Photos of San Isidro, courtesy of Jayson Maceo
The Sunday Times Magazine, 21 May 1972, pp. 26-27
Sincerity Flamboyance, Festivity.
Nowhere else in the world, perhaps, is as much tribte and homage given to the food god than in the coconut-producing towns of Quezon province,
Perhaps it had to do with the utter dependence of the crop on the whims of nature; perhaps it can be explained through the people’s love for ritual and spectacle. Whatever the reasons, the fifteenth of May each year is a special day dedicated to San Isidro, patron saint of the farmers.
For weeks before this day, all regular work stops and the entire towns busy themselves in preparing the buntings and delicacies that will hamg from wondows and bamboo poles around the town.
Although each town celebrates the feast in its own way with even urbanized Lucena paying lip service with a few street decorations, the towns of Lukban and Sariaya, are the perennial competitors in the art of celebrating San Isidro.
Lukban, with its candy-colored kipings in fancy shapes, its fruits and baskets, its entire window facades in a riot of colors. Sariaya, with its bamboo poles festooned with goodies which are torn down as the venerable San isidro passes by in the procession in the early evening; less colorful, less party-pretty, bit more exuberant and spontaneous.
And, as always, in keeping with the tradition of prayers for food and a good harvest, no visitor is allowed to go home empty. Food is literally pushed down one’s throat; it is an insult to decline. Houses are opened up to entire strangers; and as the Alcalas of Sariaya have found out, no one has really been proven to be the loser by such a reckless gesture.