It’s the most saleable item today. You must have bought one, waved it above your head on this morning’s mass, caught a few precious drops of the holy water when the priest consecrated the fluttering leaves, walked home in blessed euphoria and is now pinned on your front door or windows to ward off evil or at your altar to usher in good luck.

The bad news is you’ve just blocked the exit of whatever evil is in your home, if you have any on the inside.

Contrary to what most of our Catholic countrymen believe to be true, the creative manipulation of the anahaw leaves might disappoint them to know that the blessed palaspas have no such special power, or any other powers for that matter. Dispel of the superstition.

Other than a liturgical symbol, what the decorative green frond you display will stand for is to affirm your nosy neighbors’ curiosity if you’ve done your Catholic duty on the onset of the Holy Week and the artistry of the Pinoy.

Now that you just made your choice of intricately designed palm leaf the object of their desire, you obviously have caused them to commit a mortal sin- envy. You might as well post where you bought them as well, just in case they have to keep up with you, the (innocently-) appointed Jones of the day.

The true meaning of the palaspas and the Palm Sunday must have gotten lost along the way between the palm-laden road of Jerusalem where Jesus was welcomed and the concrete highway of the modern world.  The palm was used by the faithful to welcome their new King on the day of His arrival by laying these leaves on the path where Jesus, riding a donkey, was taking. 

Jesus knew of his fate when he entered Jerusalem- to be sacrificed and crucified. Looking into the deeper meaning of the liturgy, the palm is a sacramental symbol that is used to show that we welcome Christ to enter into the will of God. It is this sacrifice that the Christians thank Him for saving the world from sin.

Entering the holiest time for the Catholics, the observance of the season, expression of gratitude to the Savior and the seeking of atonement for sins are conveyed in different ways.


The devout hear mass daily and maybe walk to the altar on their knees, keep a noise-free home and maybe put the family on house arrest lest have bad luck befall upon them, visit seven and maybe thirteen Iglesias, go grandiose and flagellate and maybe reenact the crucifixion, or advance to the pinnacle of sacrifices- no bathing on Good Friday.

The world-weary ones may view it as a time to slow down, an ideal time to meditate and recuperate, bond with the family or go on a much-needed vacation.

To each, his own.

But don’t go wearing that self-righteous cloak and be quick to pass judgment for we all have our ways of praying. All the messages and intentions reach the same destination whether you’re kneeling, standing, upside down, nailed on the cross, in Church, in your room or at the beach, with palaspas nor not. We all have a direct line up there, that much I believe in. So your to-mah-to is no different from my to-may-to.

I feel it is the sincerity in one’s heart that will matter most. And faith, have it, keep it. It is faith that can move mountains and faith that can save you. Most of all, always remember that God knows Hudas (who does) not pray. 

Published at SunStar Davao Weekend  April 17, 2011