I have lived in the Philippines long enough to have been present during four Halloween seasons and so far I still have not been able to make it to an All Souls Day event. Jessie is not real fond of cemeteries to say the least. I wanted to go last night and she didn’t. So off I went alone. I was hoping to see a little Filipino style Halloween in the Philippines.
There was not much going on at the little cemetery near our home in Bogo City though. I noticed one family gathering for a long stay at the family plot. They had a lot of food and they were very quiet. Other than that, I didn’t get much of an All Soul’s indoctrination. This is the traditional custom among many Filipinos for All Soul’s day. I probably should have waited another day as November the 1st is the biggest day of this remembrance. I’ll try again next year but I may need to find a different cemetery. There were many vendors setup across from the cemetery though so I was not the only one looking for some Filipino observing All Saint’s Day in the Philippines.
After arriving at the cemetery, a group of kids soon encircling me. I really like to talk with the children but a white man, at the cemetery alone is just not a great place to do that. Many Filipinos assume the worst about a foreigners intentions when it comes to children. It is understandable but I still do not like it. There is also a law in the Philippines making it illegal for an adult to be “in the presence of a minor.” The law is usually executed with a good deal of common sense but who says it always will be? Being an American, I’m use to strict interpretation of law by police officers and I really do not want anything to be left up to discretion when I could be charged with a criminal action.
The law provides for exceptions for family members of course and I’ve never seen anyone prosecuted for it but I have seen two men arrested using this law. It appears to me that it is used primarily as a means to quickly rescue a child from a suspicious situation. In one of the situations where I have seen an arrest made was when an American took a twelve year old girl to Bantayan Island alone. The other case also occurred at Bantayan Island when a man was arrested after children frequently visited his house. The first one left the Philippines while out on bond and the other had charges dropped and still resides at Bantayan Island.
I tried to ignore the kids but one little girl was quite delightful and engaging for a 11 year old. She soon asked me my name and I told her. She volunteered that her name was Marjorie. At one point she asked me if I knew how to dance. That took me back a bit. I just told her no. She wanted to know how much Visayan I knew and it didn’t take me long to show her almost nothing. She used the word “Unsa” and I had forgot what it means so I asked her. It means “What.” A good word to remember.
I finally gave into my fears and took a few pictures of the kids after they asked. Another child brought a can with a candle on it which made a nice picture. She was very shy and not like the bolder Marjorie at all.
Jessie was very worried about my going to the cemetery alone. She might have been a little angry with me but I wanted her to come and I was going. While sitting on the steps of that crypt, I could see why. There were some very seedy characters going deep into the cemetery after dark. They always spoke and were very friendly but that does not mean it would be a great idea for me to follow them in.
I finally did venture a little way into the maze of paths that criss cross though the cemetery. Paths lined with tombs. It was kind of a fun place to be on Halloween for a demented mind like mine, I suppose. 🙂 I did feel uneasy though as it would be very easy to rob me. The kids followed me in and asked if I had any money. I don’t think they were up to no good but I said no. I tried to get some pictures while a little deeper in but just couldn’t get anything to work out so I soon made a quick retreat from that area. I have been in there before but it was during the day. Even then, I got very strange looks from the Filipinos within the cemetery.
Back on the street, I soon told the kids “Bye” and headed down the street. I didn’t go far though and found another crypt to sit at and took a picture or two. I was moving pretty slow so I wouldn’t tire myself out too much. After all, it is no secret that I’m not in the best condition I could be in. I really want to be walking again but things are making it not a good idea for me. As soon as I can walk without splitting my feet open, I will be walking though.
After resting a bit, I was up and on my way home when I saw another great place to sit for a break. As I was sitting there I noticed a Filipina walking toward me. When she got closer, I could see that it was Jessie. She began to wipe the sweat off my brow and asked me if I still had my billfold that she didn’t want me to take with me. I told her everything was fine except for the kids flocking around me and that a 11 year old wanted to know if I could dance. She knows that makes me uneasy because it is not a good idea for an adult male to hang around children in the Philippines. I’m well known in town, in fact, not long ago when I was walking alone a couple of local policeman asked me “Where is your partner?” They were probably being more than friendly though. I suspect they feared their might be trouble since it is so unusual to see me alone. She and her friend had gone out before me and they had probably seen her too. A local pinoy is in pursuit of her friend and might have been with them.
I enjoyed speaking with the kids and their pictures are the main reason I decided to tell this mostly uneventful tale. Many probably don’t know about this presence of a minor law and it is important for foreigners to know. Just another day of an expat living in the Philippines. They are not always exciting and filled with new adventures but I had a good time.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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