How Is Halloween Celebrated in the Philippines?

Updated on August 9, 2019
emievil profile image

Having grown up in the Philippines, I've gotten a first-hand look at how our culture celebrates the spookiest time of the year.

Halloween celebrations in the Philippines don't look very similar to those in the West, but they're just as much fun.
Halloween celebrations in the Philippines don't look very similar to those in the West, but they're just as much fun. | Source

Halloween here in the Philippines is not like Halloween in most Western countries. Although it is a major holiday in the Philippines, much like it is in the U.S. and other Western nations, Filipinos celebrate it in a different manner.

The traditions and events associated with Halloween in the Philippines usually begin a week or so before October 31st and don't conclude until after November 2nd. Due to our strong Catholic background, November 1st and 2nd are spent remembering our dead loved ones. On these two days, most of us can be found in the same places—our local cemeteries and memorial parks.

We in the Philippines don’t celebrate all hallows eve by pumpkin-carving or apple-bobbing (although families in some areas have begun to practice trick-or-treating)—we celebrate it with flickering candles, fragrant flowers, thoughtful prayers, and group visits to the cemetery.

A Timeline of Filipino Halloween Customs

As mentioned earlier, the Filipino observance of Halloween does not occur on a single night. Including preparations, Halloween celebrations span a week or more. The following is a general timeline of events you could expect to see in the Philippines around Halloween.

A Week Before October 31st

About a week before Halloween, an intensive cleaning process begins in the cemeteries that hold our loved ones. Graves receive fresh coats of paint, grass is cut, shrubs are trimmed, paths are swept, and our graveyards are beautified. These tasks are completed in preparation for the mass cemetery visits that occur on November 1st and 2nd.

Candles and flowers are the two most popular offerings used by Halloween revelers to honor the dead in the Philippines.
Candles and flowers are the two most popular offerings used by Halloween revelers to honor the dead in the Philippines. | Source

A Few Days Before November 1st

In anticipation of the holiday, people travel from all over the Philippines back to their hometowns (we call these provinces) to visit their dead loved ones. During the days leading up to November 1st, airports, airplanes, ships, and busses are all absolutely packed. The height of this “travel season” is October 31st—On this day, most employees are permitted to take the whole day off to catch the last bus, ship, or plane destined for their hometown.

The Night of October 31st

On Halloween night, most people are busily preparing for the next day. By this time, many people have already purchased the candles, flowers, and picnic supplies that they plan to bring to the cemeteries the following day. While most people are arranging and packing their materials, those who arrived late scramble to purchase last-minute supplies.

Filipino cemeteries like this one in Santa Rosa, Calabarzon fill with revelers bearing candles and flowers to honor their deceased loved ones on All Saints' Day.
Filipino cemeteries like this one in Santa Rosa, Calabarzon fill with revelers bearing candles and flowers to honor their deceased loved ones on All Saints' Day. | Source

November 1st

November 1st is known as All Saints' Day. On this day, Filipino cemeteries and memorial parks overflow with the relatives of the buried, especially in the afternoon and evening. Traffic around cemeteries becomes fairly tight, and policemen and other law enforcement personnel remain nearby to ensure the mass celebrations remain peaceful and orderly.

November 2nd

November 2nd is known as All Souls' Day. Many people who do not want to brave the cemetery crowds on November 1st opt instead to pay their remembrances on All Souls' Day. While still crowded, cemeteries tend to be less noisy and more somber on the 2nd. For those who live and work in large cities, November 2nd is usually spent traveling back home in order to resume work the following day.

Halloween Celebrations in the Philippines Are Fun

You might think we have a very boring Halloween here in the Philippines. After all, cemeteries, graves, and prayers make for a pretty serious-sounding affair. In reality, spending Halloween in the cemetery is actually a lot of fun. All Saints' Day serves as a miniature reunion for families and friends who only get to see each other once a year.

Tents, shelters, chairs, and tables are set up in front of gravesites to provide a venue for family and other visitors to eat, talk, and celebrate their ancestors. The air comes alive with music as radios are turned on and instruments are played. Graveside karaoke is not at all uncommon. Families and friends sing, dance, and play board games in every corner of our memorial parks.

Best of all, food and drink flow freely—most people bring overflowing baskets of home-cooked delicacies to share. For those who run out of food, drinks, candles, or even flowers, vendors stand by around the cemeteries selling extra supplies.

There you have it! That's Halloween, Filipino style! It's quite different from Halloween in the west, but I assure you it's just as much fun.

Questions & Answers

    Happy Halloween!

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      • profile image

        hey 

        10 months ago

        no they are not idiots. they spend it in a special way

      • profile image

        valerie 

        10 months ago

        What do philippines eat for halloween?

      • profile image

        Linda 

        23 months ago

        What a meaningful way to spend Halloween, sounds like it brings families closer than ever, which is a wonderful thing. I'd certainly be a great supporter of this practice, whereas I do not go along with any of our western Halloween tradition.

      • profile image

        Girl 

        2 years ago

        Weird I never knew this

      • profile image

        lOUIE 

        3 years ago

        This is to prove Filipinos copy everything they see in the West. even though its not their tradition.. Pinoys are idiots

      • profile image

        rovy 

        4 years ago

        IIt's nice and cool...

      • profile image

        observer 

        7 years ago

        So which one is the original? This or this one sunnytoast.blogspot.com/2011/10/happy-halloween.html

      • profile image

        alison ladlow 

        7 years ago

        Clearly, Nostradamas' 7074 quatrain shows that the dead really will rise from their graves at halloween 2011. Be prepared!

      • brennawelker profile image

        brennawelker 

        7 years ago

        Great hub. Thanks for sharing this info about Filipinos.

      • profile image

        Gift Philippines' Lady 

        8 years ago

        Halloween is almost here again in Canada for 2010, and we are not doing any cemetaries! Lol, maybe when I'm in Bicol again next year..

        Don't forget the Red Horse. :P

      • profile image

        prety girl 

        8 years ago

        lol idk what we talking about lol hahahahaha :}

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Topgun, LOL, that too.

      • topgunjager profile image

        topgunjager 

        9 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

        you forgot getting drunk in the cemeteries=)

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Thanks lancelonie.

      • lancelonie profile image

        lancelonie 

        9 years ago

        Very cool! I was just beginning to blog this . . . but in my personal way . . . in my own blog, not hubpages.

        This is really true. I'm now missing our own way of celebrating it... :)

        Cool hub!

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Keira, thanks. What happened to you? Where's your hubpage?

      • profile image

        keira7 

        9 years ago

        Thank you Emievil for this nice hub. Take care.

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Thanks GoldiString. Wow, I miss mahjong and tong-its. How about bingo in the cemetery (though I don't see this often)? Card games are really something during the Halloween.

        Thanks yt.

      • yt55500900 profile image

        yt55500900 

        9 years ago

        Nice Hub !!!

      • GoldiString profile image

        GoldiString 

        9 years ago

        Emie what a score..100! congrats. We play mahjong and tong-its at the cemetery. Spooky mahjong! lol. Pinoy Halloween eh?

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Hi SP. We really don't fly all the time as plane tickets here are really kind of expensive. Oftentimes, we travel by ship (though that can sometimes take a day or two) or by bus. When it's Halloween here, all of these are really, really filled. I think Halloween here is the equivalent of your Thanksgiving there.

      • SweetiePie profile image

        SweetiePie 

        9 years ago from Southern California, USA

        Fascinating look at Halloween as celebrated in the Philippines. I am curious do all Philippines fly when they travel? I assume this has to do with there being so many islands? I am just curious as I have never been there.

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Thanks GH.

        Thanks Paradise. Yup, we celebrate Halloween differently but we are fast catching up with the Western world. Some parts of my country already have trick or treats and witches and parties and the whole works. But still it's really a day for us to remember our dead loved ones.

      • Paradise7 profile image

        Paradise7 

        9 years ago from Upstate New York

        Good hub for the Hub Mob!! I realize now how different that celebration is in the Philippines from the American way of celebrating. I like the idea, very much, of remembering our lost loved ones, and bringing them gifts of flowers, and celebrating the remembrances with family parties.

      • GeneralHowitzer profile image

        Gener Geminiano 

        9 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

        Great job emie...

      • emievil profile imageAUTHOR

        emievil 

        9 years ago from Philippines

        Hi dohn. Er I'm not really sure what you mean by animists. The Nov. 1 and 2 traditions are mainly because of our Catholic religion. Thanks for your comment on the celebration, yup, it's a once-in-a year event that we all look forward to =).

        Hello, Germany huh? Didn't know it's also celebrated the same way there. Next time, I'll look for an article / hub about Germany's Nov. 1 and 2. Sounds like we have the same traditions for these days =).

        You're welcome sabreblade. Thanks for dropping by.

      • sabrebIade profile image

        sabrebIade 

        9 years ago from Pennsylvania

        Very interesting.

        I had now idea how it was done there.

        Thank you for the info.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        9 years ago from London, UK

        We, in Germany, also celebrated 31 October and 1 November like that. We too go to the cemetry and every grave looks absolutely perfect, planted with flowers and lantern which will be lit on the 31 October's evening.

        The Halloween only came in with the Allies and there are dances in the halls.

        I like that sitting around the grave with the whole family.

        That is lovely. Thank you for telling us all about it.

      • dohn121 profile image

        dohn121 

        9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

        Wow, Ernie. This is quite a different take on Halloween and paying homage to our deceased loved ones! Were Filipinos ever animists at one time or another? In South East Asia, people were animists before becoming Buddhists during the turn of the first Millennium. What a fascinating hub! I like how its an event that is geared to celebration rather than mourning. Thank you.

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