Trick or Treat? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 November 2011 14:41

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

Now that Halloween is over folks who continue to mark this day in a special way can put away the costumes and the other props. If there are left over candies meant for “treats” these can be eaten now and hope no one goes hyperglycemic.

I am not particularly sold on Halloween and if I had my way I would let the day pass without a comment or  celebratory  note. However, people like what they like and that is their business. If my own taste for celebrations is not along the line of ghouls, vampires and the like I let people alone with their own preference.

My thoughts  on the matter of Halloween dwells on  what defines us as Filipinos. We are Filipinos in how we deal with other people – members of our nuclear family and the extended family and people who are not related to us. We are Filipinos in what we eat or how we dress or what we have in our homes. We are Filipinos in what we value or what we pursue as valuable. Etc. etc.  I do  not intend this to read like a freshman essay on cultural identity. But when an event like Halloween comes up I  wonder how something foreign like this has entered our practices.

Days before October 30 the pages of our newspapers  are filled with ads touting this special Halloween promo in this hotel or this mall. We see photos of young kids dressed in special costumes available in this department store. And not just kids but adults too; there was this photo of teachers from a school district somewhere in the Philippines all dressed as ghouls. I was also told that in a local school the mothers of prep school kids joined their children on the day itself dressed appropriately in scary costumes.

Halloween has become so much a part of October that parties even for adults are organized around the theme of Halloween. When I was still in school many years ago this was not the case. How did we get here?

I bristle at the thought that we may  have reached this point because our society has been manipulated by the merchants who sell newspapers and magazines, those who sell costumes and those who sell parties. If I am not too far off the track then it is good for us to reflect  on whether we want to be manipulated ( exploited?)  by those who profit  from consumerism.

Is celebration of Halloween something that makes us more aware of ourselves as Filipinos? A letter writer to a Manila newspaper used very strong words in expressing his concern about the tendency of Filipinos to ape other cultural ( read that American) practices even if these have no meaning within our culture. He said that we are great “imitators”. Perhaps his position is a bit too strong but it should move us to reflect on the matter. Our prep school kids are exposed to this practice and in their innocent minds they will think that they are very much like their American counterparts.

Our kids are still not much into “trick or treat” but any way you look at it this Halloween practice in the US is really extortion. We have enough of the criminal extortion type for our kids to learn a milder version.