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While August is a time to celebrate the bravery of Filipino heroes, and a countdown for Jose Mari Chan season (whenever you see girls and boys selling lanterns on the street x infinity, mumsh), our brothers and sisters from the Fil-Chi community find themselves keeping things low-key. No business ventures. No building constructions. No love life din, mga mumsh.

If you’ve ever felt a beshie with Chinese roots become cautious at this time of the year, it’s most likely because Ghost Month is here. Also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, this Taoist and Buddhist belief associates the seventh month of the lunar calendar to “hungry ghosts” or restless spirits (tayo yata ito, mga besh) roaming the Earth and causing mischief like accidents, crime, unexpected death, and business failures. This year, Ghost Month is from August 11 to September 9.

We talked to the contestants of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2018—the present-day ambassadors of the community—during the press presentation. Some said they feel like Katniss Everdeen or Peeta Mellark once August arrives as they experience one misfortune after the other. Comparing this month to the Hunger Games is accurate AF. President Snow can be the hungry ghost and any of all the worst case scenarios we can think of are possible.  

When asked about the annual Ghost Month, Male Candidate No. 10 Jason Tan can only remember all his near-death encounters. “There was one while inside a car and another in a jetski,” he shares. “Bad things just happen to me especially during the last week of August, so I try to just stay away from dangerous activities.”

Others beg to differ.

Female Candidate No. 1 Rachel Tan she and the rest of her family do not believe in Ghost Month. “We don’t do any offerings or use any protective charms,” she says. To appease the spirits, people offer food, incense, and burn “faux” money. In countries like China and Singapore, going the extra mile is never too much. Their level of extra in fending off the negativity matches yours pagdating kay frenemy. They put on comedy and opera shows, auctions, and dinners to entertain the spirits.

On why some modern Chinoys do not believe that the month brings bad luck, Female Candidate No. 6 Jann Jan turns to the Confucian principle: the Golden Rule. “As long as you keep doing good, you don’t step on others, and you just do your best in everything you do, I’m sure nothing bad will happen to you,” she explains.

As is with all cultures and traditions within or outside the country, however, the bottomline is this: respect and tolerance. “The belief in Ghost Month is a personal matter. It depends on what you grew up with or what your family practices as culture and tradition,” Rachel explains. Jann also acknowledges her parents’ belief. “Kahit hindi naman ako masyadong naniniwala, when my mom tells me to wear or bring something red with me to keep the bad luck away, I just do,” she shares.

If you ever meet our Fil-Chi folks who openly fight off the bad vibes, it’s best to be more understanding. Ika nga ni pareng Confucius (take it from Rachel and Jann, too), “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”

Catch all 28 candidates of the Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2018 at the Coronation Night in SM Mall of Asia Arena on September 2. Tickets are available at smtickets.com.

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