And with the end of that weekend’s workshop came a persistent thought–“Why can’t the palaspas be to the Philippines as origami is to Japan?”

This was born from one of Elmer’s statements during the workshop.  Apparently, he had studied origami in Japan, and was impressed with how widespread and easily accessible origami techniques and instructional materials were there, and was disappointed to see that there were few resources on palm leaf art.  Every Japanese kid I suppose knows how to fold paper into some form or another.  Why don’t we have our own traditional art forms popularly mass-produced and learned as well?  And to begin with, why don’t we all look back to our lost childhoods and  seek out that memory of playing with tingting and coconut leaves?  My parents may not have taught me palm leaf weaving, but I do recall my yaya showing me how to make a little ball with the coconut leaves from our neighbor’s front yard.  Palm leaves are something we have in abundance, it makes me wonder why it never grew to the same popularity as origami with the Japanese (and worldwide).

The absence of coconut leaves in the metropolis could be one reason.  But before the workshop (as I scoured my surroundings for materials), I observed that some coconut trees survive in the suburbs and in some subdivisions.  I suppose they aren’t that popular for landscaping, as the heavy coconuts can be detrimental to parked cars and such structures.  But the coconut tree is one of the most useful–if not the most useful tree–around, with utility for almost each item that makes up the tree.  Thinking about it now, how could we not propagate more of these trees?

And apart from pretty palm leaf toys and decor, palm leaf packaging goes beyond our bayongs and baskets, presenting biodegradable alternatives to plastics.  We’ve all had our suman (of the Tagalogs) and puso (in Cebu).  Who knows?  Our palm leaves (woven with with coconut husks) may be able to serve just as well for condiments or detergents.  In Lucban in the Quezon province, plastics are commendably banned for use as shopping bags.  Since they have bayong weaving in their culture, you see tidily stacked bayongs in shops instead of tote bags.

The possibilities are as numerous as the uses of each of the coconut tree’s parts.  🙂

The kids were quick learners, and their enthusiasm for grasping the craft was palpable, as they, together with their mentors from Starbucks took to making whimsical forms of stars and fish from the palm leaves.

View the album of photos from the event on our Facebook page here.

You may also want to sneak a peek into an informative essay on palaspas by Elmer Nocheseda here.

At the end of the day, some kids were more pleased with their work than others.  Hehe.  ‘Til the next workshop!