"This is just another Filipino culture that goes in 4 ways - arts, economy, religion and tradition..."

The Philipppines is probably the nation in Asia that celebrates Holy Week the most extensive way. During Holy Week in the Philippines, there are just arts and crafts that become an industry whenever the Season comes. Palaspas is a decorative palm fronds and it is an important seasonal commodity that Filipinos buy from the weavers to start the Holy Week which falls on a Palm Sunday.

Creative hands of a Palaspas weaver

These pieces of palaspas are being woven by people who are coming from one community. They live in a place rich in a type of palm tree locally called as silag or buri and contrary to what others have usually known, they do not use coconut leaves. The weavers all came from the town of San Juan in Ilocos Sur.

The whole Roman Catholic community is doing this Holy Week culture and I am just featuring one city which is notable in the Philippines for celebrating the Holy Week deeply and extensively which is Vigan City in the province of Ilocos Sur. They all gather at the corner of Liberation Boulevard and Jse Singson Street.

A young girl selling palaspas

Palaspas is brought by the Roman Catholic devotees to the church to be blessed as part of the Palm Sunday mass.

As the priest enters the church, the people wave their palaspas in commemoration of Jesus Christ's entry to Jerusalem.

However, right before Roman Catholicism was brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines, the Filipinos have been using palaspas and the origin of the Palm Sunday palaspas can be traced as early as the pre-Hispanic period.


As a brief history about this art and craft and according to the description of the 1589 account of Fray Juan de Plasencia, the Filipinos have been long before using the "leaves of a white palm wrapped in many designs."

Even some non-Catholic ethnic groups in the Philippines like the Tausugs use kidlat-shaped leaves as wedding decorations.

This practice was later absorbed in the Roman Catholic Faith with the palaspas used as decorative materials in fiestas in the Philippines.

The palaspas-making craft has been passed from generation to generations transfering the skill to the younger ones. I was actually able to talk with the oldest palaspas-weaver in the city at the age of 74 and with her that day are her children and grandchildren who are in the same way skillful in weaving palaspas.

For palaspas-weavers, this is actually a brisk business associated with the Holy Week and their creativity and skills in doing this art are unleashed.

Lola Conchita, the oldest palaspas-weaver in town told me that she can earn more than a thousand peso in this Palm Sunday Trade.

Lola Conchita sells her palaspas at 15 pesos each. However, some of the weaver-vendors near her can earn up to 3,000 pesos a day since their versions are much complicated, hence, the price is higher at 30 pesos.


The photo above is the Simbaan a Bassit along Liberation Boulevard in Vigan City and in front of this church is a bastion of a Holy Week market with palaspas as the exclusive commodity.

This is just another Filipino culture that goes in 4 ways - arts, economy, religion and tradition and for this post, it only happened in one city. It is very exciting to know what are also happening to other Philippine cities during the Holy Week.
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Tags: palaspas-weaving | palaspas weaving in the Philippines | palaspas weavers | palaspas weavers in Ilocos Sur | palaspas weavers in Vigan | palaspas-making | pictures of palaspas-weavers | photos of palaspas weavers | Palm Sunday in the Philippines | Palm Sunday in Vigan, Ilocos Sur | history of palaspas | history of palaspas-making and weaving
SPEAK YOUR HEART OUT. C'MON! DON'T BE SHY. I PROMISE TO REPLY EXCEPT FOR TROLLS.

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EDMAR GUQUIB

Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano. Genuine Bigueño. Sucker of Long Land Trips. Loves the Highlands. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For sponsorship, advertising, event invites and collaborations email me at edmaration@gmail.com.

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60 comments:

  1. I really admire Filipino's creativeness and hard work to earn for their living. They really find a way to utilize their skills and crafts :)

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  2. I really miss the holy week celebration back home .tagal ko na sa abroad .I remember we always have the palaspas hanged on my mom's altar.

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  3. Berryle, Filipinos can really are indeed creative and skillful.

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  4. @Mommy Tess: Yes, sadly USA doesn't have this "_

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  5. Wow. Thanks for sharing a little bit of history here. I always thought this craft was brought about by the dawn of Catholicism in the Philippines. I didn't know palm weaving was already a part of our pre-Hispanic culture.

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  6. GraceMags on April 3, 2012 2:21 PM said...

    Wow. Thanks for sharing a little bit of history here. I always thought this craft was brought about by the dawn of Catholicism in the Philippines. I didn't know palm weaving was already a part of our pre-Hispanic culture.

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    Yep, Filipinos were already civilized even at the precolonial times :)

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  7. "This is just another Filipino culture that goes in 4 ways - arts, economy, religion and tradition..." - I agree. Palaspas looks so simple but it was well crafted by the artistic hands of our kababayans who trully believe in our traditions. Ibibenta and they earn from it. But the most important are the artistry and the love for our culture na naipapakita sa bawat paghabi ng Palaspas.

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  8. I really appreciate your Vigan photos as you already know I've always been wanting to visit the place.

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  9. PALASPAS...
    truly a Filipino tradition that reminds every single PINOY of the sacrifices of JESUS and HIS painful sufferings.
    waving this palaspas is a sign of welcoming the KING of KNGS

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  10. Sining Factory on April 3, 2012 5:27 PM said...

    "This is just another Filipino culture that goes in 4 ways - arts, economy, religion and tradition..." - I agree. Palaspas looks so simple but it was well crafted by the artistic hands of our kababayans who trully believe in our traditions. Ibibenta and they earn from it. But the most important are the artistry and the love for our culture na naipapakita sa bawat paghabi ng Palaspas.

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    Yes, It might be as simpple as palaspas but it has a big role in our culture and heritage :)

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  11. Itin Bique Calvo on April 3, 2012 6:42 PM said...

    I really appreciate your Vigan photos as you already know I've always been wanting to visit the place.

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    Itin, thank you so much, hope you could visit Vigan too soon.

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  12. marri on April 3, 2012 8:51 PM said...

    PALASPAS...
    truly a Filipino tradition that reminds every single PINOY of the sacrifices of JESUS and HIS painful sufferings.
    waving this palaspas is a sign of welcoming the KING of KNGS

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    said it right marri, but let us always remember that God looks in the intention of our hearts and not in action or culture :)

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  13. it's nice when we look in depth the rituals and the traditions Filipinos has been doing. tracking back and we learn why it remains.

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  14. @Sir Dong, true! Because our culture, heritage and history is truly worth learning for :)

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  15. I am glad my mom teaches me how to weave palaspas. Though I am now in different Christian denomination, I will keep what I've learned as a gift from her and as an art. God bless!

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  16. Rom, I am not a Roman Catholic too, but I love how the Filipinos celebrate a wonderful culture that other countries might die to have :)

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  17. Thanks for providing a bit of history behind the palaspas. I didn't know Filipinos were already using them even before the Spaniards arrived.

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  18. filipinos are the most people I've known thats born and stick to the blood entrepreneur. we are such hard workers and still nourishing skills like this are very nice! xx

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  19. Unsugarcoated Reviews on April 4, 2012 8:34 AM said...
    Thanks for providing a bit of history behind the palaspas. I didn't know Filipinos were already using them even before the Spaniards arrived.

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    MY Pleasure!

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  20. MaryJane Tauyan on April 4, 2012 10:51 AM said...
    filipinos are the most people I've known thats born and stick to the blood entrepreneur. we are such hard workers and still nourishing skills like this are very nice! xx

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    I must agree with you MAry Jane

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  21. Alexis Pedrico

    I do believe that all of those are just symbols.. What really counts is the faith.. Kadaming dyang sumisimba, nag sasabing ang religion nila ang tama.. Pero pag labas ng simbahan ay wala nmang nag bago.. Mag "hangal" sabi nga sa BIBLE. :)

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  22. We call it in our language as "Lukay" :)

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  23. I'm very glad that even though we are saturated with so much commercialism, our traditions specially regarding religion still live on.

    http://josieswindow.info/2012/03/winter-fireplace-hot-cocoa-and-a-whole-lot-of-love/

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  24. If there is one thing i miss about my hometown Cattel, it will be this. :) Spending holy week there is more meaningful and solemn. :) alala ko pa, ako mismo ang gagawa ng mga palapas! :)

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  25. my mom bought same stuff like these. Holy week is right in the corner! Let's be safe and holy! :)

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  26. i haven't bought palaspas in quite a long time, but it still amazes me how different woven palaspas everywhere could be.

    hope you'll have a fruitful holy week =)

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  27. I recently read your post of Lola Conchita, and boy was it heartwarming. And as for the palaspas, it's actually quite evident that the more intricate the palaspas is, the more expensive it gets. Last sunday, when I heard mass, there was a man carrying a very unique looking palaspas. It was designed in a way where cranes would hang from it, as if it were a mobile of sorts. Just goes to show how Filipinos can be really creative at their craft. =)

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  28. i_strygwr on April 4, 2012 2:45 PM said...
    Alexis Pedrico

    I do believe that all of those are just symbols.. What really counts is the faith.. Kadaming dyang sumisimba, nag sasabing ang religion nila ang tama.. Pero pag labas ng simbahan ay wala nmang nag bago.. Mag "hangal" sabi nga sa BIBLE. :)

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    We have the same point of view. It is our personal relationship to God and not our actions -- I love featuring it though to showcase to the world our Filipino culture :)

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  29. Algene on April 4, 2012 3:30 PM said...

    We call it in our language as "Lukay" :)

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    Hey Algene nice to know, what language is that by the way?

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  30. *josie* on April 4, 2012 3:32 PM said...

    I'm very glad that even though we are saturated with so much commercialism, our traditions specially regarding religion still live on.

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    True, however, since I am not a just want to make it clear that my highlight here is the culture and tradition and not the religion, hehe

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  31. OLANOLOGY on April 4, 2012 5:16 PM said...
    If there is one thing i miss about my hometown Cattel, it will be this. :) Spending holy week there is more meaningful and solemn. :) alala ko pa, ako mismo ang gagawa ng mga palapas! :)

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    I can relate with you Sir Olan, me too, whenever I set foot to another place, I always miss my hometown :)

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  32. lalalaPatricia on April 4, 2012 5:53 PM said...

    my mom bought same stuff like these. Holy week is right in the corner! Let's be safe and holy! :)

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    Hi Athena, I hope we can maintain our holiness even after the Lent, hehe

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  33. athena on April 4, 2012 6:24 PM said...

    i haven't bought palaspas in quite a long time, but it still amazes me how different woven palaspas everywhere could be.

    hope you'll have a fruitful holy week =)

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    Same here, I wish I could do it too

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  34. Budget Biyahera on April 4, 2012 6:55 PM said...

    I recently read your post of Lola Conchita, and boy was it heartwarming. And as for the palaspas, it's actually quite evident that the more intricate the palaspas is, the more expensive it gets. Last sunday, when I heard mass, there was a man carrying a very unique looking palaspas. It was designed in a way where cranes would hang from it, as if it were a mobile of sorts. Just goes to show how Filipinos can be really creative at their craft. =)

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    Hmmm napansin mo din pala yun Main! Well thanks for reading my article about Lola Conchita!!!

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  35. palm sunday! my mom used to buy these all the time.

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  36. Ang galing nila no? Nakakatuwa sobra.

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  37. Filipinos are really creative and hard-working. Every year I see to it that I buy palaspas.

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  38. I wonder if they do this in other countries as well?

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  39. Stefanie Laya Uy on April 4, 2012 8:29 PM said...

    palm sunday! my mom used to buy these all the time.

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    Moms really do love buying it:)

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  40. Kathy Ngo on April 4, 2012 8:53 PM said...

    Ang galing nila no? Nakakatuwa sobra.

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    Oo nga Kathy, they are indeed skillful.

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  41. Cheska Cruz on April 4, 2012 9:21 PM said...

    Filipinos are really creative and hard-working. Every year I see to it that I buy palaspas.

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    Agree, that's why it is more fun in the Philippines because we create, we work hard, we innovate :)

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  42. boyinplaid on April 4, 2012 11:52 PM said...

    I wonder if they do this in other countries as well?

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    No idea @boinplaid ;?

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  43. looks like you enjoyed the palm sunday in Vigan with two post about it. nice. and although i don't buy palaspas, i emphatized with the devotion of Filipinos to their craft, trade and belief!

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  44. If there's one thing that I love about us Filipinos is our creativity in almost everything that we do. Just imagine all the designs that we've come up on how to weave those bare coconut leaves? You'll see various kinds of pattern, may cross, birds, the zigzag one, may bola pa nga eh! galing talaga ng pinoy!

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  45. Frankly I have never bought one...someone always gives us one every Palm Sunday. Nice designs they have in Vigan :)

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  46. Mhe-Anne, Roj, sorry tinatamad na akong mag-reply hahaha.... Yep! I agree with you guys, hahahahaha!

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  47. merlmd, I also never tried buying one, it is ironic how I feature this product here, hehe.. I just love our culture and religion is not even my focus here :)

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  48. We always have palaspas on our altar when my parents are still alive. My mom even have a devotion of "pasyon" every Holy Wednesday. No she don't sing those Alleluiah but she prays with them until the wee hours of the morning. My page

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  49. 5 years na din ako dito.. at never ako nakakita katulad creativity ng pinoy sa paggawa palaspas.. dito pinamimigay by strands lang.. un lang.. at un na un.. di tulad pinas! miss miss miss

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  50. Traveler on a Shoestring on April 5, 2012 9:31 AM said...

    We always have palaspas on our altar when my parents are still alive. My mom even have a devotion of "pasyon" every Holy Wednesday. No she don't sing those Alleluiah but she prays with them until the wee hours of the morning.

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    Nice to know from you Cha ")

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  51. Gemma | My Dailies on April 5, 2012 11:16 AM said...

    5 years na din ako dito.. at never ako nakakita katulad creativity ng pinoy sa paggawa palaspas.. dito pinamimigay by strands lang.. un lang.. at un na un.. di tulad pinas! miss miss miss

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    OO nga Gemma, iba talaga ang Pinas di ba? :)

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  52. It's fantastic. I appreciate Philippines' hard work and as creativity. you explained it well.. thanks for providing this information.. all these photographs are yours?

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  53. Hello Nabeel! Yes! They are all mine. Hope you could also post the culture and celebrations of India in your blog :)

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  54. You captured the real face of Holy week in the Philippines. THis is a perfect face of our culture..good job

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  55. Indeed our country has its unique yet solemn way of celebrating holy week. ^_^

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  56. ever since living on my own, di na ko nakakabili nito. hope i can go to church on palm sunday next year and finally have this at home....

    RC Gweniful

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  57. cherry, yay! Pareho lang tau haha!

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  58. We always have palaspas every Lent season, and we never missed even a single year. I didn't know back then what it was for though. I thought it was just a decorative ornament for the Holy Week.

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