Halloween in the Philippines is celebrated in two distinctly different ways. Costume parties are becoming a regular publicity event for radio stations, clubs and other night spots. In affluent neighborhoods and communities with sizeable expatriate residents, children don their favorite scary costumes to do their rounds of Trick and Treating. My country being a great admirer and imitator of all things American (a statement of fact), Halloween is one celebration complete with pumpkins, witches and ghouls. Any westerner attending a Halloween Party would feel at home.

As for me, I grew up celebrating November 1 as All Souls Day. To the religious Filipino, November 1 is the day to remember loved ones who have passed away. Mass and prayers are offered for the dead. Families gather together to go to cemeteries. They clean the tombs, light candles, and keep vigil for a day. Some even bring food and stay in the cemeteries overnight with the whole family.

My grandparents from both my mother and father's side of the family are buried in the province. On the night of November 1, my mother would light candles, one for each relative and then offer prayers. She would place each candle on our doorway and then prepare food. She would place servings on plates at the dining table and forbid us to touch or eat them. Souls of the departed are believed to visit their living relatives and the food and candles are offerings to them. The candles are allowed to burn down and the food left on the table to be discarded in the morning. As a child, the only thing I fear on All Souls Day was seeing a ghost. Looking back, that's far too boring compared to the witches, zombies, headless riders, ghouls and what-have-you's lurking in the halloween night of western culture. (Growing up taught me that there are other, far more fearsome things but that's another post)

There you go our local mix of Halloween celebration. Costumes and parties became popular of late but visiting tombs, lighting candles, and offering mass and prayers for departed love ones is a long and continuing tradition for us Filipinos.