Many Catholic countries around the world celebrate the feast of the patron saint of laborers and farmers.  In the Philippines, he is better known as San Isidro Labrador.

Colorful celebration of the feast of San Isidro is Lucban’s Pahiyas Festival

San Isidro was born to a poor family in Madrid, Spain.  He grew up tilling the soil and caring for animals. Among the many miraculous stories known about him is that angels were said to help him with farm work.

In the Philippines, the Pahiyas Festival in Quezon Province is one of the most popular fiestas that honor this legendary saint. Pahiyas was first observed in the 1500s by the locals of Lucban, Tayabas to give thanks for their bountiful harvest- fruits and vegetables of all colors, shapes and sizes. 

No wonder then, during Pahiyas, streets are decked in colorful array with artful displays of fresh produce, and of course,  kiping- leaf-shaped wafers made of rice. This lively festive atmosphere has been depicted in countless stories, photos, even immortalized in paintings.

Decorated Houses at Pahiyas Festival in the Philippines

But those in the know fear that Pahiyas might soon be forgotten because millennials seem to have lost interest in celebrating this farmers’ event.

Not a surprise, since Filipino youths seem to take no interest in farming.  Sadly, even their farmer-parents are known to discourage their children from a life in agriculture. With poverty incidence reported at 34.3%, Filipino farmers remain to be the poorest sector in this country.  Ironically, many of them go hungry and are even malnourished.

And while we complain about the governments’ low support, it is noted that we, the consumers, also contribute to farmers’ woes. Our way of life, one rooted in a culture of convenience, has negatively affected them.

Unconsciously, we overlook smallholding farmers selling their produce at the wet-markets and instead buy from big supermarkets.  We also tend to buy imported fruits and vegetables over local ones. Most of all, we are addicted to unhealthy food choices- processed and canned foods instead of greener and healthier fares produced by our farmers.

In fact, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute noted a steady decline in the fruits and vegetable and continuous increase in the meat consumption of Filipinos.  The 2017 Social Weather Stations Survey on Eating Meat commissioned by Greenpeace showed that 7 out of 10 Filipinos in the urban areas eat meat at least once a week. This is quite alarming given the rising of rate of obesity and other health ailments among Filipinos.

Colorful celebration of the feast of San Isidro is Lucban’s Pahiyas Festival

But it is not too late.  Remember the angels who helped San Isidro Labrador in his farm? We too can help our farmers in this modern day and age. All it takes is a change in attitude and mind set when it comes to food. We need to change the way we eat- to choose better food options; to consider our health and well-being; and to be mindful of the environment.

By consuming ecologically produced fruits and vegetables, we can support farmers’ livelihood. Remember, the simple act of buying their produce can be a meaningful act of kindness. 

To support our farmers, Greenpeace is challenging you and your foodie friends to eat at least two meat-free meals a week, with our #DietforClimate challenge. 

We encourage social media users to get busy on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts by posting photos of your meat-free meals and to tag and challenge family and friends to do the same.  

Ready to take a shot at our #DietforClimate challenge? Here are the mechanics:

  • TAKE A PHOTO of your meat-free meal of the week. (This could either be a lunch, dinner or maybe both!)
  • UPLOAD AND SHARE the photo on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram)
  • WRITE a short caption about your meal (you can share the recipe), and your motivation to join Greenpeace's Diet for Climate challenge
  • TAG 5 FRIENDS to challenge to eat healthier: I nominate my friends namely, to eat more plant-based food this week
  • Don’t forget to use the hashtag #DietforClimate #LessIsMore

Diet for Climate

Virginia Llorin is the Food For Life Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines.