Halloween is a day where people can dress up, attend parties, and go trick-or-treating for free candy, but in the Philippines, this annual celebration goes well beyond the usual traditions.
As a predominantly Catholic nation, the Philippines celebrates Halloween with devotion. The festivities start on October 31 or sometimes October 30, depending on the year.
The celebration continues during two consecutive national holidays in the country: All Saints’ Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2.
Thousands of families flock to local cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and stay there for the entire day. Some even set up camp and spend the night.
Some families use this opportunity to bond and catch up with their relatives, especially those who don’t see each other on a regular basis.
Going to the cemetery, setting up camp and spending the day there is one of the many traditions that Filipinos faithfully follow every year.
There are other old traditions such as atang (food offering) when families place the favorite meals of deceased loved ones on their grave or in front of their pictures at home.
Then there’s Pangangaluluwa — the Philippines’ own version of trick-or-treating — when people go door to door to sing for the dead in exchange for small cash or alms. It is unclear when this tradition started, but a video report from GMA News’ “Saksi” states that this practice originated as far back as the 1700s.
Another old tradition that is still being practiced today is candle lighting in front of homes. Candles are lit in the evening and are believed to help light up the way for the dead as they travel into the afterlife.
The number of people going to the cemetery before the actual holidays pales in comparison to the people arriving during the peak of All Saints’ Day.
According to the Manila Police District, around 1.1 million people visited Manila North Cemetery at around 2 p.m. on November 1, Inquirer reported.
While cemeteries in the Philippines were packed during the holidays, partygoers also made their way to local bars to celebrate.
The number of people going to celebrate this holiday is growing.
“We’ve been operating for two years and we think that patrons have significantly increased year after year,” Winslow, the marketing lead for Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew, told NextShark.
To all the Filipinos and Filipino Americans out there, what did you do this Halloween? Share your stories!
All Images by Bryan Ke