Arañat Baluarte Festival in Gumaca Quezon

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It was so humid when we left Lucban Quezon for Pahiyas Festival to visit another town called Gumaca to witness yet another colorful festival – The Arañat Baluarte Festival. Each 15th of May the local harvest festival known as Arañat Baluarte happens here. This is an exciting and incredibly merry feast in honor of a farmer who became a saint back in 1622.

gumaca fiesta
Araña at Baluarte of Barangay Rizal

Gumaca is an agricultural area and as such you can easily see why the celebration of a fellow farmer who made good and became a devoted friend of God would bring so much joy to the people.

gumaca baluarte
Hanging Fruits and Vegetables under the Baluarte

San Isidro is the patron saint of farmers and is known for his kindness and mercy towards animals and the poor. Isidore was a farmer who worked for a wealthy patron in Madrid, but the problem was he always showed up late for work. When the patron explored why, he found Isidro was praying. While Isidro prayed, angels came to do his work. No wonder farmers love him. Not only that, but he was married to another saint, Santa Maria de la Cabeza.

Festival Queens joining the Parade
Festival Queens joining the Parade

While there have been human populations in the area for millenia, the town of Gumaca was founded in 1582 and sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre at the mouth of the Pipsik River. It is one of the Philippines oldest surviving towns. About 60,000 people live here in 59 barangays and the feast of San Isidro is the most looked forward to event of the town.

san isidro festival gumaca
One of the most beautiful Baluarte’s I’ve seen

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It’s so important that it’s even in the seal of the town! Along with the Pasinaya (the patrona fiesta of San Diego de Alcala on November 12) this is the prime way that the people of Gumaca share and preserve their colorful culture.

viva san isidro labrador
Once the image of San Isidro had passed by, the aranas of agricultural crops are loosened down for everyone to grab

One thing for sure, when you work hard, you party hard and from the looks of it, there are no angels doing the plowing for the folks of Gumaca! This is a festival that lights up the local people with joyous smiles and if you are lucky enough to be visiting look for the baluarte, or big bamboo arches, which are loaded up with seasonal fruits and vegetables such as coconuts, suman, bananas, and other ripe and green fruits that are grown here.

fresh fruits and vegetables
Underneath one of the Baluarte’s

The food isn’t just for decoration, at 4:00 p.m. a procession winds away but before that visitors get to drink fresh buko juice and eat delicious kakanin (rice cakes) under the baluarte. Along the parade route there are plenty of pabitin hanging from the windows and more than a few beautiful bamboo food arches to celebrate the saint. When San Isidro goes under an arch, the arañas and other foods are cut loose and all the people get to gather up the goods.

After the San Isidro procession
After the procession

This is an amazing time of filling your tummy and your grocery bags with only San Isidro to thank. The locals do that with native songs and dances as well as plenty of colorful filipiniana costumes and displays. The festival also is used to promote wonderful attractions like the 18th Century San Diego Fort and other historical attractions.

Gumaca is 196-km southeast of Manila and it can be reached by bus lines from Metro Manila. In addition to these, you can also use vans that are available in Metro Gaisano and Lucena Grand Central Terminal. Many thanks to Quezon Provincial Governor David JayJay Suarez for letting us rediscover Quezon’s colorful festivals. For inquiries on Quezon San Isidro Festivals you may reach the Quezon Provincial Tourism Office at 042-373-75-10 or email at tourismquezon@yahoo.com.ph

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