PALO, LEYTE – The tradition of penance of the “Tais-dupol,” an all-male hooded religious group of Penitentes continues to be held in this municipality, as part of the observance of the Holy Week.

Wearing pointed and flat hooded robes often compared to the ones worn by the Klu Klux Klan in the United States, the Penitentes go around the municipality barefoot despite the scorching heat.

The hooded men either wear a pointed (tais) hood for married men, or a blunt (dupol) hood for the unmarried ones, which is why they are called “Tais-Dupol.”

The men also help in crowd control during processions and the reenactment of the Seven Last Words. The Penitentes likewise collect donations that they use to finance next year’s Holy Week activities.

As part of their preparation and to renew their faith, the Penitentes hold stations of the cross for seven Fridays before Holy Week.

The late Palo Archbishop Msgr. Benjamin Bacierra wrote that the Penitentes take their root from the Penitentes or Nazareños – men and women wearing cone-shaped hoods that cover their faces, adding, “As a form of sacrifice, they carry religious statues and icons in daily processions of the weeklong celebration of the Semana Santa of Andalusia, Spain which dates back to the 15th century.”

It was said that the Confraternity of the Penitentes was introduced and organized in 1894 by Fr. Pantaleon de la Fuente, a Franciscan Friar and a native of Spain who served as Parish Priest of Palo from 1887 to 1898.

He was then cabecera or head of Leyte. He desired to give a more dramatic color to the episode of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, death, and burial. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail April 3-9, 2023 issue)