I read today that the President of the Philippines, Noynoy Aquino had declared that October 31st would not be a holiday in the Philippines. Feeling pretty smug, I told my wife while we chatted online during my lunch time that “Halloween wasn’t going to be a holiday this year”. “LOL,” I added.
Then I remembered that, while the Americanized Halloween holiday has been gaining ground in the Philippines as a day to dress up in costume, have parties and get candy, the really big deal for Filipinos is the next day: November 1st is All Saints Day.
Filipinos travel far and wide over the days prior to All Saints Day to be with their families and so that they can participate in the Filipino tradition of Undas. Much time is spent in the cemetery, cleaning and decorating the headstones of their departed loved ones and even eating and drinking right beside the graves. It’s a beautiful tradition which helps maintain the bond between the living and those who have passed. The day can be emotionally painful or reflective, somber or festive.
What it isn’t, is smug and flippant like I was being about a hollow holiday like Halloween.
The reason President Aquino had declared that the 31st was not a holiday is because in some years, it is declared as such for the convenience of people who are planning to travel to be with their families for All Saints Day.
Once I realized the real reason for the President’s announcement, I told my wife that I was sorry that I had been thinking with my Kano (American) brain.
photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc