Halloween, Philippine Version

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.

Just look­ing at this makes my head hurt
Pic tak­en from Inquir­er — the usu­al crowds going to one of the big ceme­ter­ies
Flow­ers make a killing

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!

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