There’s a Squid Game being held in the Philippines!

Published October 30, 2021, 11:30 PM

by Jules Vivas

And Tim Yap, Michelline Syjuco, and Meryll Yan have signed up for it

Except for the “bagat,” a ghost haunting party at the town plaza in the municipality of Sibalom, San Jose De Buenavista, Antique, which was cancelled this year as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, Halloween in the Philippines is pretty much undeterred.

Cities in Metro Manila have found ways to make the occasion work despite health hazards. Araneta City and Taguig have their own parties both physical and online. Hotels too have pushed through with their Halloween events by maximizing the digital space and bringing the party to the homes of clients.

Apart from Christmas and New Year, Halloween is one the most anticipated holidays in the country. And perhaps, among the reasons Filipinos love the ghoulish festival is because, first and foremost, we are fun-loving people, and we have a disposition toward faith and traditions.

Filipino Halloween goes beyond a day of fun and scares, it is a week-long tradition we observe by visiting the graves of our deceased loved ones, meeting and catching up with the rest of our clan, dressing up in the most frightening or silliest of costumes, trick-or-treating, exchanging horror stories, attending spooky events, and so on.

To tell us just how meaningful Halloween is for Filipinos, here are three lifestyle personalities, dressed up as characters from the phenomenal survival drama series on Netflix, Squid Game.

Tim Yap as Player 001

TV and radio host, newspaper editor, creative director, columnist, club owner, and eventologist, Tim Yap cosplays as Player 001 an elderly man who has a terminal illness exacerbated by a brain tumor. The frail old man is one of the most loved (and/or hated) character with a big twist toward the end.

Halloween brings out the inner child in me, one that thrives on make believe—depending on your imagination, there is no limit as to who you can be. Fantasy, hyper reality, or escape, you can face it all. Even your fears, too.  

When I was a little kid, my sisters organized a Halloween spook off between us and the staff. At midnight we would meet up in the garden and scare each other. They wrapped my face with a stocking and put a gold ribbon on my head. I was a gift. While they all put on elaborate costumes made from whatever they found at home. My Yaya Poleng was an aswang with full on mananaggal wings and I totally freaked out and cried when I saw her. She told me it was just for fun and that she would never do anything to scare me. I told myself that, the next year, I would do better. So, I wouldn’t be the one who’d end up afraid or picked on.

That was my first Halloween experience and I have since become scarier and scarier every Halloween.

(Photos by MJ Suayan | Venue: The Dessert Museum and Conrad Manila | Clothes reworked from H&M)

Michelline Syjuco as The Waiter No. 29

Experimental sculptor, visual artist, and designer Michelline Syjuco dons a female version of The Waiter No. 29 mask. Police officer Hwang Jun-ho manages to infiltrate the Squid Game to look for clues on his missing brother. He pretends to be a worker of the games, and at some point got hold of a server’s disguise.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. As an artist, it’s exciting because it’s a chance to express myself and go crazy creating a costume that represents “Me” and all the alternate versions of “Me.”

As a child, we didn’t live in an area where Halloween was celebrated, but my parents always made it special by making sure everyone at home was in costume and that we could trick or treat from room to room. My Dad’s was always the scariest, with blasting music and gut-wrenching scares!

This year, my family and I decided to spend a quiet Halloween at home, watching scary movies together and celebrating with Halloween themed food that my Mom has been so very meticulously preparing.

The mask I made for myself is heavily influenced by the phenomenon the world has come to know as Squid Game. Perhaps it was the fact that the show was a play on human nature that made it so relatable to people of all walks of life, but it was the costumes (particularly the masks) and production design that really drew me in. The mask I created is my own interpretation of the waiter’s mask, but with a femme fatale twist— sleek, dark, mysterious, luring, and sexy!

Meryll Yan as The Doll

Strategist, storyteller, and professional wanderer Meryll Yan transforms herself as the killer statue in the first games of the series. Nothing in the Squid Game could be more iconic than the creepy “curator” dressed in orange and yellow standing at the end of the field.

Filipino Halloween goes beyond a day of fun and scares, it is a week-long tradition we observe by visiting the graves of our deceased loved ones, meeting and catching up with the rest of our clan, dressing up in the most frightening or silliest of costumes, trick-or-treating, exchanging horror stories, attending spooky events, and so on.

Halloween to me is freedom! And a child-like one at that, which is the best kind. I always joke that it’s the one time of the year that I’m extroverted (as normally my concept of fun is a great book or a new baking experiment). It’s fun to shrug off to-do lists and put on a character for a day or two!

I always celebrate Halloween! My husband Ramon finds it hilarious that I begin planning as early as May. Kidding aside though, Halloween is a big, city-wide occasion in Hongkong, where most of my family is from. That’s probably a big reason I love it so much. There it’s utterly normal to have the MTR full of costumed revelers headed to Lan Kwai Fong. Pre-pandemic, we would always try our best to celebrate Halloween there. Everyone becomes a friend and it’s for the young and young at heart!

This year’s costume is unlike my usual super pre-planned ones. Like most of the world, I was gripped by the Squid Game series on Netflix. It wasn’t just a fresh concept, it deconstructs a lot of notions about human nature, greed, power, and society. And of course, the Doll was just an iconic element of the series. It’s even on the poster! So that’s what I am this year. I also loved all the memes featuring her (The Doll) watching over EDSA, ensuring productivity in construction sites, and they became moments of levity during this still very challenging time.

 
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