Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tricks and Treats

Halloween in the Philippines is hilarious, and slightly surreal.

Trick-or-treating does take place, in a weird sort of way. Many of the malls and businesses sponsor trick-or-treat events, usually a few days before the actual holiday. But the house-to-house routine really only happens inside the villages.

A village is a community of very large houses surrounded by a ginormous barbed-wire, cinder-block wall and a gate with guards. There are at least a dozen villages just within our little corner of Metro Manila. The villages are home to politicians, diplomats, executives--and foreigners with expat packages. Each individual house is surrounded by its own wall and gate. You interact with your neighbors as little as possible. The only family within our village we speak to and see on a regular basis is the American family down the street.

So. On Halloween each village opens its doors to trick-or-treaters from all walks of life, regardless of race, economic status, age, or the presence of a costume. Our village cheated and did this three days early. But the village down the street, where our good friends the Openshaws live, waited for the 31st and we were all about getting the authentic experience. Except not cold, dark, or spooky. We settled for hot and humid, and controlled chaos. And a marching band.
It works like this: The home owners (those who participate) send their house help to stand outside the gate with a basket or sit at a table and pass out treats. No Snickers or Reeses or Skittles or even Tootsie Rolls or Dum-Dum pops, unfortunately. Imported candy is expensive here, it melts, and there are HUNDREDS of trick-or-treaters, at least half of them well past puberty. Instead they pass out local treats: little bags of chips or hard candies or wafer cookies or whatever. All KINDS of strange stuff. Tiny cups of gelatin (very popular here), gummies--even something called Totoy Tongniks Crunchy Corniks (garlic flavor). It's a plus for our kids, though. Keeps Mom and Dad from raiding their stash.

The marching band

We had a blast. The atmosphere was festive. Giddy, even. I couldn't keep up with the eight-year-old. The five-year-old's feet got tired. The one-year-old was done after a couple of houses. But they looked so cute! And they got something so far and yet still so very close to the authentic experience. (Mom and Dad even got chili and hoagies at the Openshaws afterward.) Next Halloween when we've moved home and the kids are complaining about the cold, I can pull out these pictures and remind them of the trippy, tropical Halloweens half a world away.

Kellie, Amaya, and Avery


Angela said...

I would have never imagined that there was Trick or Treat in the Philippines. Cool! I have a lil' question that I'm curious come it's common practice not to talk to your neighbors? Just wondering :)

Kellie "kiki" Openshaw said...

Oh the joys of living here, we had so much fun with you guys on halloween. i love the jack o lanterns, nice work!

Helena said...

That looks like quite an experience! Love the pumpkins. :) We just had to throw out Kate's big jack o'lantern (it was getting slimy). I don't think she's noticed that it's gone. At least she hasn't said anything about it.

Rose Green said...

Halloween gets interpreted so strangely in different countries! Germany has recently adopted it, and it's mostly a teen holiday. The ward Halloween party was run by the YW, and it was complete with um...animatronic arms and cockroach candy...

Chris said...

Mmmmm...cockroach candy! I'm scared to even ask what that might be. :)

The ward party sounds like a hoot. It would be fascinating to compare how Halloween is observed in different parts of the world.