Halloweening Pinoy Style

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Last Monday, I was lucky enough to join Raya kids in their Pangangaluluwa. And again just like any other school events, I was amazed by the ingenuity and patience of the parents who worked really hard to make extraordinary costumes for their children. All for love, love, love! 🙂

Here are some proofs of their crafty hands which really made the kids proud. I tweaked it a bit for more fun.

Wigs, fake nails, blood, make up, even pridyider. Hehe!!! (That was unexpected Joaquin! 🙂 ) For a few fleeting hours a child’s dream to look like a fairy or just be cool even though spooky (which sounds more exciting to them, actually!) was made to life. But more than the good scare brought by the costumes and the props, what made the event more meaningful was that it was geared towards promoting camaraderie and generosity among the participants. They gathered together to watch some movies, shared creepy stories, did their version of trick or treat, and even made a short film about lower mythologies which I hope to see on Monday. They shared their time, creativity, talents,  hotdogs, lots and lots of donuts and candies. Thanks Grade 3 for again letting me in to your room sharing the joy and the food as well. 🙂

Now how is Halloween really celebrated in the Philippines? I tried to revisit my days as a child and this is what I got. When I was young girl, I used to live in a house which happened to be a few blocks away from a cemetery. Nyaaay!!! But contrary to the shudders and fright this occasion (being commercialized)  tries to evoke, I noticed that Halloween which is also known as Undas here is more of a family thing and is actually festive. Here’s what happens based on personal observation:

1. A week before Undas some people will visit cemeteries to do early cleaning of the graves of their departed loved ones.  New paints are applied, grass are trimmed, and floors are swept. People come with boxes or bags filled with brooms, rags, buckets, water, paints and brushes. I’d frequently see some  classmates going in with their dads. Interestingly, this is also a source of income for some as they charge a few bucks to those unwilling to do the dirty works under the scorching heat of the sun.

2. A few days prior to Halloween, some of our friends and their families will temporarily leave the neighborhood to go back to their hometowns so they can visit their dead relatives. Mama, on the other hand, who was from Bicol usually opts to just stay at home and light candles while offering her prayers for the repose of the soul of beloved friends and relatives. We would watch the news and see how packed the buses are (also the ships and planes), all filled with people eager to head back to their provinces.

3. November 1 here is a day for both the saints and the souls. Filipinos flock the memorial parks to remember the dead. The once quiet cemetery near us, will suddenly become noisy and busy as people come to it ready with their flowers, candles,and snacks. Some will also bring chairs and mats. Others take with them board games, cards, even radios. In a special way, the occasion is a reunion of some sort, a few happy hours with living families and friends while commemorating the dead. Once prayers are said, a little party begins.

This is also the time when small industries thrive, as different stores are set up all around. People sell all sorts of things. Exciting colors are everywhere. There are candles, flowers, balloons for the kids and even fans. There are street food like fish balls, kwek-kwek, and kikiam. They have crackers, biscuits, sandwiches, and drinks of all kinds. Children are thrilled, but more so the vendors. My mom and her girl friends tried it once and they earned a lot.

4. Come November 2, everything is toned down. This day is usually more quiet and less busy. Maybe because most people are going back to the city to get ready for work and school. Having said that, this is a perfect time for people not wanting to brave the crowd the previous day and just hoping to have a reflective and peaceful moments with their deceased loved ones.

5. Now why is November 3 included here? Well, I just added it for fun. Unlike the kids of today, me and my peers did not grow up attending Halloween parties nor trick or treating. But that’s not to say we missed a lot. Aside from the scary stories we shared as kids and the scary film we watched together on TV (which was too much for me), for years we always do one cool yet creepy thing together a day after Undas. We’d usually troop the cemetery armed with our tools – stick, scissors, plus our bags. The older kids who’d go with us had their own small scalpels or knives. Excitedly, we’ll roam around the cemetery and treat it like an ordinary park. We’ll go around the graves and painstakingly scrape the melted candles on them. Then when we had enough, we’ll go to people making candles to sell our wax. After weighing, they’d give us a small amount which we’ll use to buy candies and other stuffs. Quite an achievement, huh! But more than the small earnings and little treasures we bought, it was the tiny bit of adventure we had that matters a lot.

That’s it! Halloweening Pinoy style. A Western tradition made lovingly ours.

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