palaspas_1

Domingo de Ramos in Lucban

Stylized palm fronds or ‘palaspas’ sold beside the church before these are blessed for Palm Sunday in Lucban

Domingo de Ramos or Palm Sunday, is one of the significant days of the Semana Santa that marks the start of the Holy Week. It is a reenactment of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem when he was received by the people, waving palms while he was riding a donkey. And I witnessed this in Lucban, Quezon.

semanasanta_logo.jpg This is part of my Semana Santa series where I feature rituals and traditions observed in certain places during this solemn week in the Catholic calendar. Click on the image at the right to check the rest of the articles.

Vendor in Tayabas selling palaspas. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Palm Sunday, or in my vernacular, Cebuano, bindita sa lukay (blessing of the palms) has always been experienced with the usual Sunday mass in my native hometown of Talisay. Here, fronds of coconut palms are formed into rudimentary crosses and other forms but simple. When the activity starts, the priest just enters the church and blesses the palms. When I came to Lucban, I never expected that it will be grand. Different.

Like in most churches around the country, vendors are already staking their claim at the sidewalk where the palaspas are laid out (above). Or, like in Tayabas, a vendor plying her unblessed palms near the gate entrance. But one thing is sure, when it comes to the various designs, these are visual treats that attests to the Filipinos’s art and artistry.

The priest blesses the palaspas infront of the church where a makeshift stage has been built.

The faithful shaking their palaspas as it is being blessed by the priest. CLICK TO ENLARGE

When I arrived at the church, I never expected that there will be a carroza (carriage) that will be used. In some churches, its the priest who will ride a horse or in my town, none at all. This is owned by the family of my friend Paugio, and it shows an image of Christ riding a donkey lushfully decorated with palaspas.

The speakers started to sound as the priest began the blessing with a prayer. The crowds hushed. The familiar smell of incense filled the square as it was offered by the sacristan. Just as the priest started to bless the palms, the sea of palaspas began to move frantically as the faithful shook these.

Christ’s entrance to Jerusalem simulated with a carroza entering the church

Old women laying down their veils and black cloths for the priest to walk on. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Just as the priest started his descent and walked towards the church, he was followed by his apostles and the incense bearing sacristans. Elderly women, called by townsfolk banal na mga babae, literally, holy women lay their tapis, wrap skirt, or some used their shawl along the pathway for the priest to walk on.

They kneel down and some try to kiss the stole of the priest and when he passes, they quickly grab the black cloth and race to the front to lay it down again. Even 80 year old ladies still do this one. The last to enter is the carroza with the image of the Christ, simulating his entry to Jerusalem on a donkey. This is then followed by the Sunday mass.

Download Langyaw #04 (1361)

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

5 Comments

  1. ling
    April 18, 2011 @ 23:32

    Spiritually created/written. A blessed holy week to us all.

  2. Pinoy Adventurista
    April 19, 2011 @ 10:21

    a meaningful holy week to all…

  3. » Langyaw #04: Semana Santa in Lucban | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    April 20, 2011 @ 9:04

    […] also includes a separate article on the Santo Señor Sepulcro, the Pabasa, Domingo de ramos and the important days of Holy Week till Easter […]

  4. emmanuel enriquez
    April 20, 2011 @ 13:36

    ESTAN…

    IM QUITE IMPRESSED BY YOUR PICS…

    THEY TELL AMAZING STORIES…. SO NATURALLY

    GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS…

    I AM CEBUANO NOW BASED IN MAKATI too

    I HAVE BEEN ALL OVER THE PHILIPPINES AND SOME OTHER ASIAN COUNTRIES…

    YOU TAKE CARE … ALWAYS..

  5. estan
    April 20, 2011 @ 13:41

    @emmanuel, thanx bai. 🙂

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