It’s that spooky time of the year again where ghastly ghouls and little cute fairies pop-up from every corner to trick or treat their way into getting those sweet confectionaries.
It’s that season where establishments go out and beyond to design their spaces with horrific edifices. Everyone is in full force with their spooktacular specials, promos and gimmicks to trivialize the season.
But apart from celebrating the Halloween Season as ornamented as we do nowadays, the Philippines has and still approach All Souls and All Saints Day quite solemnly and with respect to culture and traditions.
A week before Halloween is usually the start of preparations to commemorate the departed in most places in the Philippines. Families start to clean-up the graves of their deceased loved ones. These graves are sometimes painted anew, leaves and dust are swept, grasses cut and everything is ensured pristine for their visit in the coming days.
A couple of days before October 31, people start their journey their respective provinces especially those who do not want to get caught in the gridlock that comes with the exodus of families leaving the metro for the holiday break.
It has become a standard picture when you see thousands upon thousands of commuters flock bus stations, airports, seaports and other terminals just to catch a ride back to their home town in time for November 1. This is pandemonium so don’t expect any solemnity in these days.
Preparing for All Saints Day- which the Filipinos still mistakenly celebrate in honor of their dearly departed (That’s actually what November 2 is for, but all is forgiven), families are busy with the food, candles, snacks to bring to the cemetery.
Come November 1, which is All Saint’s Day by all means and definitions, majority if not all Filipinos observe this day to honor the souls of their departed loved ones. This is the day where memorial parks and cemeteries are filled to the brim and traffic is at a standstill, especially along these parks and cemeteries.
Law enforcement personnel are on heightened alert to keep the peace and orderliness of the season in check while LGUs help in maintaining the smooth flow of people visiting their departed.
In this time, flowers are offered to the graves of the dead as well as the offering of food in some provinces in the Philippines. Prayers are also uttered and special masses are held to honor the saints.
When November 2 comes, the buzz and busyness of the previous day has toned down and the real somber begins. The remaining families that have yet to visit their deceased take this time as an advantage to visit the graves of their departed without the hassle and all the ruckus unlike the preceding day.
For the rest of the people however, this is the day that the trip back to the metropolis starts and the normal routine resumes for most Filipinos.
The Holloween season here in the Philippines is an affair mixed with the new trends that are fun and exciting, but still, the values and the respect for the departed remain.