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The San Isidro Pahiyas Festival is incomplete without the kiping as decoration - a leaf-shaped wafers made of rice (similar to tacos of Spain) in brilliant colors.

The making of kiping is time-consuming and involves many steps. It begins with the selection of fresh leaves as molds. The kinds of leaves include kabal, kape, talisay (umbrella tree), kakaw (cocoa), antipolo and banana (saba).

These leaves should be:
  • mature so that they can be used three times or more times 
  • same sizes
  • not render any unusual taste

To make the fresh leaves of uniform size, a pair of scissors is used to cut off the excess width of a leaf. Once the leaves of the same variety have been selected, these are wiped clean to avoid unnecessary discoloration or accumulation of dirt in the production of kiping.

 

The selection of rice and the preparation of rice paste are important steps. Rice should be laon (should have been stocked for a year) to prevent unnecessary cracking of the rice wafer. Experience dictates that C-64 variety can be used for as long as the palay has been stocked for a year.

The preparation of the rice paste includes:
  • soaking of the rice for two hours before taking it to the grinding station
  • grinding of the rice with water just a little over the volume of rice
  • mixing the ground rice with three packets of food color and ½ teaspoon of rock salt (for every ganta of rice)

To prevent cracks from the batch of kiping being made, people believed that in mixing the paste, silence should be observed, nobody should talk or ask questions. Then the paste will be spread on individual leaves. Depending on the size of the improvised steamer (usually it is made of bamboo slats that sit on a big frying pan with boiling water, decaying banana suckers serving to contain the steam and a matching lid) which sometimes can hold as many as three to four leaves, steaming of the leaves covered with paste lasts 30 minutes.

 

After steaming, the following steps are executed:

  • Dry the steamed kiping under the shade until ready for peeling off.
  • Peel off the kiping individually.
  • Place kiping one on top of the other.
  • Place weight on top to compress for ½ day.
  • Separate the kiping one by one.
  • Dry the kiping one on top of the other.
  • Place weight on top to compress for ½ day.
  • Store the kiping (hang them or place in a clean box
 
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Photographs by Ed Zurbano
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The Pahiyas Festival at a Glance

The Pahiyas Festival, originally known as Feast of San Isidro is an annual religious celebration honoring San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers. It showcases houses decorated with colorful "kiping" accented with farm produce such as rice, fruits, plants and vegetables as a way of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvests. Other events were added to attract tourists like the parade of carabaos, floats, sunduan, parikitan and higantes and a trade fair known as Tiyangge sa Lucban. Officially, the festival is known as the Lucban San Isidro Pahiyas Festival and listed by the Department of Tourism as one of the most colorful tourist attractions in the Philippines.

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