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MANILA, Philippines – Former actress Rica Peralejo hit back at critics after she and her husband Joseph Bonifacio, a prominent Christian pastor, drew flak for joining a Halloween costume party along with their two children.
In a series of Instagram stories, Paeralejo said it is a “super red flag” when people “cannot respect the way you hear from God and always make it appear that you are wrong if you don’t do life like them.” She said people should look for others “who trust your own walk with God and don’t need you to follow what they want to consider your right and worthy.”
“Again, ‘yun ang tunay na Halloween (That’s the real Halloween). They are scarier than the accusations they make of me,” Peralejo said.
She said Christians who impose their beliefs against the celebration of Halloween are “playing God” and are “the real horror story.”
Separately, Peralejo told an Instagram commenter, “Let them show the world why people leave church. They have avoided Halloween but have turned away so many in the faith. Sad reality.”
Debate on Halloween
Peralejo, a content creator with 1.1 million followers on Instagram, faced a deluge of criticism after she posted an Instagram photo of her family in Halloween costumes. The post has drawn more than 11,000 likes and more than 520 comments as of posting time.
The former actress came as Super Mario, her pastor-husband as the fictional superhero Saitama, and their children as characters from the TV series Ninjago and the the online game Geometry Dash.
In a reply to an Instagram commenter, Peralejo said she would also discourage involvement in Halloween parties if it means “demonic practices and evil stuff.”
“But if by Halloween, we mean a big costume party with treats for kids, like a whole-day candy affair, then I don’t see why not,” she said.
The celebration of Halloween, which often involves dressing up as ghosts, monsters, or diabolical figures, has been a contentious issue for Protestant churches and even for the Roman Catholic Church, the predominant religion in the Philippines.
Religious leaders have cautioned against Halloween parties, which they see as a way of glorifying the devil. Catholic priest Father Nonnette Legaspi, chief exorcist of the Diocese of Novaliches, spoke about the church’s stance against Halloween parties in a Rappler Talk interview on Tuesday. (Watch the YouTube video below.)
Challenges as pastor’s wife
While illustrating the heated religious debate on Halloween, the online criticism against Peralejo also reflects her challenges as a pastor’s wife.
Peralejo, 42, is a former sexy actress who later converted and became a Christian. Her husband, Bonifacio, preaches at a church called Jesus No Other Name and was a longtime pastor at the prominent megachurch Victory Christian Fellowship.
Peralejo is vocal about her conversion story. In February 2021, she candidly spoke of the time she “really bared some parts of my body and did some really horrifying, not-so-proud-of things onscreen.” She now regrets “what I did caused other people to sin, or at least aggravated it, contributed to the defiling of who they are.”
In a May 2021 vlog, Peralejo also talked about the challenges of being a pastor’s wife.
“Any community will have a set of expectations. Sometimes they’re valid, sometimes not,” she said. “The other thing is that they expect you to be super holy.”
One of the comments she would get a lot is, “Ay ano ba ‘yan, asawa ka pa naman ng pastor (What the heck, to think you’re a pastor’s wife).”
Peralejo’s Halloween post brought many such comments to the fore.
One of her followers said in a mix of English and Filipino, “It is the Lord who will deal with you. Fleshly gain rather than spiritual gain. You’re still the same kind of old Rica.”
She responded in an Instagram story, “How do people not see who is really sinning? Speck in your own eye really is so true. Self-righteousness is blinding.”
Peralejo also wrote: “The origin is not the end – this is precisely why it’s called the origin, it is the beginning, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end. And this is the way redemption works. We may have a bad start but redemption can still happen in the end. This has happened to so many things already. God is a master of renewal and redemption.” – Rappler.com