May 15 fell on a Sunday and in what only happens once in every 6 years the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the Patron Saint of Farmers celebrated all around different parts of Quezon and Laguna fell on a Sunday. I hastily prepared myself to face my greatest foe. Traffic. I abhor traffic with a passion and to share my agony i joined the trip of travel bloggers, Ivan and Marco and together we rode the 4am Sta. Cruz bus-@148Php for about two hours, which wasn’t really bad considering that while the driver played groovy bands such as The Outfields, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations. I really didn’t feel any drowsiness even if i haven’t had a wink since the night before. Arriving at the terminal where we got to enjoy the “top load” while dunk and crunking at the overhanging branches with the bus zipping through mountains and ravines.

As we arrived unscathed yet hungry in Lucban, all we thought of having for breakfast is the famed Longganisa, which really wasn’t hard to find RAW, but cooked at a Carinderia was another matter entirely so we just did what any sensible tourist will do. Prolong hunger and do a photo walk while on the look-out for good eats which does not constitute the colorful rice wafers called Kiping which was absolutely delightful to look at although quite the opposite as a gastronomic find. We were able to sample the Inihaw na Kiping for free which was cool but it was like eating Crispy Corrugated Cardboard and that’s putting it lightly. :)

Scoring some “Binatog” at 5 pesos is surely a delight, it’s a Filipino delicacy whose name probably refers to the state the white corn goes through. I really have no inkling about the recipe but it’s good, starchy and at 5pesos my bar for quality is set at ground level so this is a happy dish for me :)

Peppered everywhere in Lucban, people sold the notorious Pancit Habhab whose main selling point is the affordable price, sold at only 7-10 pesos per banana leaf portion. It’s made from slightly thin egg noodles, some veggies and spicy vinegar as the seasoning. The spend thrift in me found quite the alternative since stalls where offering free cups of Pancit Habhab along the Church.

Scenes from the Lucban Church where tourists and shutter-bugs congregated to await the Procession of the Sto. Nino and the start of the Mass.

Our hunger can’t be contained anymore and the 5peso Binatog can only rumble in my belly for so long before we decided it was a serious Do Breakfast or Die in the heat emergency situation. Luckily a Divisoria of sorts was established near the Lucban Church where shops are erected for a day, and walking around we found this pretty café, Sucre et Sel on A. Mabini St.

After the Church visit and the mediocre breakfast. We decided to go to a Holy Shrine 2 kilometers away from the town. Where we decided– or rather was forced to walk in the blistering sun. But who would complain right, if you had Mt. Banahaw beckoning beside you as you walk. Then us with a new addition, Darwin proceeded again to the Church where we can meet yet another blogger, Gael

More photo-walking ensued while Gael told us about her mishaps the night before and being mistaken for a homeless wanderer intent on sleeping at the town plaza, traveling with seasoned bloggers has many perks although each of us was so accustomed to getting lost everyone was almost always fascinated by different things but we more or less always find each other.

After oodles of rubbing elbows with the shutter bugs, we bumped in to Atty. Mhe-ann advising us wisely to watch the parade first then go with them to their friend’s house and do the traditional “maki-fiesta” which in layman’s terms is to eat for free. I will still stand by my stance that this was not pre-meditated and only luck played a part with our free meal. :P

More pictures of the long parade. The Pahiyas festival is indeed very popular so it came as no surprise that it was a bit commercialized, with different companies paying homage to other festivals with their floats.

After the parade and an embarrassing stint as the entourage of the San Miguel float we then walked to the house of our host that afternoon led by Gael, who spent the previous night there. We were welcomed warmly into their homes and not only did we enjoy great food but also wonderful company.

We had a sumptuous feast of Pinangat, Laing, Kaldereta and Morcon all done with their own Lucban twist. This dinner would prove to be quite useful as the journey back home is the kind of adventure typical for the backpackers i’m traveling with.

We queued up for the jeepney ride back home that was long but spent wisely talking about common friends, Marco and I decided on taking the topload again this time with some rowdy yet friendly tourists aboard. Admittedly the ride would have been better if the driver was more “Patok-like” but the matrix moves we did avoiding the branches was even more awesome at nighttime.

I wish i could tell you we boarded another bus safely home without delay, or that we didn’t encounter any problems thereafter. But like the Baptism of Fire for anyone in PTB, derails and delays are to be expected because us travelers will undoubtedly be your guinea pig for any misadventures on the road. Needless to say we spent a good chunk of our time pondering on plan a’s and b’s. By demand we did find a Jeepney bound for Calamba, however with the good driver getting conned by some teenage girls who paid him 6 pesos for a 40 peso ride. We felt pity and shared the humor but since we were operating on what seemed to be an unspoken agreement on exchanging winks of sleep in minutes which i really thought was amazing.

In Calamba, we found the last non-AC bus bound for Alabang, so said the conductor who i couldn’t trust. But we boarded it anyway and safely traversed the traffic-less SLEX on a cool midnight monday.

Parting with Gael, Darwin at Alabang, Ivan, Marco and I walked a long distance and up an overpass in what was really a futile effort to catch a Cubao-bound AC bus. 51 pesos, a few minutes and another wink of sleep later. I touched down on Cubao, boarded a cab home and truly enjoyed my Pahiyas Experience.