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‘Queen of Halloween’: Witches’ gathering at US ambassador’s ‘horror’ house |

Modern Living

‘Queen of Halloween’: Witches’ gathering at US ambassador’s ‘horror’ house

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -

MANILA, Philippines — The United States' Ambassador to the Philippines, Her Excellency MaryKay Carlson, hosted a pre-Halloween party last Saturday, proving that apart from maintaining good diplomatic relations between the US and the Philippines, she also has a good eye for decorating — and a sash in her home puts it best: she is the undisputed “Queen of Halloween”! 

Her goal for the party, Her Excellency told, was to keep the US’ Halloween tradition alive and to share it with Filipinos. 

True to the party’s witches’ gathering theme that asked visitors to come in all-black or witch costumes, Carlson herself welcomed and guests from the diplomatic community, wearing an all-black witch ensemble, accentuated with makeup she did herself with cobweb designs from an artist.

She shared with that it took her a long time to decorate the place with witty statues and other spooky curiosities such as antique dolls, butchered teddy bears, bejeweled skulls, ghastly pumpkins, and skeletons that seemingly tell stories in their period attire. A real Ouija board, a serial killer installation in the shower, makeshift tombstones, crime scene recreations, distorted paintings, talking decapitated heads and realistic sound effects add to the home’s haunted house vibe.

Of course, after the tricks, a Halloween party would not be complete without treats! For that, a long table was decked in candles, skulls, cobwebs and a witches’ cauldron overflowing with bars of imported US chocolate! 

Guests feasted on cookies in quirky Halloween shapes, American staple Strawberry Shortcake, as well as international fare such as sushi in boats, and some brought in by guests like Chicken Biryani, cheese bread and of course, the Filipino barbecue! Punctuating the smorgasbord were cocktails and juices served in champagne flutes topped with gummy candy fangs and dripping in fake blood.

Carlson recalled that she started decorating in 1991, when she was assigned to the US Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. At that time, she said, Halloween was not observed in Mozambique and many parts of the world outside the US.

But today, according to her, more and more people have come to appreciate US traditions like Halloween and Thanksgiving because of the Internet.

Halloween, according to the US’ Library of Congress, came from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (“SAH-win”), a welcome celebration for harvest at the end of summer. It was marked with people lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off ghosts.

Prior to the party, Her Excellency and their team from the US Embassy had a "Trick or Treat" with children from around the embassy’s vicinity in Manila.

“I just use the children as an excuse to do this every year!” she jested, sharing how much she loves to decorate for a special occasion. 

In fact, she cannot wait to dress up her home for Christmas since unlike in the United States, where houses are traditionally not spruced up until a week before Christmas, then decorations are also usually taken down the week after, she agrees that in the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated longer than in many parts of the world! — Video by Deni Bernardo, editing by Anj Andaya

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