…a ghostly festival…
Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints Day. Much like Day of the Dead celebrations, the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Eve also incorporates traditions from pagan harvest festivals and festivals honoring the dead. In the Philippines, it is a full blown-two day holiday.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, watching horror films, as well as the the religious observances of praying and attending vigils or church services. In this Southeast Asian country, more than a million Filipinos will pack into various cemeteries around the country in a day..
Halloween in the Philippines is variously called “Undas” (based on the word for “[the] first”), “Todos los Santos” (“All Saints”), and sometimes “Araw ng mga Patay” (“Day of the Dead”), which refers to the following day of All Souls’ Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally keep the two days by visiting the graves of deceased relatives, offering prayers and flowers, light candles and clean and repair the graves. People typically spend the day, sometimes even the whole night, picnicking and holding reunions at the cemetery near their loved ones.
The crowds here in Manila South Cemetery were relatively mild at the time of my visit, on the eve of All Saints Day. There was in some areas a party-like atmosphere, and it wasn’t hard to miss the obvious contrast between the better-kept tombs and the poorer sections of this public graveyard; and of course there was the obvious abundance of vendors and food stands found inside as well as on the near-by streets surrounding the cemetery, which had to be closed to vehicular traffic.
A parade was scheduled to take part inside the cemetery later on that night, where gays and ghouls in both colorful and frightful costumes marched around to the delight of those still inside, making for a complete ghostly festival. As darkness began to fall, I chose to skip it this time, as a higher duty called…
..until next time..