The Municipality of Sariaya (Sar-ya-ya) is a first class municipality in the province of Quezon, Philippines. This favorite tourist destination is famous for its pristine beach resorts, heritage houses, and nature-trekking activities that lead adventurous hikers to the peak of mythical Mount Banahaw. Sariaya has a population of 138,894 (per the 2010 census) and is the second largest municipality in Quezon province. It is home to a 400-year-old Christian community, with a 250-year-old Saint Francis of Assisi Church.
A growing number of expatriates from other countries have long discovered that this town is a safe, affordable, and idyllic haven for retirement. The peace and order situation here is enviable, with its smiling residents going out of their way to make visitors and foreign guests feel safe and respected. Its residents’ penchant for higher education is legendary. Most families work diligently to send their younger members to secondary schools, vocational colleges, and topnotch universities in Metro Manila and the Calabarzon Region. The current municipal leadership has shepherded the establishment and continuing development of national high schools in its major barangays so that residents from far-flung villages would not have to spend too much for transportation. One of Santa Clarita Sister Cities Program’s recent projects in the area is the construction of a classroom to help accommodate the growing student population.
On May 15 of each year, Sariaya celebrates the Agawan Festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Pliant bamboo treetops and trellises weighed down by hanging food treats, native candies, rice cakes, and colorful rice krispies called “kiping” are deliberately pulled down on the streets by the merrymakers right after the afternoon procession. Festival revelers from the town’s barangays, neighboring towns, and other provinces would then scramble to gather as many treats as they can snatch and carry, hence the term “agawan,” the Filipino term for “grab.”
Sariaya is also well known for its best-selling delicacies: pancit habhab, the Sariaya version of sautéed noodles eaten directly off banana leaves; pinagong bread (a tasty and filling bread shaped like a clenched fist); export-oriented mazapan candies and pastries made of young coconut or buko meat; cassava confections and rice cakes that blend grated sweet coconut or makapuno and pulverized banana; and those luscious and juicy varieties of pakwan or watermelons, cantaloupes, santol, mangoes, and kaymito fruits.