The Philippines has celebrated “Todos Los Santos” quite differently from other parts of the world. While it is only recent when candled pumpkins, trick or treats and cute-monstrosity items adorn some houses. But behind those masked commercialism, many Filipinos still observe the traditional practice of visiting departed loved ones during All Saint’s Day. I remember our usual visits to clean up the graves of our relative and also the talks of supernatural, the regular horror segments at Magandang Gabi Bayan and even a time when Mananangal (half-bodied flying female creatures with bat wings) flew over Manila. Those were interesting times, but traveling brought me to discover places which somehow exude the feel and connection to the otherworld. Here are some places from my archive which I think would be nice places to visit during the Halloween Season.
I had the chance to visit Sagada during the Halloween and it was surreal. In the afternoon of November 1, a forest near town seems to be ablaze. Looking closer, the cemetery becomes a landscape of flames. They call this the Festival of Lights or Panag-apoy. It’s a local tradition where they burn bundles of pinewood on the graves of their beloved. These pinewoods would first be blessed at the Church. As to why they use them instead of candles, it was simply because there were no candles available before. This is a nice addition from the Hanging Coffins and Burial Caves in the area.
With the chilly weather and misty atmosphere especially as it enters the “Ber” months, Baguio has not only been popular for people seeking a cooler clime but also for the mysteries lurking behind the mist. The pine city has also been known for its numerous ghost stories. Doing a story before there about the haunted places, it is rare to find people without a ghost story to tell. Honestly the local government is trying to shed that identity, but whether there are truths to these stories, it sure adds character to the city. Perhaps one interesting destination for me was the Cemetery of Negativism which doesn’t really delve on the paranormal but the ghost within us and the negativity we have to bury. But of course it’s also nice to visit the Dominican Hill, Laperal House and Loakan Road if you’re up for some scare.
I call it our macabre version of Angkor Wat. It’s an impressive fortress island and the ruins left on this rock are truly impressive. Touring the tunnels and ruins and learning of the plight of Filipinos during the war gave a deep appreciation of this island. I guess it’s also one of those places where they highlight the ghostly apparitions here where guides would immediately tell you that those orbs in your picture are spirits and not caused by the flash in your camera. But whether you believe them or not, Corregidor Island is a very interesting and Halloween heightens the horror.
Its funny people are still wary of Siquijor believing it’s an island full of witches, Shamans and aswang. Okay, the witch and shaman part is not a joke since there are witches and shamans here but not the ones you imagine – pointy nose with mole, funny hat and flying on a broomstick. But these characters are no real threat, in fact, they add interest to this bewitching island (pardon the pun) but Siquijor is a beautiful island altogether and its haunting feel surrounds the island naturally throughout the year.
Another beautiful island with a history of a community vanquished by the forces of nature is Camiguin. The island has some interesting ruins left by the devastation. And for me one of the most interesting sites there is the Sunken Cemetery now marked by a huge cross over the sea. Staying there over sunset feels eerie. Try to snorkel and see the graves underwater along with the dancing sea weeds. Just imagine a white cold hand grabbing your foot and pulling you down. Okay enough with the horror stories. Kidding aside, the site of the sunken Cemetery has that tranquility especially when the colorful sky explodes as the sun settles on the horizon.
Am I serious? Well aside from the similar atmosphere of Baguio,Tagaytay also have an interesting cemetery. In Paradizoo, one can find a Pet Cemetery where a 5-legged pig was buried. It’s not everyday I get to see a pet cemetery so I find it interesting.
These are just some of the interesting, in my opinion, places to visit during the Halloween season. Any other destinations you think should be added here?
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.