Monday, May 19, 2014

Photoholic Pahiyas with Travefactor

It was PHL360 that first introduced me to Travelfactor and the many packaged tours they offer.  It was a web based travel show that documents bloggers as they visit 4 different destinations located on the four major directions of the country.  Sta. Ana, Cagayan for North, Bicol for East, El Nido for West and Cagayan de Oro for South.

Watch the full series here:

As one of the major presenter of the show, I went to visit their site.  That was the first time I was introduced to the many packaged tours they offer.  Admittedly, i would visit their site to grab some itinerary and check on interesting places to visit and took more than a year to actually join them for Photoholic Pahiyas.

I remember visiting the site last January only to find out the all the slots are filled.  To my surprise, when I checked on the site last April, they opened up more slots so I made my reservation that day.  I almost didn't make the payment deadline.  I was suppose to pay at their office in Pasig, but could not find a parking slot.  I just went back to the office hoping that they're still open past 7 PM.  Luckily, they were!  I think they have a pre-event meeting for a trip somewhere.

A week before the trip, I received a more detailed itinerary and what to expect.  The instruction was to be at El Pueblo in Ortigas by 4:30 AM.  Because of my busy schedule, I did not sleep anymore and just waited until it was time for me to prepare and commute my way to the meeting place.

When I arrive at Mcdonalds, theres already a line of participants registering and claiming their shirts and tags.  We waited about 30 minutes for the others, afterwards we boarded the bus that would take us to Tayabas for an early lunch.

I used the ravel time too catch up on sleep.  we made a quick stop along SLEX when finally, we arrived at Palaisdaan sa Tayabas an hour early from our itinerary.  Since they were still preparing our meals, we took the time to tour the restaurant.  As what the name suggest, dining huts are scattered on  huge pond connected by bamboo rafts.  Function halls are also available for big groups.

Palaisdaan sa Tayabas
Our lunch consisted of vegetables, grilled pork belly and Tilapia in coconut cream sauce.  Delicacy that made Quezon famous is being sold near the entrance.   They have Budin (Cassava Cake) and Yema Cake from Rodillas.  I should have bought the cakes here.  The lines in Lucban were just as long as the parade itself.

I still haven't tasted Rodilla's Yema Cake!  I should have bought one here!

Here, I was able to taste Pilipit.  It's very similar to Churroz but is made from squash, and Butchi (glutinous rice dough filled with sweet Ube).
Pilipit and Butchi

After lunch, we rested a bit until it was time for us to go back to the bus for the short ride to Lucban Town.  We parked far from the town centre.  Some opted to take the tricycle, but I chose to walk since I don't want to miss out on the happenings on the side streets.

There are more and more tourists as you approach the church.  The main plaza and side streets were filled with stalls selling everything from souvenirs to household items and food.

Along the main street are the famous Lucban landmarks.  Buddy's that made the Pansit Habhab popular in Manila and the only authorised sseller of Rodillas Yema Cake, which you would not miss because of the long line at the entrance.

Lucban Church

After visiting the church, I walked my way to the procession route where the houses where decorated with the local produce in thanksgiving to the town's patron saint San Isidro Labrador.

The houses made colourful with the decorations are a sight to behold.  Some made more effort than the others but all showcased their creativity and artistry.

Its very difficult to get a good shot because a lot of people are doing the same. But, here are some of what I got.

Dancing Vegetables

My Striptees is just as colourful as the decorations!  I totally belong!

Healthy Street food! Crispy Mushrooms!

Doing what the local do!  Pansit Habhab for only 10 pesos!

It took me more than 2 hours to completely circle the street under the scorching heat of the sun, but it was all worth it.  Every house sells their own version of Pansit Habhab.  I gave in to one of the stalls that has a fresh batch prepared.  I was given a serving on a banana leaf for 10 pesos.  A drizzling of the local vinegar adds flavour.

There's also a house decorated with giant mushroom that sells Crispy Mushroom.  It's actually Oyster mushrooms drenched in flour then deep fried.  It's popular to western tourists.

I also chanced upon a store that sells Leche Puto.  A box with with 25 small pieces costs 180 pesos.  This popular delicacy of steamed rice cake is made special with a custard topping.  I'm also not leaving without bringing home their famous Longganisa and the Cassava Cake.  I got myself a woven bag for 20 pesos to carry all these things.

The experience was tiring but fun.  Pahiyas is something that each Filipino should experience.  It showcases our hospitable nature and the richness of our culture.

In hindsight, I hope the tour guides offered more information about the festival.  Its relevance and history.  It doesn't have to be something detailed.  To me that would differentiate them from a transport service.  They were really nice though and as much as I love the fact that they allow us to discover things for our ourselves, we also don't want to miss out on anything.  I would have love to know who prepares the best  Pansit Habhab, or where to get the best Longganisa, or where Leche Puto is located and the other must do's!  Little things that would have made it more convenient for us!

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