Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Trick or Treat?

It was Halloween two nights ago, or at least it was in the greater United States. The Philippines generally places more emphasis on All Saints' Day the next morning, trading candy and costumes for the chance to spend a day at the cemetery to ignore the dead.

Suman, in its tightly-wrapped banana-leaf packages, can probably pass for candy at Halloween. I imagine that a couple of rolls would make for a very satisfying chunk in the bottom of any enterprising fairy's, pirate's, or superhero's bag. But then again, no kid would like the idea of something warm and sticky getting deposited in their annual stash; They'd probably bust out the toilet paper and burning dog poo once they found out.

Suman, for that matter, isn't overly sweet, and giving away an unsweetened foodstuff just seems so anaethema to the holiday. No, tossing in a vial of latik sauce won't help.

Perhaps it's just as well that suman exists in a land where people can bring it to the local cemeteries as part of their meals. The Philippines doesn't really have much leeway for cultures that overdose their kids with sugar for one night every year, anyway. We're more the type that drinks beer and plays cards at the graves of dead relatives, and darn it, we need better sustenance than mere candy.

Or maybe suman latik is, in a sense, our way of resolving both matters: It's a sweetened treat that's more likely to be eaten the next morning than it is the night before.

Here's to the strangeness of American culture, then, and the strangeness of ours.

Have a Happy Halloween, and a good All Saints' Day.

1 comment:

Marcelle said...

And after a long while, I finally got to make a suman post myself. Check it out.