Went to the mall today to pick up a few groceries, a few hours after Typhoon Santi decided he’d slapped enough trees and pulled the fronds out of coconut trees. I was expecting to find the mall deserted, but since the power was out in most parts of the city, everyone and his cousins thought the best thing to do would be to hang out at the mall.
In fact they not only hung out, they came with their kids dressed in costumes ranging from the so-so to the outlandish, to join the mall’s Halloween event. Some wore off the rack assemblies, I think I saw one dressed as a Oakland motorcycle accident lawyer and a couple who looked like bloody mummies.
There was a time when November 1 and 2 meant going to visit our departed relatives wherever they may be interred. These days it means loitering in a mall with your kid in tow dressed like a walking car crash victim, begging treats from the owners and the general public.
November 1 in the Philippines is All Saints Day. It meant going to church (when I was small I did go) and praying for our dearly departed. Now the malls say that we should go the American way and celebrate Halloween, with all the attendant competitions and activities related to that peculiar American holiday.
I don’t think the ordinary Pinoy in the mall concourse knows that Halloween started out as All Hallows Eve in northern Europe thousands of years ago, and brought into America by immigrants. All the ordinary Juan knows is that Americans celebrate Halloween by dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating. Little do they think that trick or treating in the Pinoy context is actually teaching a child early on in his life the joys of extortion.
All in the name of commerce and the creation of the need for a product where there previously was none. The Pinoy is the perfect target for such marketing strategies, we who so idolize the American that we play basketball despite our average heights, and celebrate Halloween though we have no idea why.
Now don’t get me started about the Easter Bunny and egg hunts.