Being a predominantly Catholic country, we celebrate Halloween a bit differently. Trick or treating is fairly new. It became an “in” thing around late 90s. Today, November 1, is officially our Halloween in the Philippines, and it lasts for 2 days.
Starting on the evening of October 31, when the veil between worlds is thinnest, we are often told to be careful as to not offend the spirits. It is not a good idea to wear red, as this color is attractive to ghosts. When walking along dark roads, it is our custom to say “tabi-tabi po” (excuse me, I will pass), especially during these two days.
November 1 is All Saints’ Day, commonly known as undas or Todos Los Santos and November 2 is All Souls’ Day. These two days are a big deal for Filipinos. People usually go home to their provinces as early as October 28. Prices of flowers and candles would skyrocket, as well some basic commodities. Gravestones are often cleaned and lighted. Traffic is hell on earth. Normally, it only takes 20 minutes from our house to the cemetery. Today, it was 2 hours.
It is the time for families to gather together. We would go to the cemeteries, and visit our dearly departed. It’s like one big family picnic/reunion—we would bring food, laze around in the cemetery. Some would even go overboard and get drunk (we don’t do this as our grandparents would probably turn in their graves). This afternoon, I got lost navigating the maze of tents and flowers, looking for my dad’s grave.
At home, especially when it starts to get dark, we would light candles around the house. The candles serve to guide the spirits who are roaming around, and for them not to harm us because they were remembered. Being part-Chinese, it is an inauspicious day to be roaming around at night time. We would leave food in the table for the spirits.
Honestly, I don’t like going to the cemetery during these days. It is exhausting and makes me lose my patience. But I don’t want Dad or Grandma visiting me at home, so off I went!