Halloween is around the corner. Although I would have loved to write about spooky stories and the top ten candies to give out during this season, I thought it would be nice to explore the different sides of it.
I never really heard or celebrated Halloween when I was very little. I lived in the Philippines until I was seven and Halloween wasn’t really a big deal. No one dressed up in their favourite superheroes or princesses. Not to mention going around other people’s houses asking for treats, that wasn’t really a thing that occurred.
But there is one particular event that happens around the same time as Halloween, particularly, November 1. November 1st is All Souls Day. You’ve probably heard of this. I mean if you watched Pixar’s Coco, then you have a pretty good idea of what this is.
Instead of dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating, families would spend this entire day celebrating and remembering their dead loved ones. November 1st of every year is huge for many Filipino families. To a point where copious amounts of food are cooked to be brought at the memorial parks and/cemeteries. Extended families make the effort of going back home, causing major delays in various ports and bus routes around the country due to their want to celebrate this tradition.
Growing up I witnessed All Souls Day quite a lot. You would think that a day like this can be quite grim because of the environment that surrounds death. But that wasn’t really the case. I mean, obviously, there were moments of sadness because you’re remembering the death of a loved one. Yet, from what I saw and still witness (through pictures from relatives), the good things that come out of this day outweighs the bad any day.
I can still remember the whole setup. The cemeteries and memorial parks would be cleaned. The amount of flowers and candles are purchased for the day. While others are preparing the spread of food that would be available for families and friends. Various chairs and seating areas are set-up for visitors paying their respects. There are those setting up tents to either keep the sun away or protect themselves from the possibility of rain. Kids are there running around and playing different games to pass the time. The chatter of titos and titas (uncle and aunts) asking how you’ve been. While lolos and lolas (grandpas and grandmas) reminisce about the great memories of the dead. In every corner you see different vendors selling various things, from candles to ice cream. People taking pictures of those who made the trip back home, because this day can serve as a small family reunion. Of course, the occasional karaoke machine is present because it’s a must-have for any celebration in the Philippines. You can hear and feel the buzz in the air.
It may not be trick-or-treating, but All Souls Day is as much fun and enjoyable as Halloween every year it comes around.