Philippines, Manila: Halloween & Takutan sa Burgos

If you ever thought your costume for a Halloween party was horrible or crazy, then you should come to the Philippines during this time. Because you certainly did not dress up as decomposing corpses in the fridge. With a fridge of course.

In October 2016 in Makati, part of Manila where I lived, there was a Halloween parade called Takutan sa Burgos (in Tagalog it means Scaring on Burgos – a street in the red light district). And even though it’s been more than a week to Halloween, the Filipinos love to celebrate and will not let go of anything and also start much sooner.

My roommate Bernie called me when I was in Mindanao to convince me to take part in the parade. “It’s a competition; we’ll dress up and win cash!” she shouted excitedly on the phone. All in all, why not? Let’s see how much fun is in the Philippines.

Professional disguise for the Halloween parade

Bernie called a larger group of people and contacted Cleve, who was supposed to deliver our prostheses. As I heard it, I did not know if she was joking or if she was serious. She was involved in this parade!

Cleve did an excellent job with preparing the disguise for the whole group for several hours. I do not know where Bernie found a Victorian dress that suited me perfectly! I looked like a ghost in the house, so I decided that I need only makeup and a little detail like a bleeding cross on the forehead. It looked like it was cut in the skin. My eyes did the rest of the scary job in this costume!

Oh, and blood is not ketchup, it would be too red. It’s chocolate and fruit syrup. 😉

takutan sa burgos
Our lovely Adam’s Family! Good job, Cleve!

When we finally went to Burgos, there were already crowds. Hundreds of people who suddenly started to take pictures with us. And ok, I’m used to Manila as a capital of selfies, but I was a little overwhelmed by how many photos they wanted to take at once! It was hard to get to the registration place for the parade, and when we finally did and got our numbers, we were kidnapped again by a crowd of hungry selfie-zombies. I felt a little like a celebrity. 😛

Before the parade started, we waited 1,5 hours for photo shoots, and that was the moment when I did not want to be a celebrity anymore. I’ve seen so many flashes before my eyes that I saw green spots in front of me. The children ran to take a picture, some were afraid, others touched my hair and shouted that I am Maganda (beautiful). I’m glad they appreciated my beauty even though I looked like just have been murdered by someone. 😛

takutan sa burgos manila philippines halloween

Takutan sa Burgos – it’s more fun in the PH!

At the time, I also had the opportunity to look at other costumes. I was amazed at how professional they looked. And at the same time disgusted, because ‘scary’ for Filipino means ‘disgusting’. Some costumes in our culture would cause disgust if anyone came up with such a crazy idea, for example, to dress up for decomposing corpses that give birth to a dead child. And while I love black humour and I’m a very sarcastic person, some of these costumes have chilled me. Don’t you think that it’s a little bit too much?

takutan sa burgos manila halloween

Some Halloween costumes looked great, especially those with tribal themes. I do not know how much they cost, but it was evident that the costume owner came to the parade to win the first prize (as far as I remember he won 15 thousand pesos, which is about 290 USD). But most of the costumes were disgusting. The bodies covered with some pastes to look like they were decaying, with eyeballs falling out, big claws, tongue down to the waist. Yuck!

Filipinos love this kind of extremism. They are so engaged!!!

takutan sa burgos halloween manila

If you want to see more dresses or our parade in general, I invite you to watch my video:

When the show finally started, the Halloween parade came out of Burgos Street into Kayalaan and Makati Avenue, which is two mostly streets in the area. And you know what’s best? Although several hundred people were walking in the street, for the time of the parade, they didn’t close roads for traffic. The police sometimes stopped cars so that the crowd could pass, but we moved between vehicles. Sick.

Fainting White Lady

When we returned to Burgos, we waited for the results of the jury for another hour (at least). At that time, the bored crowd could watch dance performances on the stage of professional dancers and… the dwarfs whose professional choreography caused an enormous enthusiasm among the gathered.

I admit that for me this wait was a bit long. Still on my feet, in a large Victorian dress, under which I was sweating like crazy and in a crowd where I lacked air.

takutan sa burgos manila halloween

At one point I felt my legs were like cotton wool, and it made me weak, so I asked a friend who was sitting on the table next to me to give up my place. And that such a dizziness has happened to me before (lol, I do not know why sometimes it happens) I knew I should lie down and lift my legs higher than my head, but there was not much space for that. Theoretically, I could lie on the ground, but seriously, I was afraid that the crowd would step on me.

But when everything turned green before my eyes, and I couldn’t see anything, I knew that I would faint in a moment and pushed out a girl who was sitting in the chair next to the table. I took her place and threw my legs on the table. My friends gave me a sandwich and water, and they started fanning me. I felt better, and the crowd stopped taking pics of us.

We won! 😀

We were wondering if we would go back to the hostel because everyone said that I looked weak (I do not know how they saw it under my makeup), but we waited so long that I insisted on staying. Well, it turned out that me and Paul, a friend from Germany, won 1000 pesos each (about 20 USD).

takutan sa burgos


Okay, that’s not the main prize, but you know what? I had precisely 1000 pesos in my wallet, which I lost a week ago. It’s as if Manila gave me my money back, so we are still buddies. 😛

Takutan sa Burgos was the first parade in the Philippines in which I attended, but I know that this country loves to celebrate and to have fun. I will not be here for Christmas, but for the holiday of All Saints. Bernie said that staying in tents in the cemetery or celebrating at the graves of loved ones is a norm here. And that is something entirely different than ours; I’m not going to miss it! 🙂


In Makati, I stayed at the Z Hostel just off Burgos and the red light district. There are plenty of pubs, bars and shopping centres nearby. Perfect location and great hostel. Highly recommended!!!

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