I don’t remember celebrating Halloween as a child. Growing up, there were no costumes, no trick or treat, no holiday mood. In fact, by October 31, the city started to empty slowly, there were so much less vehicles on the streets and most adults didn’t go to work. Instead, they went to the cemetery to spruce up the tombs of departed family members in preparation for Todos Los Santos (All Saints’ Day) on November 1 which, despite the name, has traditionally been spent by Filipinos remembering departed loved ones.
Halloween, American style, didn’t start to make an appearance in the Philippines until I was already an adult and a mother. And it was largely an urban affair. In fact, the costumes and trick or treat events originally started in affluent residential subdivisions where the residents could afford to buy costumes, decorate their houses and give away treats. This is a Third World country and most people just can’t afford all those extras especially for a holiday that really has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s different when a holiday or event is connected with religion. Feast days of saints (often geographic in context as each community has its patron saint) are celebrated with lavish buffets. Even in remote rural areas, fiestas are big events with pageants and parades.
Thanks or no thanks to television, the pervasive American culture and commercialism, Halloween has crept into the Philippine culture. Driving to the city earlier today, we passed by flea markets were Halloween costumes were prominently on display. Later, we went to the mall and at Gourdo’s (one of my favorite cooking / baking supple stores), the only available baking pans and cupcake liners were ones with Halloween motifs — lots of ghouls, pumpkins, skeletons…
What I didn’t know until recently is that there is a Filipino version of ghoulish activities that coincides with Halloween. It is called pangangaluluwa which literally translates to soul-ing. And it’s more hair-raising that the whimsical American Halloween. There is a blog in Filipino that describes how it goes. [Read more…] about Pangangaluluwa: Celebrating Halloween in the Philippines