Last year I wrote a short post on the origins of Halloween. It has perhaps surprised some Filipinos who now live abroad, that locals have embraced or adopted this holiday with incredible speed. Commercialization more than westernization is probably the key culprit but personally, because it is primarily a kids holiday, I don’t really mind the trend… in the same way that I have done Easter Eggs for decades, gingerbread houses, left money under the pillow for the tooth fairy and well, ate the cookies that were left out for that jolly white haired overweight gift bearer at Christmas… While I understand that we are getting so much more westernized in many ways, I more than most, I think, have also sought to discover more and more of our native produce, cuisine and customs — so I think it balances out. While I am proud that I stradle multiple cultures, that does not mean I would fuse everything together… At any rate, Halloween is probably here to stay… from the outrageous office costume parties (isn’t that incredibly Filipino in a way?), to the ridiculously decorated malls (hanging pumpkins my pet peeve), the made-in-China masks for PHP20 and the excessive amount of sweets…how could it not?
Even before we had our own offsprout (as opposed to offspring), my wife and I used to really get into this holiday… in High School, as a fund raiser, we set up a “Haunted House” at an elementary school to raise funds… the kids bought tickets and they went through this dark labyrinth with spooky music playing and monsters growling and cold hand grabbing their feet. For the most part, they loved it and kept wanting to go back through the maze… we raised a LOT of money from that activity. And if I recall correctly, a very young Nino Muhlach was a customer and he ran rapidly out of the Haunted House absolutely petrified and screaming his head off…heehee. Whatever happened to that child acting prodigy?
In later years, we set up “coffins” at home where I use to lay and when the trick or treaters came close I would blink or move and the screams were worth the effort, believe me. Now, in our middle age, we have toned things down a bit, and while The Kid and her friends do the rounds of the village, we stay home and give out upwards of 5,000 candies as a blitzkrieg of trick or treaters starts coming at 3p.m. This is another pet peeve, by the way, holding the holiday at 3 pm, in broad daylight, when it should really be in a bit of darkness so that everyone can see my hand-carved original jack-o-lantern with votive candle inside….heehee. Worse, some villages and malls have changed the date for convenience and so that kids can go to several venues over the course of 2-3 days…now, THAT I find too much. Who would think to change Idul Fitri or Christmas to run over several days instead of one? Then again, isn’t Christmas a three month holiday in the Philippines?
This is one activity that really leaves an impression on kids. For several years, we have also invited the kids of all of our staff to come and trick or treat in the village. They come decked out in costumes and gamely hit hundreds of houses in a short span of time. They come back loaded with goodies and apparently the candy lasts them through Christmas, at least! Every year they are incredibly excited, as my daughter is, to go trick or treating. This year I found these fantastic orange jack-o-lantern backpacks at Shoemart for just PHP50 each and already packed with some candy…but I added about 300 grams more of goodies to really make something special and a bit over the top… guests at our home will receive one of these…
All other trick or treaters will get a handful of this massive pile of packaged candy. It’s interesting to see what some folks give out…some houses used to give out ice-cream, others water or juices, still others fruit instead of sweets. I like the tradtional choice, sugar in all its forms… From our home to yours, we wish you a Happy Halloween!!! (P.S. the carved kalabasa up top is a large native variety…I photoshop-ed it to make it look a bit more menacing!)