Last Minute Christmas Shopping: Books

It’s December 23, a day before Christmas eve. Have you finished shopping for gifts? Have you asked ninong and ninang for your year-end reward for being a good girl/boy? If you haven’t yet, no worries. I can help you out.

I decided to come up with two last minute Christmas shopping specials. This is the first one and it’s for the bookworms.

I went around National Bookstore two days in a row and found some really good books that you can give or ask for as gifts. Check out what’s in my list and you might find something you like.

Harry Potter Cinematic Guide Collection by Felicity Baker – Php345

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The ultimate Harry Potter fan gift. You’ll find everything you want to know about the movie – scenes, characters, and quotes. Each character has one full book, so you’ll have fun re-acquainting yourself with Harry and the gang. You’ll love the bright and colorful photos that seem to jump out of the pages!

An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld by Cassandra Clare and Illustrated by Cassandra Jean – Php649

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This anthology is perfect for fans of the Shadowhunter novels made famous by Cassandra Clare. The book includes characters from The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices. Followers of the series will love the fact that the woman behind The Shadowhunter Tarot is the one who did the illustrations for the book.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling- Php995

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Haven’t had enough of Fantastic Beasts? Or perhaps you know somebody who still haven’t recovered from all the fun and excitement the movie gave him/her? If your answer is yes, this is the best gift to choose.It features not only dialogues but also staging directions for the film, which was released just last month.You’ll find a lot of character descriptions, as well as illustrations.Best for those who want to know more about the Fantastic Beasts characters.
The Children’s Bible – Php545
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The best way to introduce The Bible to your children. With colorful illustrations.
Little Miss and Little Master Series by BabyLit – Php479
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The classics made especially for young readers. Some of the titles available are: Pride & Prejudice, Les Miserables, Romeo & Juliet, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein. The mini-books feature numbers, the alphabet, and basic words, among others.
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The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Creatures and Beasts of Philippine Folklore
With entries by Trese author Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo, David Hontiveros, Bow Guerrero, and Mervin Malonzo.
All That Darkness Allows: 13 Tales of Horror and Dread
Thirteen stories by 13 Filipino authors. If you like scary stories, this is the book for you. The fact that it is written by local writers make the stories more relatable. Buy this for yourself or for a friend or loved one who likes reading horror stories deep into the night.
Have you chosen which book to buy? You’ll have the whole day today and tomorrow to decide which one you want. If you can’t choose just one, go and get two books! 
Happy gift-giving and merry Christmas, Kagay-anons! 

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

(This article originally came out on clix.com.ph. I wrote this last year. Some facts have been updated.)

Today is World Teachers’ Day. Of course, we thank our teachers every day – for everything that they have done and sacrificed for us. But, today, the spotlight is on them. Our teachers are on centerstage today. This is the best time to celebrate their meaning in our lives.

World Teachers’ Day

The first World Teachers’ Day celebration was on October 5, 1994. It was an event inaugurated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) to highlight the importance of education, culture, and communication in our mission to achieve peace.

World Teachers’ Day also puts the spotlight on teachers and educators all over the world; those who sacrifice their time to prioritize the education and growth of their students. On this day, all the achievements and contributions of teachers, as well as the issues and concerns that affect them; are given the attention they deserve.

October 5 is the ideal date for celebrating the value of teachers (and teaching) because it was on this day in 1966 when UNESCO and the International Labor Organization (or ILO) jointly signed the “Recommendation concerning the status of teachers”.

Today, World Teachers’ Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries.

Thank you, teachers!

I was a teacher for eight (8) years. Although teaching wasn’t my first profession (I took up Mass Communication), I have always loved interacting with children and students. When we were younger, my sister, cousins, and I would play ­teacher-teacher. I was always the teacher and they were my students. After my first year at Philippine Southfield School, there was no turning back. I was hooked.

When you are a teacher, you forget yourself. Your priority is always your students. Your weekends are free, but there will be times when you’ll spend hours upon hours checking your students’ works. Summers are also free, but there will be times when you need to volunteer for a special reading class. A teacher’s work is never done. And a teacher’s work is never confined to just the four walls of the classroom.

“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges,

over which they invite their students to cross;

then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse,

encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

-Leo Buscaglia, author of Living, Loving, and Learning

Teaching is all about building bridges and encouraging your students to come out of their hiding places and cross these bridges. Once a student successfully crosses a bridge, he becomes a new and better person. And all because of the teacher who helped him overcome his fears. He becomes responsible for creating new bridges that others can cross.

For many students, however, describing the ideal teacher is a personal thing. This is why over the weekend, I interviewed some people and asked them to share stories about their favorite teachers. I asked them three questions:

  1. Who is/are your favorite teacher/s and why?
  2. What is the ideal teacher for you?
  3. October 5 is World Teachers Day, what special message would you like to send to your teachers?

I was able to gather beautiful stories and I’m sharing them with you now.

The Ideal Teacher

“I met her when I was quite a bit older than you would expect a typical student to be – during my Pediatrics residency at Maria Reyna Hospital. What made her immediately my favorite? Despite her years of experience and high position, she never treated me as a subordinate who was too stupid or green. Instead, she would find ways to get her knowledge across in a respectful, kind and encouraging manner. None of the bullying, insulting type of teaching that goes on in other hospitals (typically in Manila) with her! It actually drove me to learn more about her field of expertise. She never stopped reading medical journals and so was always up to date on new treatments and diagnostic procedures. What I remember the most – not all kids who present with cough and fever need antibiotics. This went against how most pediatricians treated their patients. But, because of her experience and continual research, she had the courage of her convictions. Those are the qualities I intend to emulate – respect for students, a never ending desire to improve one’s self, and not to follow the herd when you know you are in the right.”

– Tp Alagadan, MD (she requested for her teacher’s name to remain anonymous)

“My 4th year HS teacher from MOGCHS. And I’m pretty sure I can speak in behalf of my class when I say this.  In a period of teenage angst and anxiety, coupled with self-doubt and the need to find one’s self, Ms. Jen Parcutillo came through. She treated us as individuals and not as a collective whole. She recognized our uniqueness and celebrated it with us. She wasn’t just the adviser. She was our friend, our mom, our comrade. She was one of the few who we felt would never give up on us. And guess what? She continues to be so.”

“The ideal teacher is someone who teaches primarily not for any gain; she is someone who truly feels happy from the prospect of helping another grow.”

 

“Seven years after our class with her officially ended and we’d still feel giddy visiting her. Photo taken: 2014.”

“My message for teachers: Teachers make a large part of who I am today. And I’d like to think I turned out pretty awesome (haha!). Keep on rocking, teachers of the world”

– Christy, blogger at CdeO.ph

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” My favorite teacher is Dr. Ingrid Gako-Racoma who was my Chemistry teacher in college. She became my favorite teacher with the way she taught chemistry, which I can only describe as practical, easy to understand, and made sense. She also encouraged us to experiment and not to scrimp on the reagents. I loved the subject so much that I ended up taking up another chemistry subject the following semester which she also taught, and two more organic chem and biochem.”

“An ideal teacher “suffers” with her students and doesn’t make her/his students suffer. He/she strives to make the subject matter interesting and peppers it with practical applications or modern day relevance so that the students can relate and see the value why the subject/topic needs to be studied. An ideal teacher cares about her students, acts like a second parent, and is concerned for the pupil’s/student’s over-all well-being. She goes beyond what she sees and tries to draw out the child’s potential so that it can be developed to the maximum.”

“The best way to pay tribute to teachers is to take up the teaching profession, too. Even if you do not plan to spend the rest of your life teaching, at least, for part of your life, try to be a teacher for a year, or two, or three and give back to the youth of today what your teacher also gave you… the time, the effort, the energy to educate us. We need to continue the virtuous cycle of dedication and service started by our teachers and pay it forward. For some who will try teaching for a year or two, they may discover that teaching is, after all, their vocation and calling and choose to stay in the profession as their life-long career. This would be the best way we repay those who have selflessly given their lives towards the education of a nation.”

-Happy Ballesteros-Raagas, former Miss Cagayan de Oro

“I could not forget Mrs Milagros Tancongco, my English Teacher way back in grade six.  She told me I will make it as a successful person someday.  She made me see my potentials without over saying her adulation.

In high school there was Mrs Trinidad Balaba, my history teacher, whose brilliance I admired.  I was not a good student in high school, she pinched me whenever I get so rowdy and noisy.  But, she told me I was bright, even brighter than the others, but I couldn’t be an honor student because I did not study hard.

In college, this was when I showed my best.I had to survive college years at MSU-IIT (Iligan). I had to go my own way because my parents did not accompany me to enroll at IIT. Thus, I enrolled myself. There, I met Prof. Merlie Dalman Villabona, my Introduction to Literature and Morphology Professor. Once, she saw me sitting on a bench with some of my dance mates, then she told me “Ay si Hobart bright unta, pero tambay-tambay lang, dili ga study.Dong, sa balay puyo para makatu-on ka ug ayo. (Hobart, you’re supposed to be a bright student, but all you do is spend time with friends, you don’t study. Come and live in my house so you can study well.)”  So, I moved to her place where there were 7 other students who rented a bed space. Whenever I did not have money for food, she let me eat; but, of course, I had to help do some chores and run some errands.

My mentor, Dr. Steven Patrick Fernandez, also became my personal friend. His brilliance inspires me and I got my theater training from him. Dr Fernandez is my perennial critic – and he knows I could make it best for theater and stagecraft. Dr Fernandez is also my Phd Dissertation adviser.

There were three women professors who also inspired me:  Dr. Luvisminda de la Cruz, Dr. Nancy Puno, and Prof. Paula Alinsangan. These three language studies and linguistics teachers did not hesitate to push me to my limits; they challenged me to become a better student and teacher. They also boosted my morale through their sincere support and honest counsels, advice, and opinions.

I have also favorite teachers who are my friends and are ‘kindred spirits’ like Loreta Fajardo, Nancy Echavez, Amado Guinto, and Nelia Balgoa. Dr. Christine Godinez Ortega, my Literary Criticism teacher, is a friend who never fails to share what she has to her students: notes, photocopies, explanation to all literary theories, and all. I got many readings from her. And, of course, I love her poems.”“An ideal teacher is selfless and grounded to accept that what he does is not for himself anymore, but for the benefit of those who would like to be prepared for the real world.  He is beyond instruction and he is more than just inspiration; he bears the truth, which makes people see and feel the realities

“An ideal teacher is selfless and grounded to accept that what he does is not for himself anymore, but for the benefit of those who would like to be prepared for the real world.  He is beyond instruction and he is more than just inspiration; he bears the truth, which makes people see and feel the realities in life may they be sweet, bitter, or harsh. An ideal teacher touches the lives of others, but never expects something in return.”“I actually would like to spend moments with them in my dream when I sleep tonight.  To some of them whom I could still contact through FB, I’ll send them an emoticon plus a one-line poetry. They have been my favorite teachers… although I also have many others. But, allow me to tell you that they pertain to me because I am also a student, a good one who really respects them.”

“I actually would like to spend moments with them in my dream when I sleep tonight.  To some of them whom I could still contact through FB, I’ll send them an emoticon plus a one-line poetry. They have been my favorite teachers… although I also have many others. But, allow me to tell you that they pertain to me because I am also a student, a good one who really respects them.”

-Hobart P. Savior, Director, Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA)

“My favorite teacher was my grade school English teacher, Angelina Yap. Miss Yap taught us Language and Reading. Every week we had to submit a book report, and we also had to learn the vocab words she posted on the bulletin board. Everyone, from Kinder up to Grade 8, was encouraged to write something for the school paper. Miss Yap also went beyond her lessons in making sure that we were alright. At the time, I was underweight, so she made sure that I finished a glass of milk every lunch break. She even assisted my mother at the last minute in sewing applique flowers in a costume for one of our school plays. When I was already in high school, I sent her a letter updating her about my life. She was quick to reply – and admonished me on the state of my handwriting! Since then, I’ve always made the effort to have copybook handwriting. Miss Yap was strict and relentless, but had endless patience with us. It is partly because of her that I developed a love of reading and writing. She passed away several years ago of breast cancer, but she lives on forever in her students. I wouldn’t be the same person now without her guidance.”

“In your opinion, what is the ideal teacher? The ideal teacher is someone who makes learning fun for her students and encourages them to think and work for themselves. They are creative and caring and most of all, fair.”

“Today is World Teachers Day. How will you pay tribute to your teachers? Say a little prayer for them and thank them for putting up with us holy terrors.”

-Grace Garcia, Pueblo de Oro

“It was during the first phase of my 3rd year in college when I started to think of shifting a different major. I became uninterested in my own course choice and I wanted to try another path, which was psychology. But, thinking of the long enrolment process, the hassle of shifting requirements and whatnots, I decided to stick with DevCom. Anyway, I was almost near the finish line.

To make the story short, it was in this phase that I met my favorite teacher, Master Froilan Gallardo. He was teaching us basic photography. It was in his class that I found myself falling back in love with my major. Every time we had our class discussion, he had so many stories to tell; of life experiences and reality checks.

I liked him, and the way he teaches. He wants his students to become independent and explore beyond the four walls of the classroom. He taught us the basics of photography, the composition of the camera, and how to take pictures. But, it was then on our own that we knew how to capture a moment. How to tell a story with just one click.”

“For me, a teacher should be like sir Froi—not only shares his knowledge about the subject matter for the sake of teaching, but also teaches the importance of it in relation to the real world.”

“Today is World Teacher’s Day, and I know any amount of gratitude would not be enough to show how grateful I am for my teachers for guiding and showing me that there is more to life. As what Henry Brooks Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”.

-Liz Echeveria, AB DevCom graduate, Xavier University

“Boots Tismo, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Education Department. She teaches with passion and finds real joy in teaching her students, inspiring them to be more than what they are. She would tell stories from own experiences and that of others incorporating the, in her lessons. Something that really works for me as I easily get bored. I was with undergrad students while taking my Prof Eductation at XU and she would always call out my name because she would think Im either bored or absent if I am ever so quiet. Taking Prof Ed, was my ‘second time’ to go back to school and for the first time, I made extra effort to make good in my studies and surprised myself, and my Mom when I got all As for a change. It was exhilarating. Deeply regretted not taking my studies seriously when I was younger. I sort of breezed through my college life. So, that was truly a fulfilling experience for me. And I have to give my teachers credit for that.

Special mention to my colleagues in the field, who I know are passionate teachers as well. You, Eper Agdamag-Silan, and Connie Cabreira of Homeschool fame.”

“Being a teacher and parent myself, I believe that teaching should be a continuing process. It is a profession that never goes out of style. Eveyrtime you help “mold” somebody into a better individual, you yourself grow into one. I also had the privilege of teaching in China and had the unique chance of teaching students from a different culture. It was truly an experience that I will always fondly think of. A challenging one, to say the very least. Gained many a friend and families.”

“I pay tribute to all my fellow teachers who have given their utmost dedication in teaching their students reach their potential. Making an extra effort so that their students find it a sheer joy to sit in the classroom for another day of learning and fun. For a teacher needs to be innovative and should learn to make the interaction in the classroom positive and ever interesting; and it takes a skilled and passionate one to do that. Thank you for giving your God-given skills and abilities to improve humanity as a whole, because it takes one student at a time to make a change. For leaving a positive note on our lives and souls. For helping us to be the persons that we are now. I thank you from my heart. May your tribe increase.”

-Lorraine Nicolas, SPED teacher

“My favorite teacher is our philosophy professor when I was a freshie in college.  Basically because she’s a really good professor in both imparting knowledge and her teaching method. She can talk the entire hour without boring you. She cites great examples that you can totally relate with the topic, and you definitely know that the grades you get are the grades you deserve.”

“In your opinion, what is the ideal teacher? Someone who can relate with his/her students without compromising respect from them. Someone who is very knowledgeable and who can present the facts and impart these facts through practical examples. Someone whom you can benchmark your character and attitude. Someone who also learns from his/her students.”

“Today is World Teachers Day. How will you pay tribute to your teachers? Aside from a shout out on Facebook, I think the best way to pay tribute to my teachers is to apply what they taught me and to also share what I learned to people around me. That way, it somehow amplifies how grateful I am as their student; for without them, I wouldn’t be molded into the person I am today.”

-Carlitos “Itos” Felesedario, Centrio Mall Marketing Office

“The BEST TEACHER would be Froilan Gallardo, and I know many of his students will agree with this. I cannot specify an exact situation where he was inspiring or heroic because Sir Froi was never one to treat himself on top. He’s imperfect, a little crazy but dead serious, strict and passionate with his chosen profession. We loved him because of the little gestures he did for us. He was many things to me. A teacher, a colleague, a father figure, and a friend. I guess what makes him my favourite teacher is because he believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

“In your opinion, what is the ideal teacher? See: Froilan Gallardo.”

“Today is World Teachers Day. How will you pay tribute to your teachers? As simple as a message of thanks that they helped me become what I am today.”

-Lenz Marie Libres

“My favorite teachers: (college) Mayette Liscano, Deedole Nacua, Neil Improgo, Tibo Acoriba. (hs) Ralph Cecilio+, Ana Maria Dela Fuente (GleeClub).”

“The best teacher inspires, builds character in each student, and never gives up on any one of them.”

“I would pay tribute to my teachers by praying for them; for their good health, and long life of prosperity, a life full of love and passion. And I pray that they may continue to inspire the people around them.”

-Shaun Alejandrae Yap Uy, DSWD Region X

“Mrs. Cora del Fierro, Mrs. Anita Q.Santos, Ms. Venus Guibone,  Ms. Chummy Chaves, Mrs. Lalot Arcadio-Rivera, Ms. Cecille Bicbic, Dr. Amor de Torres, Ms. Rowena Rodriguez Edrolin, teacher Ametta Suarez Taguchi, the late Fr. Jorge Hofilena, and my mom.”

“The ideal teacher is a loving person who believes in the potential of his students, capitalizes on the strength of each child, and instructs with enthusiasm and effectivity. Thus, the ideal teacher must continue learning more about himself, humanity, and the world we live in and teach what is right, just, and beautiful, while inspiring each child to do what is good and honorable one day at a time.”

“I would like to honor all my teachers who have taught me well by paying the love and expertise forward to the children under my care. To this day, I still tell the story and sing a particular song Mrs del Fierro told and taught us in Little Schoolhouse many years ago. Thank you, Teachers!”

-Karen Lluch, former Miss Cagayan de Oro, Thrive CDO Advocacy Group founder, and teacher

“I have a lot of favorite teachers. For literature, the late sir Ralph Cecilio. He taught me how to appreciate poetry and the arts. He was very passionate whenever he discussed EE Cummings, Shakespeare, O. Henry, Edgar Allan Poe. I wasn’t as interested in literature as I am now. Sir Ralph is one of the reasons why I’m into literature now. He gave me a list of books to read before I die. It’s over 200 books, but I’ve only managed to have half of it and have read only a quarter from the list. He’s the reason why I got into classics.

He was an XU Compstud teacher, but I met Kuya Puloy through Yahweh’s Choir. He was one of my mentors as I was growing up. He taught me the discipline of choral singing. But, more than that, he taught me that excellence is achieved through hardwork and with the help of friends and family.”

“Sadly, both of my favorite teachers aren’t here anymore. The best way I pay tribute to them is to live everyday with the lessons they’ve taught me and keep them in my heart.”

-Mai Santillan, theatre actress, co-founder of NAGMAC (Nagkahiusang Mambabalak sa Cagayan de Oro)

 

I have to share my ideal teacher stories, too.

For my part, I’d like to thank all my high school teachers for helping me come out of my shell. I was quite shy in elementary, but I slowly blossomed in high school. Special mention goes out to my speech teacher (2nd year HS) Ms. Cynthia Villaraza and my drama teacher & drama club adviser Ms. Milene Neri. They are the reasons why I developed an interest in writing, the culture, and arts.

I spent only one year at Xavier University under the AB DevComm program (which has been dissolved). We moved to Manila in 1986 and I went to two schools there: FEU and St. Joseph’s College. It was at SJC-QC where I met two professors who would be a great influence to me: Mr. Roy Iglesias and Mr. Ed Palmos. Sir Roy was our professor for almost all Mass Comm major subjects. But, my most memorable times with him were during our Radio-TV scriptwriting classes, which were held once a week only, for 4 (or 5?) hours. I remember the times when he would bring movie scripts to class and we would read and study them. To this day, I use some of his teaching techniques when doing creative writing workshops and classes. Sir Ed was my Film Theory professor and I learned a lot from him. He always had a fun way of making us learn things. I remember the week that I watched the movie Fatal Attraction almost every night because it was part of what we were studying in class. I loved sir Ed’s infectious energy and passion.

Teachers are extensions of ourselves because they dig deep into themselves to understand us and draw out the best in us. They become a part of us because they spend most of their time with us, helping us cross bridges. They become a part of us because they forget themselves and give more than 100% to us. One day of thank yous won’t be enough. Every day should be teachers’ day!

What about you? Who are your favorite teachers? What are your most special memories with them? Care to share them with us?

 

Photo credit (downloadable): http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-teachersday-2016 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Teachers%27_Day

http://www.ceasa.asn.au/associations/world-teachers-day/

 

Happy New Year!

The tail end of 2011 will always be memorable for many Kagay-anons, but for a different reason: the wrath and fury unleashed by Typhoon Sendong that killed thousands and washed away entire neighborhoods and communities. Christmas was nothing like the usual. There were still some gifts, a little merrymaking and sparkling lights and decorations; but the usual excitement was nowhere to be found. Instead, hundreds upon hundreds of Kagay-anons spent their Christmas vacation volunteering and helping out in whatever way they can.

In a way, Sendong gave birth to something that made even prouder of being a Kagay-anon. It brought out the Kagay-anons’ kind hearts. Bayanihan was reborn. Heroes were made and discovered. Christmas gained an entirely new meaning for all of us here in Cagayan de Oro.

Now, as 2011 closes its doors, I continue to hope and pray for the best, not only for mys family and for myself, but for all Kagay-anons, especially those who were at the receiving end of Sendong’s fury. I pray that 2012 will be a better one for all of us; that 2012 will bring a new beginning in every sense of the word. I pray that 2012 will be better, brighter, safer and more prosperous for all of us.

And I pray that we’ll all continue to listen and reach out to those who are still groping in the dark as they start to rebuild their lives after the horrific tragedy that befell Cagayan de Oro.

For all the wonderful memories of 2011, let us thank our God, who will always be the beginning and the end. We thank Him, too, for all the heartaches, the defeats, the pain and all the lessons learned. He has greater plans for all of us – and I believe all these wonderful plans will slowly unfold as 2012 opens its doors.

To my family, friends, fellow Kagay-anons – and to all the unsung heroes of CDO – thank you for being a part of my 2011. Let’s stay together and continue everything this 2012.

From Robert W. Service’s “The Passing of the Year”

“And so from face to face I flit, The countless eyes that stare and stare; Some are with approbation lit, And some are shadowed with despair. Some show a smile and some a frown; Some joy and hope, some pain and woe: Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down! Old weary year! it’s time to go.”


Happy new year, CDO! Bangon lang ng bangon!!!

Happy new year, World!

Hello, 2012!


Of Halloweens and Trick-or-Treats

Back when I was in grade school, we lived in Makati, just outside Bel-Air Village, where we attended Colegio de Sta. Rosa. In Bel-Air, trick-or-treat was an annual activity where the children gathered together to have fun, wear their best Halloween costumes and go from house-to-house hoping to get sweets and other goodies. I don’t know if this still happens today, but my memories are quite vivid. Anyway, back then, I didn’t know what Halloween meant, or why we went around trick-or-treating. Today, I have a different picture of what Halloween and trick-or-treating really means.

There are countless stories as to when the celebration of Halloween really started. According to a blog I read, the earliest records go far, far back to the times of the ancient Celts, who took their residence in the British Isles. At that time, October 31st was the last day of the year (they followed the pagan calendar). It was a day reserved for celebrating and remembering many things: the start of winter, the end of summer and the memory of the deceased. Celtic priests honored the god of death on the 31st and all the way up to the 1st of November. The god of death was known as Samhain, who was known to control the dead’s spirits. The last day of October was therefore known as Samhain and the Celtics would build fires to ward off evil spirits. They also dressed themselves in scary costumes in the belief that this would also scare off the bad spirits. And since the end of October was the last day of the year, games were played to welcome the new year with good luck.

The story of how the tradition of trick-or-treat started is an altogether different matter. This ages old Halloween tradition actually traces its roots to England’s All Souls’ Day parades, where soul cakes were handed out to the poor in exchange for their promise of praying for the dead relatives of the family who gave them the pastries. Eventually, the Church encouraged people to distribute these soul cakes instead of the usual practice of leaving wine and food for the visiting spirits on Halloween. The distribution of soul cakes later became known as “going a-souling” and was soon taken up by children.

Today, not many know of these stories or legends. People mostly go out into the streets and party on Halloween night “just because”. Sometimes, the real essence of the celebration is masked by the different events that are organized: masquerade balls, Halloween disco parties, concerts and other similar events. Halloween has become too commercialized; but I’m not complaining. It’s fun. It brings people together. Somehow, it also brings back many beautiful memories with deceased loved ones. And the ghost stories! Oh, ghost stories abound before, during and after Hallow’s Eve!

I guess the true meaning of the Halloween season is inside our hearts; we each have a reason for celebrating it and for believing what we believe in. And after all the fun and excitement that Halloween brings, many of us go back to what really matters most: we visit our deceased relatives and pray for their eternal repose. We remember our dead and we keep their memories alive. This brings me to the conclusion that all the fun and partying on Hallow’s Eve is actually just our way of celebrating the life of our deceased relatives and friends. Yes, I think that’s how I want Halloween to mean for me.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

(For my fellow Kagay-anons, if you don’t have plans yet for the Halloween weekend, check out my previous post to get ideas on what to do. Have fun!)