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Halloween – Filipino Style

Updated on July 1, 2011

All Hallows’ Even

Halloween which was a very big celebration in the western, was never been a part of Filipino tradition until recently. When I was a kid I would just hear some of my aunt attending Halloween parties, but it was never a big deal before, unlike now that you can see traces everywhere that Halloween is coming. Just last year I was on the mall on the Halloween and kids were dressed in their Halloween costumes handling their Halloween baskets and hopping from store to store to ask for their treats. What a joy it could bring to children’s faces. For them gloominess during All Saints Day was transformed into one delightful celebration. There is something other than Christmas which children would wait to come. I was thinking that I and my daughter would probably try that this year; if not maybe we could just go to some exclusive subdivisions because they were observing Halloween longer than the other. I think for some reason the rich ones are the one who have first adopted Halloween celebrations from other countries. Until now not everybody yet really joined in this celebration. But I wouldn’t be surprised if sooner or later there would also be a Halloween version of the “monito-monita” (exchange gifts during Christmas season) but on these times scary stuff would be the theme of the gifts.

Origin of name

The term Halloween, originally spelled Hallowe’en, is shortened from All Hallows’ Even ("All Hallows' Eve") [eve is an abbreviation of even, an older word for evening. Halloween gets -een as a contraction of even to e'en], from the Old English term eallra hālgena ǣfen meaning "All Hallow' Evening", as it is the eve of "All Hallows’ Day", which is now also known as All Saints’ Day.

The Filipinos way of celebrating “Halloween” in the old times

I haven’t experience this yet but it is said that some people in far provinces still practice this old tradition which is “Pangangaluluwa”.

“Pangangaluluwa” was done during the eve of All Saint’s Day or the Halloween. It is like a caroling and a trick or treat roll into one. The group goes house to house from 10:00pm onwards. They are usually dress like ghosts and they sing:

Pangngaluluwa lyrics

Kaluluwa’y dumaratal

Sa tapat ng Durungawan

Kampanilya’y tinatantay

Ginigising ang mga buhay

Kung kami po’y lilimusan

Dali-dalian po lamang

Baka kami mapagsarhan

Ng pinto ng kalangitan

Kaluluwa kaming tambing

Sa purgatoryo nanggaling

Palimos po!

which means something like this:

The souls have just arrived

Across your window side

Bells are being ring

Waking up the living

If you will spare us alms

Please hurry up and give us some

The heavens gate

Will close in time

We are the lost souls

From the purgatory we have arise


Click thumbnail to view full-size

Some houses give coins and there were some who will just invite the group to eat some Filipino delicacy such as suman, kakanin or the like. It has been said that the people grow tired of giving and inviting people in their houses because there were some who take advantage of the situation and stole some goods or properties in the backyard, especially chicken which were usually placed in the basement of the house.

All Hallows' Day

November 1st and 2nd, “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day”, the only twin holiday here in the Philippines. Most of the Filipinos find time to go to the cemetery before these dates to clean the tomb of their love ones. And the big day is “All Saints Day” wherein families spend their whole day in the cemetery bringing flowers and lighting candles for their departed loved ones. They bring food as well not just for them but also for the relatives and friends who visit and pray for their loved ones. Some take this as an opportunity to reunite and to bond, and so they bring things such as radio, cards, guitars, etc. for the enjoyment of the whole family. Cemeteries during November 1 are all busy and crowded, that’s why there were some who just visit the cemetery on October 31st or November 2nd to avoid the crowd.

Some families who have transferred to far away place will just pray for them at home and light one candle for each of their lost family members.

Note: To those who know the official or complete lyrics of Pangangaluluwa, please don't hesitate to let me know. Thanks!


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