The month of May ushers in a different kind of celebration for the residents of the town of Calbiga, Samar. From an outsider’s point of view, the festivity that is known as Pahoy Pahoy Farmers’ Festival may be considered as simply one of the numerous fiestas that the Filipinos are famous in observing. However, an important legend with valuable lessons is the source of why this occasion needs to be remembered. It is a story of triumph, which is a cause for merriment for the townspeople.
According to tale that has been passed on to the present generation of Calbiga inhabitants, the town has always been dependent on its various rice lands as the means of income and food. As such, it attracted the ricebirds, or locally known as maya, which would arrive in waves and cause destruction in the rice fields. Famine was imminent but the village folks found an ally in the pahoys or scarecrows. With the help of the latter, it scared away the ricebirds and saved the town from possible starvation. From that time on, the inhabitants of Samar has shown their appreciation by celebrating the Pahoy Pahoy Farmers’ Festival.
Although initially conducted as a ritual to appease the gods of nature, this tradition has been incorporated to the Christian beliefs. It has evolved into an annual event of thanksgiving. To honor the pahoy, a parade of giant scarecrows prepared by the people in the different barangays is held wherein a winner is eventually declared. To be judged as the winner, the scarecrow must embody the concept depicted in the legend. The spectacle is accompanied by performers that are likewise dressed up like scarecrows, with patches of colorful clothing and straw hair. They dance to the sounds coming from the native instruments used.
More than a fiesta, the Pahoy Pahoy Farmers’ Festival is a legend that lives on.