Halloween in the Philippines: Pangangaluluwà

Pangangaluluwà is the rural filipino tradition of celebrating All Soul’s Day Eve.  Kids would form groups and go house to house offering a song in exchange for money or food. The children would sing and residents would offer a kind of filipino version of a soul cake, usually súman, a kind of rice cake.  They are said to represent the souls stuck in purgatory, asking for prayers from the living to help them get to heaven. The carolers would also be allowed to steal sundry items from homes they visited, such as clothes from clotheslines, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. The householders would explain away the thefts as caused by the spirits returning to the world of the living.

Starting at midnight of November 1st and through November 2nd, families celebrate All Souls’ Day by taking a time off their busy schedules to go and visit graves. It’s like an informal family reunion because everyone drops in and visits the graves of even the most distant relatives.  You bring flowers and candles, clean headstones, some light gardening around the plot, and even make food for your dead ones. Usually you stay for the whole day keeping the candles lit and catching up on family news.

The Pangangaluluwà tradition is fading, and now a days (especially in the cities) most just celebrate a traditional western Halloween with Trick or Treating, before celebrating All Souls’ Day