Mayohan Festival in Tayabas

Mayohan Festival in Tayabas Quezon: As the figure of San Isidro Labrador was carried by followers in this all-male procession, the plaza burst into applause. (Photo credit: E. Razalan)

When May 15 comes around, people who live in and around Tayabas City can’t help but be excited because the city has its own unique harvest festival. The event, which has become popular with tourists from both inside and outside the country, brings the celebration to life and shows the rest of the country what the town’s culture is like.

The 15th of May is a significant date in the communities of Lucban, Tayabas, and Sariaya, all of which are located in the province of Quezon. It is the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, and each community honours this day by holding a celebration that is distinctive to that community.

The annual celebration highlights the Mayohan Festival, a thanksgiving festival following a successful crop. During this event, Tayabas City residents decorate their homes with vegetables, flowers , plants,and hats. This tradition also applies to other places, including Lucban and Sariaya, among others.

Aside from the fact that May 15 is my mother’s birthday, the reason I look forward to this festival is the excitement and fanfare of the people in this town, who are largely farmers, as they enjoy the once-a-year celebration. (Photo Credit: VL Facebook)

Mayohan is the name of the festival that is held annually in Tayabas. And just like Lucban, which is well-known for the elaborate pahiyas  (décor) displays that are found there, the houses here are decked out with an assortment of fruits and vegetables, rice stalks, hats, fans, and brooms, but there is no colored kiping, which are rice paste wafers in the shape of leaves, to be found. The citizens of the town are going to share their good fortune during the festival. Following the procession of the image of San Isidro, the “agawan” begins, which consists of the items that were used to decorate the house being thrown to the crowd that is gathered outside.

The plaza erupted in cheers as the image of San Isidro Labrador was brought out, carried by devotees in this all-male procession. The procession was entirely comprised of men. In comparison to the procession that takes place in Quiapo, this one is much more compact but exuberant. The “hagisan ng suman” ( throwing of rice cake steamed inside banana or palm leaves) is what gives this procession its one-of-a-kind character as a component of the Mayohan sa Tayabas, which is the Tayabasin celebration of the feast of San Isidro. When the image passes by a house, the people who live there throw suman at it. After that, devotees make a beeline for the falling suman, which resembles rain and falls from the sky. It is a commonly held belief that the greater one’s suman catch, the larger their harvest will be in the following season.

The celebration of San Isidro Labrador is simply one of many beautiful occasions of Tayabas City’s cultural traditions. (Photo downloaded from Facebook.)

The people of Tayabas City are defined by their long and illustrious history, which is reflected in the city’s abundant cultural practises as well as the beautifully preserved national treasures of old churches and bridges dating back to the Spanish era. The celebration of San Isidro Labrador is just one of the many stunning examples of the town’s cultural traditions. There are a lot more anecdotes and stories that a native Tayabense, such as myself, would be very proud to tell about this town.

Aside from the fact that May 15 is my mother’s birthday, the reason I always look forward to this festival is the joy and fanfare of the people in this town, who are mostly farmers, enjoying the once-a-year celebration. In Canada, I will never be able to look forward to having the opportunity to experience something like this. The tales of how I spent my childhood, playing in the field of “damong kalabaw,” having “mukmukan” sessions with the friends I made as a child, and having a culture that was so abundant that it made some people green with envy.

Despite this, I’m pretty sure that the longing is what keeps dragging me back to this beautiful, lovely town of Tayabas.###