If Lucban has Pahiyas, Sariaya has Agawan

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 14 2014 08:05 AM | Updated as of May 15 2014 12:29 AM

Balai Sadyaya Resort in Sariaya, Quezon prepares for the annual Agawan festival. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

The province of Quezon is known for the Pahiyas Festival held in Lucban every May 15. But unknown to many, a neighboring municipality also holds a fiesta that is worth a visit.

Just like Lucban’s Pahiyas, Sariaya’s Agawan Festival is held to honor the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador, through a procession.

Both festivals also use a lot of kiping, or edible leaf-shaped ornaments made of rice flour and food coloring, which are displayed in front of houses, stores and other business establishments.

But while Pahiyas is more focused on the decorations – each household tries to outdo the other in friendly competition – Agawan is all about the giveaways.

Named after the Tagalog word for “snatch,” Sariaya’s annual agricultural festival is highlighted by participants racing to get the kiping and goodies hanging on the houses.

Rainier Tan, a resident of Sariaya and a resort owner, said some of the items that can be “snatched” include vegetables, bread, popcorn and even money.

Kiping in different colors are on display at Sariaya. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“We have vegetables, dollars, pesos, popcorn na nakabalot sa papel, pati tinapay ng San Isidro. Naglalabas ang mga bakery a day or a week before the festival,” Tan told ABS-CBNnews.com during a familiarization trip of Quezon organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association.

“Iyon kasing sa Pahiyas, talagang nakadikit lang sa bahay nila. Sa Agawan, ang intention ay ipamigay ito sa tao,” he added.

Tan said the best time to witness the Agawan Festival is early morning, just as the San Isidro image passes Sariaya, as this is when the “organized pandemonium” begins.

“Pagdating ng alas-3 o alas-4, pagkalampas ng poon ng San Isidro, ‘yun ‘yung binabagsak na lahat ng decorations,” he explained. “Hindi magandang idea na pumunta ng hapon kasi wala na kayong makikita.”

Despite the anticipated chaos during the culminating activity of the Agawan Festival, Tan assured that the event is safe for everyone, even for non-residents.

“As young as five years old, pwedeng mag-agawan,” he said. “Basta kapag hindi ka makikiagaw wala kang maiuuwi.”

To those who want to witness both the Pahiyas and Agawan Festivals, drop by Lucban first before heading to Sariaya to get the best of both events, Tan suggested.

Another festival held in Quezon every May is Mayohan in Tayabas, which is characterized by the distribution of lots of suman (rice cake) to residents and visitors.