I think anyone who owns an SLR or joined a camera club was at the Pahiyas festival this year. Held every May 15 it is a thanksgiving celebration in honor of San Isdro the patron saint of farmers. Pahiyas means offering and to the locals it also means decorating their homes with the bounty of the harvest.
How to get to Lucban :
The fastest way is via Sta. Cruz Laguna. Transport companies like DLTB charge only P140 for an air-conditioned bus. Travel time is around two to three hours. Ask the driver to drop you at the Lucban jeepney terminal. You NEED to tell the driver or the conductor this because it is not a major stop. From Sta Cruz it is about another hour and a half on the “chicken bus” to Lucban for P45. We call it the chicken bus because the vehicle is a cross between a jeepney and a bus. It is really a jeepeny that can sit 32 people!!! And it runs at a speed of 40 to 60 kilometers only. It’s actually quite an adventure! This scenic route passes through Cavitini where Lake Caliraya is located and through Pagsanjan.
If you are taking the Sta. Cruz route the last chicken bus leaves at around 4:00 pm. If you intend to travel in the evening go via Lucena instead.
If you are taking a car use google maps! Make sure you don’t make a left to Infanta Quezon.
Patio Rizal – is located at the center of town. Great location and is one of the better hotels in Lucban. You need to book at least a year in advance for the Pahiyas.
Batis Aramin – it is a resort 10 minutes away from the town proper. This resort can compete with Villa Escudero. It is eight hectares of nature, natural pools, nice rooms and good service. It is right in front of Kamay ni Jesus Grotto.
Summer Capital Inn – this is my secret place because it is not on the Internet. It’s a back-packers no frills inn located right behind Lucban church. It is at the heart of town where all the action is happening. They charge P500 on a regular day. Rates become more expensive during the festival. Tel (042) 540-3421
Lucban is a town where everybody knows each other. I can not remember the exact locations of my foodie finds but you can always ask any local or the tricycle driver.
1. Lucban Longanissa – The best is Eker, or Abecedes Best for pasalubong
2. Café San Luis – Ice cold lambanog ( It’s the Filipino version of coconut vodka or grappa) It is about 80-90% proof !!
3. Pancit Habhab – Pancit Lucban noodles on a banana leaf and served without utensils. The experience is eating it straight from the banana leaf. There are pancit hawkers in every corner. It is only P7 pesos an order.
For a more authentic experience the best habhab is at Aling Luming Oracion’s house becuase she makes fresh noodles. It is a backyard business and I got to check out the noodle making facility! It is P60 pesos for an order that is good for 6-8 people. Note: Aling Luming’s has no sign so you need to ask around.
4. Saluds – This town institution serves the best halo-halo. Definitely better than Razons. They make all the ingredients from scratch. The ube is divine! It is three houses away from Luming’s habhab. Halo-halo is P35. Their specialty halo-halo with mais (corn) is P40.
5. Buddy’s – the original store is here in Lucban and is one of the few air-conditioned restaurants . They introduced Manila to pancit habhab and longanissa Lucban
6. Little Angel’s – Broas or lady fingers
7. Ground Zero –for pizza and western food for the younger generation
Believe it or not during Pahiyas or a town fiesta a stranger is free to go from house to house to part-take of the meals. Here are some of those Lucban dishes cooked during the fiesta:
Kiping is made with colored rice flour batter. It is then molded into kabal leaves and and steamed. Then the rice wafers are hanged to dry and pealed off the leaves.
2. Pako Salad – each family has their own version of this fern salad
3. Hardinera / Jardinera– looks like an embotido or meatloaf but it is steamed in a lanera (oval pan). It contains pork cubes stewed in tomato sauce, sausage chunks, pineapples, bell peppers, raisins(optional), and eggs.4. Kinulog – Pork and carabao beef that has been cooked in cane vinegar, onions, peppercorns, pimenton powder, and simmered in stock for hours until the acidity is gone and the meat is tender. The meat keeps for months. It is eaten with a sawsawan or dipping sauce of vinegar, onions, and calamansi. Really yummy with rice!
5.Sinangtomas – a spicy stew of slow cooked pork ribs in tomato sauce and chilies
Thanks to Lou Abuso and his family for the hospitality and for his grandmother’s recipes. Thanks to JM Valde for hosting us at their resort Batis Aramin. To Bengt Lee for the yema cake, Tats Ver for drinks, Viel for the broas and longaniss pa-baon. Nice meeting Chef Janjie Ocoma of lakwatsero kusinero. CSB SHRIM Lucban Animo!