When it comes to celebrating special holidays and fiestas, nobody does it better or more wholeheartedly than Filipinos. The whole nation jumps in with both feet and no reservations, unashamedly losing their inhibitions and making merry as if there was no tomorrow, and at no time of year do you see this more clearly than for Halloween.
In Manila, the whole city gets into the festive spirit and gets inspired; bars and condominium blocks start decorating a couple of weeks before, with effigies of monsters and ghouls, pumpkin lanterns, festoons, garlands, and all sorts of other decorations filling up the communal areas. Most condos will host their own little bash (normally for the kids), and they’re always well-attended, giving everyone an opportunity to get to know their neighbors. For families with kids, Manila certainly entertains during Halloween.
Out on the streets, there will be parades and street parties with imaginative floats and processions full of people that have truly made the effort to dress up as extravagantly as possible, and you’ll find many stages with live music all over town. Even the Burgos area in Makati, normally a no-go area for families and kids, becomes reasonably kid-friendly and innocent as the whole street warps into one seamless carefree party, with several stages featuring live bands, dancers showing off the routines they’ve been practicing since the previous Halloween, and MCs hosting competitions with prizes. It’s fiesta time and there’s a definite carnival atmosphere in the air.
However, it’s the people who make this such a jovial and entertaining day. In the UK, some may dress up, others may go along and watch the proceedings, but most will be blasé, treating it all as something for the kids, maybe attending a party, but in a nonchalant manner at best. “People make a party”, which means that Halloween in the UK is generally quite a flat affair; if the people aren’t into it, then how can it possibly be a worthwhile gathering?
In Manila, on the other hand, the people join in and celebrate, immersing themselves in the fun and losing themselves in the moment, shedding their inhibitions and their ‘coolness’ in exchange for an innocent but raucous time spent being silly in the company of strangers.
The Filipino people are generally unconcerned about the whole idea of being too old for a certain ‘silliness’ and, for that reason, Halloween is a fantastic occasion. So, forget your hang-ups, dress up, and get childish.