Palaspas: An Appreciation of Palm Leaf Art in the Philippines garnered the Gintong Aklat Award for Arts and Culture yesterday, during ceremonies held at the Manila International Book Fair. The Gintong Aklat Awards aim to recognize excellence in Philippine bookmaking, and are given by the Book Development Association of the Philippines to outstanding book publishers based on the quality of books. From the author's painstaking documentation of palaspas forms, which made up twelve thick albums of pictures, pencil illustrations and notes from interviews, close to eighty palm leaf objects were chosen to be featured in this richly photographed book, the first of its kind. Palaspas begins with how the palm leaf has figured in our early history and culture, then highlights its myriad manifestations in the contemporary religious, social, and economic practices of our people in various communities all over the country. Enlivening the detailed instructions in creating the ephemerally beautiful forms are the stories behind the author's encounter with each krus sa lukay, tipaklong, minais, manuk-manuk, bolang dako, kinasing, patupat ti sinublan, and many more. The palm leaf -- folded, plaited, woven, cute -- is quintessentially a Southeast Asian folk and popular art form. Like low-fired terra cotta pottery, gold jewelry and ornament, jade and metal ling-ling-o, beads and necklaces, the art of palaspas points to the continuity and relation of Philippine culture with that of its neighbors, insular, Southeast Asia. Like indigenous textile, mate-weaving, carving, and bronze casting, palaspas decoration is one of the few living survivals from a past we have almost forgotten. Where forms originated, and how they were transmitted and diffused are matters for future studies, but Nocheseda's thorough research, a catalogue raissone almost of Philippine forms, has laid out a map of a landscape that begs to be explored. -- From the foreword by Rene B. Javeliana S.J.
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