I grew up in Metro Manila, a Philippine urban jungle that’s pretty much Westernized, for better or for worse. At the end of October, malls would be decked out in Halloween decor. Private schools would have Halloween parades. Gated communities would have Halloween parties and children with their parents and nannies would go around their subdivision trick-or-treating. Horror movies, both local and international, would play on cable television. Halloween wasn’t for everyone, but everyone was familiar with it.
I spent my first Halloween in America in Brooklyn—Clinton Hill, to be exact. The community organized family-friendly, outdoor, Halloween-themed shows to accompany the traditional dressing up and candy-giving occasion. The first show I watched was an amalgamation of monsters and horror movie references. While I never did catch the plot, the appearance of Ultraman made up for it. The second show I got to watch twice. It was a mixture of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and a science lesson on the circulatory system. Its offbeat delivery kept me highly amused. But more than the shows, it was the community that delighted me. Total strangers would laugh and chat with each other. Families would roam the streets together. That sense of togetherness, even if it were just for a few hours, was memorable.
If I were asked to make a comparison between Halloween in the Philippines and Halloween here—we both use this event as an opportunity to comment on the current state of affairs of our respective countries.
Talk about frightening. Happy Halloween, everyone!
Laura is a teaching artist from the Philippines. She is a graduate student in the MA in Applied Theatre Program and is also an Apprentice in the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She enjoys theatre, music, literature, and silliness. This is her first time in the United States. While she finds New York City full of delightful surprises, she has to admit Netflix has made quite an impression on her.