halloween memories

October 29, 2009 at 8:49 am 4 comments

halloween is a special holiday in the philippines occurring on the first of november. it’s designated as a day of remembrance. it’s a time when filipinos pay their respects to the dead.

halloween reminds me of the house of my paternal grandparents in the philippines. it was the house along the public highway close to the catholic church and the elementary school in our hometown. being one of the biggest in the town, it wasn’t easy to miss. during the second world war, the japanese took it over and converted it into sleeping quarters for officers.

my cousins and i used to call it “bahay na malaki.” translated into english, it means “the big house.” it had a big yard with fruit trees that we loved to climb. a couple of them were tamarind trees that towered three stories high. darn, it was on those trees that my fear of heights first manifested itself.

i never saw my paternal grandparents. they died before i was born. it must be because from a brood of seven, my father was second to the youngest and the last one to get married. but while i was growing up, they remained alive with stories from family members and people who knew them.

whenever my cousins from manila would come for a visit, they stayed in the big house. they’d usually come during halloween and other holidays. my childhood was filled with happy memories when they were around. they were the best friends i ever had when i was growing up.

as halloween drew near, i’d start looking forward to my cousins’ arrival. typically, they’d come a few days before the holiday. once they arrived, we’d go to the cemetery and look after the graves of our grandparents, uncle, and cousin. we’d wash their graves thoroughly and put a fresh coat of paint on them and clean the surroundings of weeds and debris as well. we’d always try to do a good job as our efforts were usually rewarded with money for ice cream treats.

come halloween morning, the whole family would go to the cemetery to visit their graves to honor and pay them respects. we’d bring along flowers and burn candles on their graves. the day would be spent in praying for their souls, reminiscing the past, and keeping updated of each other’s current activities. we, the kids, would take turns collecting the wax melting away from the burning candles and shape them into a ball. by end of day, we’d be able to make several of these balls of wax which we used for our home-made lanterns.

in the evening, there’d be a huge family dinner at the big house. after dinner, mahjong tables would be set up. while the adults played mahjong, the kids would go from house to house around the neighborhood with their home-made lanterns. they’d sing in front of every house, announce that they were lost souls seeking their way back to purgatory, and then ask for handouts. it was easy money all the way.

the following day, if it fell on a saturday or sunday, the adult males would go to the cockfight with their favorite roosters. it didn’t matter to the women whether they’d win or not. if their roosters won, we’d have lobsters for dinner that night or whatever special fare they could buy outside the cockpit house. if they lost, the roosters would be cooked and served.

it’s been many years since the big house was torn down and replaced with a more modern house by my uncle who had inherited the place. even then, i still dream of that big house. i guess we’ll never outgrow our childhood completely. part of it will never leave and remain with us until we die.


Entry filed under: Blogroll, filipino, humor, personal, philippines, relatives. Tags: , , , , , , .

bedtime secrets The Walls Have Ears

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. J.Kulisap  |  October 29, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Masarap sariwain ang kamusmusan, yong panahon kung saan hindi pa natin masyadong nakikilala ang lumbay at pagdadalamhati.
    Ang okasyong ito ay panahon din ng pagtitipon o muling pagkikita ng mga magkakamag-anak. Isang napakagandang pag-uugali nating mga Pinoy, paggalang at pagrespeto sa mga namayapang mahal sa buhay. Sila ay hindi dapat malimot dahil gaya ng malaking bahay, sila ang nagsilbing daan patungo sa kung saan tayo naroroon ngayon.

    • 2. plaridel  |  October 30, 2009 at 11:23 am


      kay sarap isipin ng mga undas nung tayo ay mga bata pa. nagbibigay ng tuwa kahit nakalipas na at di na muling babalik.

  • 3. AC  |  November 4, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Ahhh… Very very typical Pinoy family. I can also imagine our Halloween in the province when I was young. Ang saya diba?

    I love the Philippines! 🙂

    • 4. plaridel  |  November 4, 2009 at 9:50 am


      those were the days that won’t come back again.


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