November 2, 2007

Photo taken from: Wikipedia:Halloween.
It’s just past the Halloween season and people half a world away have just finished dressing up into all kinds of costumes and go trick or treating. I would have passed the holiday off as aloofly as if I didn’t even know academically what Halloween* was until I saw kids dressing up for it on TV.
So my first thought was, “Awww. They look so cute in those costumes.”
Then my second thought surfaced, “But wait; is this TV showing reality? Why are these Filipino children dressing up as ghouls, witches, and ghosts; and what’s with the jack-o’-lantern buckets they’re carrying?”
Never mind that they’re miles away from where I am. They’re still standing on Philippine soil. They’re still Filipinos, at least from their looks. They just looked so alien with their costumes and their trick or treating in a time when Filipinos are traditionally supposed to go out to the cemeteries to be with their deceased loved ones. The sight of them awakened the latent activist in me that I was about to lash out about colonial mentality when something struck me.
I realized that I am also not a traditional Filipino, but it is due more to religious upbringing and choice rather than colonial mentality. I do not celebrate fiestas. I have next to no knowledge of Filipino superstitions especially the ones involving Holy Week and Halloween. And to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t even visited deceased relatives during Halloween periods. I think I’m about as WASPy as any non White, and Non Anglo Saxon can be.
So I forgave the children their celebration. I believe it is a fundamental right of citizens in a democratic country to pursue happiness in a legitimate manner, even though it may be for a religious reason or something else. Besides, the Americans did not invent the Halloween celebration we are familiar with. They have the Scottish and Irish immigrants to thank for it.

*In the Philippines, the Halloween period, which stretches from Oct 31 to Nov 2 is called undas in Tagalog, and kalag kalag in Cebuano. The real observance date is on Nov 1 but people start to keep vigil in cemeteries on its eve. This holiday is called Día de los Muertos in Spanish, or Araw ng mga Patay in Tagalog, Day of the Dead in English, and is practiced in many Roman Catholic countries on All Soul’s Day or All Saint’s Day, but with different traditions.


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