It was only during my early grade school years at a Catholic school when I understood the religious significance of bringing and waving this artsy lukay (as we call it in our Hiligaynon language), although I always saw them ending up at my mom's altar. But for me, as a kid, I was just fascinated by how a simple coconut leaf could be turned into artsy figures after some folding and creativity. And the artists who created those creative fronds I got when I was a kid lived in the haciendas. Their mastery of this art was just learned from family members and neighbors.
Luckily, I always got mine from my grandmother, who always asked my relatives living at the farms to spare me some artful lukay.
These palaspas were brought to the church to be blessed by the priest, and after the Mass, some people placed this at their altar at home, or at their door to keep away evil, and ward off gossipy neighbors and loan collectors. Ha-ha-ha!
This year, the palaspas carried by the Catholic faithful to the city plaza were mostly bought from the church grounds sold by enterprising 'artists' from the haciendas, who now knew how to monetize their art. For 20 pesos each, you can have your palaspas without having to climb a coconut tree. Ha-ha-ha!
At school, we were taught that the tradition of waving these palaspas came from the Bible when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was welcomed by people waving palm leaves. And since palm trees are scarce in the Philippines, we turned to what we have a lot: coconut trees!
Well, had Jesus been welcomed into one of the rural villages in the Philippines, He would have been greeted, not only with the waving of artsy coconut leaves, but also with fresh coconut water (or buko juice!) and freshly baked buko pie! And Jesus probably would never have left!
So, did you have your artsy palaspas blessed, too?