For a kid who secretly enjoyed being scared out of her wits and playing “dress up”, Halloween presented a whole new world full of possibilities.
Obviously, it isn’t a local tradition, but little me during the 1990s looked forward to watching Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween special and horror movie marathons, egging classmates and friends to tell ghost stories, and re-reading my Edgar Allan Poe collection. I was particularly thrilled with Fall of the House of Usher (What was the cause of Madeline’s mysterious illness? Why did Roderick feel as though his fate was entwined with that of his sister’s and their ancestral house?), The Cask of Amontillado (Fortunato being buried alive was really morbid!), and The Tell-tale Heart (the narrator/murderer and the old man with the “vulture eye” was REALLY CREEPY).
It was Halloween on my tenth year that I remember wanting to be a beautiful gypsy girl. To have smoky hypnotic eyes, dance as though in a trance, read tarot cards, and pronounce fortunes. That was around the same time I read Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and was very much fixated with Clara Trueba and her mystical prowess. Clara was also a diligent writer and keeper of notebooks which she painstakingly organized and kept bound with ribbons. In fact, she inspired me to do the same–to keep track of my life and thoughts by writing it out in journals and notebooks. From the moment I read the first line in The House of the Spirits: “Barabas came to us by sea”, I was instantly mesmerized. It was also the same year my sisters gave me an illustrated children’s classic edition of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I read before the happy ending Disney version came out). The image of Esmeralda, the gypsy girl, was so exotic and mysterious, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her character. (Spoiler alert!) I remember crying at the end when Quasimodo’s and Esmeralda’s remains were uncovered years later. Of course, they died tragically.
Back to being a gypsy girl wannabe, I had aspirations of going trick-or-treating. I raided my mom’s and sisters’ closets and found a peasant blouse, a long flowing skirt, a kitsch scarf that became a turban, bangles, and hoops. For my “bolang kristal”, my sister’s heavy angel snow globe served me well. I decided that I would go barefoot, for lack of matching footwear. But there wasn’t any costume party or trick-or-treat to go to. Still, I managed to entertain them at home with my resourceful prowess in putting up a costume from scratch.
It was only the following year when my friend Jens invited me to their village Halloween party that I was able to go all out on the trick-or-treat experience. And the best surprise of all: I won consolation prize for my costume! It wasn’t the gypsy costume, though. I was a queen in a scarlet dress robe with faux fur and gold trimmings. I had a crown of gold cloth with cheap plastic jewels stitched on it. My mom didn’t have as much imagination. She bought it ready-made from SM Department Store. For extra horrific make-up, my sister painted my eyelids with black and grey eyeshadow. Despite the costume not going my way, it didn’t stop me from having such fun! We were chaperoned by one of Jens’s older sisters while we went door-to-door around the neighborhood, expecting treats more than tricks. My plastic pumpkin pail was filled to the brim with candies and sweets of all kinds. But I also remember there was this older guy in a corpse costume we kept bumping into every now and then, which I thought was weird, and he would always mock me with a “Good evening, your Highness”, while letting me pass first with him making a bow. I just chalked it up to creepy-attentive vibes and hoped I never had to encounter him again for the rest of the night.
My friend Jens was Wednesday Adams of the night and won second prize. She did look the part with her fair skin, enormous beady eyes, and long and sleek black hair in pigtail braids. She even had a headless doll sticking out of her chest pocket! Knowing Jens back then, she was the more charming, nicer version of Wednesday Adams for sure.
I had such a lovely time being Queen of the night. And being the only one who wasn’t in a typical scary/monster Halloween costume. I took in every happy moment I could and committed them to memory. And as for my treats, well, they didn’t stand a chance against my sweet tooth. They ran out in a week or so. 🙂
Originally written: November 6, 2008