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For a country that has been influenced by former colonizers hundreds of years ago and with the speed of globalization, some of our religious practices have been mixed with different traditions of the Westerners and even with our Asian neighbors. Take for example, our celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day where people would go trick or treating and wear creepy costumes as part of the Halloween practices.

But Colegio del Sto. Niño, in Cebu City, celebrated it in a different way this year; the students were encouraged to wear costumes of their favorite saints and angels instead of scary characters. They call it “Holy Wins” from the traditional Halloween.

According to the preschool coordinator, Mrs. Janet Bañares, she’s been thinking of this idea for several years back. It was just last year that she presented it to the School Director, Rev. Fr. Vicente Amplayo, OSA, who was also thinking of instilling positive values to the children and to correct the wrong practices of All Saints Day. According to Fr. Amplayo, dressing up like monsters is praising the demons and could be an opening to demonic attacks. Mrs. Bañares added that it is the school’s goal to refocus the kids’ belief about Halloween by giving emphasis on the lives of the saints and following their good examples.

The School Principal Mrs. Maria Estrella Pateña also said that their first Holy Wins celebration was very impressive, amusing and at the same time informative because the school printed tarps with brief information about their section’s saint. For Sir Louie Guinita, who also helped in conceptualizing the event, the activity was successful in terms of the goals that they wanted to achieve especially in promoting Augustinian saints and discouraging the children in wearing inappropriate costumes.

In a chat with Mrs. Jovita Uy, a parent of a grade 1 student, she said: “Mas nindot man gud ng ingon ana kuya kaysa kana ganing mag ungo ungo… para pud ang mga bata ba kuya makaila pod sa mga santos ug uban pa…,” which means “Holy wins” is better than Halloween so that the kids would know the saints.

What really touched me was the realization of a young boy Kiesar Salac, a grade 6 student who said: “It’s really an honor for me to be chosen as the representative of our class to portray St. Possidius. The experience is great and i am amazed and hyper until now because at last Catholic school like CSN is able to find an alternative for Halloween. I am a kid so i know the excitement kids like me feel in times like this. I usually participate Halloween parties though I dress up as super hero since I don’t want so disrespect God. Now with this idea together with my passion in cosplaying I will be portraying saints, and if I attend costume parties i will be portraying saints as well. This for me to be an instrument for the young generation to be closer to God and to remind them to be faithful to the Catholic faith. Also this is legacy of my Papa, to continue his passion as well. I just wish for him to be here with and share my happiness and to support me with my new advocacy which I just realized weeks ago. This is to dress up as saints and be a model student for kids like be to closer and for them to follow the good deeds of saints. I might be joining other activities like fun run just like my Papa and will be portraying as a saint instead of superhero.”

The children also got their rewards in forms of candies, chocolates, ice cream, and hotdogs because the school celebrated the culmination of the Rosary Month as well. They also visited the different offices within the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño wherein employees prepared some treats for them — No Tricks, Just Treats!

Because of the positive reactions from the children, parents, and school administrators, the school would consider doing it again for the next school years. Fr. Amplayo is also hoping that shopping malls and hotels would also do the same.

Photo credit: Louie Guinita

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