It was the 15th of May and all roads led to the small sleepy town of Lucban in the province of Quezon. This was the day the sleepy town comes alive with rainbows of colors; it was the annual Pahiyas Festival.
With no idea where Lucban was, we took a chance and visited the province to partake in one of the most colorful festival in the country. The journey by bus and provincial jeepney took four long hours through chilly winding roads. We alighted at the gates of Lucban as the town was slowly waking up to a gray and drizzly morning.
I approached a vendor selling bundles of the famed Lucban Longanisa and inquired where the festival was, everywhere she said. Well that was pretty vague; I decided to follow up with a more specific question, is the church located nearby? I got my specific answer.
Most old towns in the country have whole villages built around its church and plaza and I assumed from the photos I’ve seen on the net that this would be true in Lucban’s case. Its church is pretty old and I presumed that the festival would probably revolve around its perimeter.
A mass was being held as we approached the stone walkway leading to the 419 year-old cathedral; the Church of St. Louis, Bishop of Toulouse. Surprisingly, it was not named after the root of the town’s festival which was San Isidro Labrador the patron of farmers, but was instead titled after a Catholic Bishop who was once a cadet of the Royal French House of Anjou.
The first incarnation of the lime and cement cathedral was constructed in 1593. A reconstruction was made between 1630 and 1640 but was met with tragedy in 1733 when fire razed its lofty halls. The church was brought up from the ground five years later.
The ravages of Second World War partly damaged the structure in 1945 and its final restoration took place in 1966 with the aid of the National Historical Commission.
But it does not take a history major to perceive the years Lucban Church has been through; one only has to look at its beautifully aged and faded walls, the weeds growing in its niches, its arched doors and stained windows, the cloud-shaped façade and its three-tiered bell tower topped with a weather vane.
Lucban Church’s interior is much in contrast with its exterior. Where the latter is rough and aged, the former is smoothly painted in light yellow tones with accents of Trompe l'oeil styled artwork here and there. Golden chandeliers hang along its nave and the dome at its transept is painted in a striking blue hue, most probably representing the clear heavens above.
The mass ended and the clear bongs of its bell rang through the now bustling town. The clouds seemed to clear and the verdant slopes of Mt. Banahaw reared its green head in the not so distant horizon. The throngs of the faithful started trooping out of the church, ready to taste the color and hues of this year’s Pahiyas Festival.
Lucban Church - The Church of St. Louis, Bishop of Toulouse
La Purisima Concepcion st. Cor. A. Mabini st.
GPS Coordinates: 14.114919,121.5537 | Click to view location on Google Maps
How to commute to Lucban, Quezon:
Board an HM Bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna in Cubao (Php149.50.00), ask the driver to drop you off at the
jeepney terminal going to Lucban. Take the big jeepneys with the Sta. Cruz - Lucban signboard (Php49.00),
you can topload if you want but the road is zigzagging and the drivers are pretty fast so extreme care must
be taken. Alight at the jeepney terminal and hop on a tricycle to town (Php10.00 per person)
PART OF A THREE-PART LUCBAN PAHIYAS FESTIVAL SERIES
LUCBAN CHURCH – SAN LUIS OBISPO PARISH | SUCRE ET SEL CAFÉ | PAHIYAS FESTIVAL