Kamay ni Hesus entrance Lucban

Kamay ni Hesus is a popular attraction at Lucban

Kamay ni Hesus hill Lucban Philippines

It’s basically a statue of Jesus atop a hill

Garden of Eden Kamay ni Jesus Lucban

I entered the Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden Noah Ark replica Philippines

And yes, that is a replica of Noah’s Ark

Steps Kamay ni Jesus Lucban Philippines

I began the climb up.

Climbing Kamay ni Hesus hill Lucban

You walk up in a criss cross manner

Crosses kamay ni hesus lawn Lucban

I guess the climb is to represent making your way up to heaven

Kamay ni Jesus statue Lucban Philippines

And when you finally reach heaven, Jesus welcomes you with his open arms. Kamay ni Hesus means “Hands of Jesus”.

Lucban view from Kamay ni Hesus

The view from up here

Trees Lucban Philippines

Lots and lots of trees

Lucban from Kamay ni Jesus Philippines

I guess that’s where I spent my morning

Kamay ni Christ statue Lucban Philippines

Goodbye Jesus

Climbing down Kamay ni Christo Lucban

Time for me to head back down to earth

And that was it. My day at Lucban was over. I boarded a jeepney going back to Lucena Grand terminal. I had picked up lunch from a Jollibee at the bus depot before boarding the bus back to Manila. It was a long journey, getting stuck in traffic towards Manila and finally arriving back at the hostel only past sunset. I was tired and lacking sleep, but I guess it’s a good thing I forced myself to get out of bed early. Pahiyas Festival was a bit of a cultural experience that was sorely missing in all my travels across the Philippines, so it was good that I chose to visit Lucban.

This is also the second last post in this series. Kind of makes me sad to know there is just one final post left to write about in this Philippines series :(

Previous post(s) in this series:

Philippines 2014: Manila Chinese Cemetery

Philippines 2014: Corregidor Island tour

Philippines 2014: Bargain shopping in Manila; Paseo de Santa Rosa & Solenad

Philippines 2014: Japanese tunnel; leaving Davao for Manila

Philippines 2014: Scuba diving for the first time, at Samal Island (Davao)

Philippines 2014: Philippine Eagle Center, Davao

Philippines 2014: Attractions at Eden Nature Park… and getting lost

Philippines 2014: Sky Cycle at Eden Nature Park, Davao

Philippines 2014: Leaving Cebu for Davao; Davao City sights

Philippines 2014: Tumalog Falls; Oslob church, Cuartel

Philippines 2014: Oslob – Swimming with whale sharks

Philippines 2014: Trek to Mount Pinatubo crater lake

Philippines 2014: The itinerary this time around; UP Diliman and Maginhawa

My Philippines journeys: 2011 series | 2013 series

Nov 14

Philippines 2014: Manila Chinese Cemetery

Date: May 14th 2014

After my Corregidor island tour, I took a break the following day to do some shopping in Manila. Today, I chose to spend my afternoon checking out Manila’s Chinese Cemetery. My ‘first’ Pinay friend Aimee told me about the cemetery and she suggested I check it out. That was back in 2011. Well, three years later, here I am.

Getting to the Chinese Cemetery wasn’t as easy. I mean, if you get to Abad Santos station, you will see the cemetery right away… but it’s finding the right entrance that’s the challenge. I got down at Abad Santos but when I couldn’t find an entrance nearby, I asked the staff at the LRT and they told I had to go to R. Papa, the very next station! Annoyed, I took the train to R.Papa.

Manila Chinese cemetery North Gate

I walked out of R. Papa station, by the road… and all I saw were the closed gates at the north entrance. Ugh.

Boundary wall Chinese cemetery Manila

I wondered how the heck I could get in. There was no one I could ask either.

Annoyed, I walked back and found myself walking through a barangay(?).

Manila barangay fiesta decorations Philippines

I just kept walking around assuming there would be an entrance to the cemetery somewhere behind

Stage barangay event Manila

But I couldn’t go much further because the road was blocked with this stage set up

Kids barangay Manila Philippines

So I walked back

I walked back to R. Papa where a bunch of tricycle taxi drivers accosted me asking where I want to go. I didn’t feel like wasting time anymore so I just hopped into one, bargained it down to 30 pesos and asked the guy to take me to the right entrance of the Manila Chinese Cemetery.

Manila Chinese Cemetery south gate entrance

The tricycle rode all the way back to Abad Santos station and then passed it to take a left. Another left turn and voila: I was at the right entrance!

The security guard at the entrance asked me where I was from and I replied saying I’m not from media, just a tourist. There is no entrance fee or anything, so one can just walk in. But as soon as I went in, a older guy approached me and asked me if I wanted a guide. He said he would show me around the cemetery in a bike and tell me all about the people buried here. How much? ₱800 (₹1100/$17/€14) he said. I said no. I even asked him if he was an official guide here.

I walked further inside… and another “guide” approached me. He offered to take me around for just ₱400. At this point I was doubting these “guides”. So I just said no to the second guy as well. Then this second fellow went and urinated beside a grave house.

Man peeing Manila Chinese Cemetery

I’m not kidding. That’s the guy, in red, peeing outside someone’s grave.

Manila Chinese Cemetery houses

Oh, by the way, these are not houses… but graves

Continue reading “Philippines 2014: Manila Chinese Cemetery” »

Sep 14

Philippines 2014: Scuba diving for the first time, at Samal Island (Davao)

Date: May 6, 2014

The plan for today began with the idea that I would take a ferry to Samal island and hope to go an island tour from there. Trouble is, it wasn’t easy to book tours to the island as the few travel agencies I made contact with at Davao City told me they only do the tours on certain days and that too if they get enough tourists.

So figuring I could try my luck and find some tour agency near Davao port, I took a taxi to get there early enough. When I was dropped off near the port entrance, I saw many dive centers.

Carabao Dive Center Davao Philippines

Carabao Dive Center was a name I came across when researching Davao tours

I inquired about their ‘introductory dive’ scheme which cost ₱850 (₹1100/$19/€14). To my luck, they told me there was a group today and if I pay up, I could join them. I thought about whether to do a Samal island tour — or (finally) experience scuba diving for the first time.

Scuba diving it was!

I paid up, and was asked by the staff to choose a wetsuit and scuba foot fin that fit me.

Davao port sea side

I was a bit nervous, and at the same time excited. Although I have always wanted to try scuba diving, I never planned for it today!

Davao port Philippines

We walked towards our boat

Davao port tour boats Philippines

The boat ride to the dive spot wasn’t very far off

Scuba dive boat tourists Davao

This was my group

Loading up the boat scuba tour Davao

They loaded up the boat

Boys swimming Davao Philippines

And we were finally off!

Continue reading “Philippines 2014: Scuba diving for the first time, at Samal Island (Davao)” »

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