(Updated: 7 May 2017)
Folklore, legends, and myths are filled with an assortment of creatures and other fantastic beings which invoke amazement, fascination, horror, and even nightmares to those who have developed a likening to the subject matter. All over the world, tales of old are inhabited by monstrosities and supernatural beings that played with the imagination of our ancestors. Even to this day, tales of such creatures and beings are told to scare naughty children, to feed the imagination, or to simply point a moral lesson. Sadly, the modern world has taken its toll on our old heritage and many denizens of our old tales have been reduced to obscurity or entirely forgotten. What were once part of our beliefs and traditions became nothing more than tall tales or heresy.
The same could be said with the once rich bestiary of Philippine folklore and mythology. Nowadays, majority of the country’s populace are only familiar with the aswang, engkanto, kapre, manananggal, tikbalang, and tiyanak. Thanks to local horror films, such creatures continue to haunt the imagination of some Filipinos. In the previous decades, especially in the 70’s, 80s, and early 90’s scholarly research on the Philippine folklore and mythology bestiary have been published notably those of Dr. Maximo Ramos. Sad to say, however, that only a few were able to acquire them, thus, these only enriched those who are already well versed with the subject matter.
This list aims to reintroduce Philippine folklore and mythology’s myriad creatures and other beings that were obscured by centuries of colonialism and modernity. Here you will learn that aswang is but a term that refers to a variety of nocturnal monstrosities that prey on humans. You will find out that the tikbalang is not the only horse-headed entity in the Philippines.
While majority of Filipinos today think of the entries listed here are mere figments of the imagination, those who claim to have encountered them would say otherwise.
NOTE: I will update this list from time to time.
Today, East Visayans in the Philippines consider the abat as synonymous with aswang; however, in the olden days the abat or awok of Waray belief was an aswang variant related to the manananggal. At day the abat is a normal person but after sundown he or she performs a ritual in her home or a secluded area, which involves applying an ointment on the body, along with an incantation and bending over from the waist for some time. Unlike the manananggal, the abat doesn’t grow wings on its back; instead, it’s the arms and hands which transform into leathery, bat-like wings. The skin turns coal black while the teeth grow pronounced fangs. Then the body starts to separate at the waist until the upper body glides off. The abat has big, fiery eyes which almost bulge out of their sockets.
In Bicolano lore, when some aswang no longer want to hunt for human prey themselves, they move and live by the swamp or the river. There, the hayopan raise crocodiles as servants which will follow their bidding. When their craving for human flesh kicks in, they simply order these crocodiles to go kill a person and bring the corpse back to them so they may cook and eat the victim’s remains.
Waray folklore describe the aghoy as attractive-looking men and women in their early twenties although it is said they are actually small in size, no taller than a person’s knee. They have golden to blond hair, deep-set eyes of blue, green, or brown, and high bridged noses and are often barefoot. The trees serve as their gateway to the human world. They come out after dark and call on their human friends through whistles. They only enter a friend’s house if they are invited in. The aghoy are good at finding lost things and often they use this ability as a way to test people’s honesty and in order to identify people who deserve their help. When a person loses something, a silver ring for example, an aghoy will present to him a ring of much higher value, pretending that it has no idea what the missing ring looks like. If the person turns out to be honest, he will gain the aghoy’s favor and receive a fantastic reward such as a magic purse that never runs out of gold. If he turns out to be greedy and dishonest, he gets nothing and the aghoy and won’t be able to see the aghoy again. Sometimes the aghoy play pranks on their friends. When a friend is asleep, an aghoy changes his position in bed.
Some say the aghoy are actually hideous in appearance and only pretend to be good. Their true form is said to be shadowy humanoids covered in pitch-black hair. The males allegedly rape human women in their sleep.
The agta of Waray folklore is a man as black as charcoal, very tall (some say around 9 feet tall), has long kinky hair, and goes about naked. He is active after dark between 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., hanging out in big trees while smoking a tinostos (cigar), wandering alone, following people, or sneaking in houses and scaring those who see him. As a prankster, the agta topples trees on the path of travelers or steals firewood and clothes left to dry outdoors. He likes women and may abduct one once in a while. With a shower of petals, the agta lures a woman to a secluded area, captures her, and brings her to his lair where she’ll serve as his bride. Most of the abducted women either go insane or die of fright. A woman may escape the agta’s clutches by hitting his private part. This giant contends with those who attempt to acquire the mutya (pearl) of a certain variety of banana plant, which endows its possessor with supernatural abilities.
In Western Visayas, the agta is a small, dark-complexioned, and solitary being. This diminutive agta only shows itself to people it likes, especially children and beautiful women. It could also be seen by bending over and looking down backward through the opening between the legs. Being fond of women and children, the agta may pinch one in the leg sometimes, leaving a dark mark on the skin. This being helps fishermen by revealing spots in the river or sea where fish are plenty.
In Tinguian folklore, Akop is an evil spirit who brings death to someone, especially a woman, whose spouse just passed away. This spirit is said to have no body, only a head with long slimy arms and legs attached to it. Upon sensing that a man has died, Akop stalks the wake and when it gets the chance, it gives the widow a cold embrace and, thus, doom her to follow her husband to the grave. Such misfortune can only be averted if the spirit is kept away from the widow. This is done by hiding the widow behind a barricade of pillows in one corner during the three days the deceased husband’s body is kept in the house. When the wife sleeps, she must be covered with a fish net, so when Akop tries to reach for her, its long fingers will be entangled among the meshes. Another alternative is to cover the widow with a white blanket which she must wear as a bandoleer during the day until after the burial. The widow may also wear certain seeds which the spirit dislikes.
Believed by Ilocano folks as spirit doubles of people, the alalia or al-alia manifests during a person’s death as the groans of the dying, the cracking of glass, the rattling of beds, or the banging of doors. An alalia may be also present when pigs grunt, dogs howl, or chickens crow at night. This presence is said to warn the relatives to pray for the soul of the deceased or suffer misfortunes.
In other areas the alalia are known as bambanig.
The alan of Tinguian folklore and myth are as big as humans but with certain deformities. They have wings for arms, which they use to fly, and skin as tough as carabao hide, and their fingers point backward from their wrists while their toes are at the back of their feet. They spend some of their time hanging upside-down from trees deep in the forest with their clawed feet tightly holding onto a branch, waiting for a potential prey to pass below – may it be an animal or a human. Their houses are on top of trees and may look similar to human habitation. The alan scavenge discarded placenta of newborn human children, menstrual blood, or fetuses from miscarriages. From these they create human children with extraordinary abilities, which they raise as their own offspring. They store in earthen jars items such as beads, necklaces, or bracelets, which belonged to the people they killed and devoured.
Some alan reside near springs with a few living underwater.
In Tagalog lore the alasip is a person who at night becomes a creature that preys on people, killing them in their sleep to eat their liver. To turn into an alasip is called nag-aalasip and is done by an aswang.
The aggressive aled are one of the spirits most dreaded by the Gaddang people. In their normal form, the aled are invisible but can change into human or non-human forms. Sometimes they take the guise of pigs, birds, or a person.
As spirits, the aled inhabit trees, rocks, stumps, and other things in the forest. Anyone touched by the aled immediately becomes dizzy, weak, and would die within a few days if not subjected to a ritual. It’s in the nature of the aled to kill. They are known to eat human corpses.
According to Waray and Western Visayan folklore, the amalanhig or maranhig (a.k.a. amamanhig, amaranhit) is a dying aswang that won’t rest in peace after failing to pass on its powers. An amalanhig repeats the words it hears from the people it encounters. It may also tickle a person to death or suck the latter’s blood or life force. It won’t stop haunting its relatives until one of them accepts to inherit its powers.
Normal people could turn into amalanhig after death. These are usually those who have died with unfinished business or murder victims. These type of amalanhig would choose individuals to fulfill their goals before returning to the grave. The chosen individuals who succeed in their tasks are rewarded with fortune. Some amalanhig don’t harm anyone; instead, after rising from their grave they return to their families, much to the shock of their loved ones, and attempt to live normally or sit outside their house and yawn all day. Such amalanhig will only truly die if asked by their loved ones to rest in peace. Others wander aimlessly in the woods or forest.
Since amalanahig have stiff legs, it is advised that a person chased by one must climb a tree. One can also jump into a body of water since amalanhig fear water, for it turns them into a heap of maggots which are easy to destroy. The putrid stench of rotting flesh in the air indicate their presence. Amalanhig means “stiff one”.
A gang of maranhig are eager to get their clammy hands on a conquistador.
According to folklore in some areas in Visayas and Mindanao, the amamarang are ordinary-looking women by day but are, in fact, aswang whose faces become hideous at night while their hair grow longer and become as hard as wires. When an amamarang ambushes a lone person she strangles him with her hands while her hair tries to get into the victim’s ears, nose, and mouth to suffocate. The hair has a nauseating smell that could make the victim lose consciousness.
In other areas, amamarang are self-segmenters (like the manananggal) that use their wire-like hair to grab or tackle people who wander alone after dark.
The ambaboy in Sagada are pinading spirits that assume the form of pythons and inhabit trees held sacred by the natives. They could kill by constriction anyone foolish enough to desecrate their abode.
According to Negros Occidental folks, the amomonggo are large, monkey-like but tailless beasts with sharp claws. Some accounts from the olden days allege these creatures would raid villages, attack people and take away children to devour. One story tells of a white amomonggo spotted near a cave at the foot of Kanlaon Volcano. Amomonggo means “old monkey” in Hiligaynon.
Encounter with a giant amomongo.
Like the manananggal, the anananggal of Visayas and Bicol separate at the waist but they are wingless. Instead of flying, they float or levitate. When not on the hunt for people after dark, they enter a wake unseen (they can become invisible) and sniff the corpse to their satisfaction like ghouls. The anananggal are afraid of citrus fruits at night since these are believed to hamper their ability to float in the air.
The Buid Mangyan people of Mindoro say the andagaw look like persons but are invisible most of the time. These invisible beings live in houses under mountain peaks, which can only be reached through doorways or sakbawan (openings into the earth) such as springs and caves. The andagaw are very aloof and mostly avoid contact with humans. People who pass by an area believed to be part of the andagaw territory are careful not to disturb or offend the latter.
The anduduno of Bicol is an aswang that can smell if a person is terminally ill. It prowls outside or under the house of the victim and uses its very long, snake-like tongue to lick the sick person to hasten his death. Sometimes it waits outside the house of a dying person or lies flat on its belly with its long tongue dangling like a dog panting. Once the person dies, it will replace the corpse with a banana trunk. Also, when it finds a woman in labor, it lies under the house directly under her or under the bed and – like a drug addict – finds ecstasy in smelling the mixture of amniotic fluid and blood that comes out of the woman. When it gets a chance, it sucks the woman’s blood. In Camarines it is known as paraduno. The anduduno’s very long tongue is often mistaken as a separate entity called dila.
According to Gaddang belief, the angakokang is an invisible entity whose presence is detected through its dog-like whining or whimpering in the stillness of the night. Its whining can cause illness to those who hear it. If not treated through a ritual, the victim will die.
The anggitay of Visayas is a creature similar to the centaurs of Greek mythology. The upper half of the body is that of a woman while lower half from the waist down is that of a horse. Some claim she has a single horn on her forehead. She shows up when it suddenly rains on a sunny day and usually disappears upon noticing that she’s been seen. She could be lured with gold, jewels, and precious stones, for it is believed the anggitay is attracted to these. Some speculate the anggitay is the female counterpart of the tikbalang.
The angongolood or angunguluod is a creature in Bicolano folklore said to look like a gorilla and inhabits swamps and riverbanks where it attacks fishermen and boatmen. It jumps on and hugs the unsuspecting victim very tight until the hapless person is dead and is then turned into a tree. The creature is spooked away with noise created by striking the sides of a boat.
In Zambal belief, the ani-ani is a bearded giant eighteen or twenty feet tall. It can transform into a carabao, a goat, or a dog. Like the kapre it hangs out in trees and smokes a large cigar. The ani-ani is distinguished by its flat nose, thick lips, big clawed fingers, legs as thick as medium-sized tree trunks, and a smell described as goat stench. It likes to block paths in the forest.
According to folklore from Ilocos Norte, an anioaas or aniwaas (a.k.a. alingaas) is the soul of a murder victim. It departs in the form of steam before the body grows cold and stiff. Instead of moving on it lingers in the world, often haunting places where it used to frequent as a living person, and appears to its relatives as a shadow.
The natives of Luzon refer to the anito as spirits of nature and those of deceased ancestors, which they worshiped. The anito are often represented in households and sacred areas by anthropomorphic idols carved from wood, the most popular are the bulul or bul-ol rice god idols of the Igorot. The natives pray, perform rituals, and sacrifices to the anito for good harvest, good hunting, fertility, rites of passage, battles, and other undertakings. Along with the diwata, anito worship in the Philippines was almost eliminated by Spanish friars who took charge in the destruction of the idols. Despite this, worship and belief in the anito continues today with some incorporated into local festivities such as the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban, Quezon.
During ancient times in Visayas, anito originally referred to the various rituals performed for the diwata.
The annani are Ibanag elves that look like human except for their pointed ears. All of them wear colorful or white clothes, headbands made from either leaves or metal, and girdles or sash. The females generally wear a ring of flowers around their head. They eat human food, and love to smoke and chew betel nut. Their favorite is the head of a carabao served with native wine. They have a wide knowledge on healing, longevity, and other secret arts which they sometimes share with human friends. As guardians of certain places they are unable to leave their territory, otherwise they will fade away.
In Waray and Ilocano folklore, the ansisit is an old, big-bellied man the size of a three-year-old child. His head is big as well as his eyes, nose, mouth, and joints. He is often seen dozing off while seated on top of an anthill at noon. At sunset he wakes up and roams around. Fearful that his abode might be destroyed, he hates farmers tilling the land nearby. He also dislikes people sweeping the floor or yard because the scattered dust might get into his eyes. When disturbed or offended, he manifests his anger to a person through scabs, fever, chills, dark blue pinch marks on the skin, or swollen toes.
Apdel or Apadel, according to Tinguian belief, is the spirit that supposedly resides in peculiar-shaped stones called pinaing which are found under trees, along rivers or streams, or at the gate of villages. Apdel is regarded as the guardian spirit of villages, which it must protect from sickness and enemies during ceremonies or when away. Apdel may appear as a red rooster or as a white dog.
In Cagayan, the aran is a gnome-like creature with wide feet that point backward. It is as small as a child and has wrinkled skin and red hair. Although it has poor eyesight, it has superb hearing. This creature is known to court human maidens and has a knack for stealing rice. It owns gold and precious stones which it hoards in its underground lair. Maidens who fear being courted by the aran wear a necklace of garlic or crocodile teeth to discourage the creature.
Among the Gaddang people, the aran is a mist-like entity in the forest. At night it sneaks into a house and possesses a sleeping person. This person will then act as if he is losing his mind and dies later.
The Maranao people used to blame the gigantic, four legged, and tiger-like arimaonga for eclipses. Whenever there was an eclipse, people thought the arimaonga was trying to eat the sun or the moon. The name arimaonga may have been derived from the Indonesian arimao meaning, “tiger”.
The asbo of Bicol is a flightless aswang that belongs to the group of shape shifters and werebeasts called the aswang na lakad. A person by day, the asbo turns at night into a black, canine beast the slightly bigger than a carabao. In this form, it prefers sucking the blood of its victims after mauling and killing them, and devours only a bit of the flesh and innards, especially the heart and liver.
The asbo has become synonymous with aswang; with other aswang variants in the Bicol Region being referred to as asbo.
Distinct from ordinary cannibals, aswang refers to men and women who feed on the blood, flesh, and life force of people through supernatural means. Most appear as normal persons by day but at night they turn into terrifying creatures. Some don’t attack people but prefer to steal and eat corpses. Others can sever their upper bodies at the waist and leave the lower half, flying in the night sky to hunt for prey. There are those who don’t prey on people at all but use sorcery or witchcraft to harm their enemies. Most aswang possess superhuman strength, swiftness, and longevity.
It is said that the word aswang is derived from asu-asuhan or aso ang wangis which means “dog-like” as most have the ability to transform into dogs or dog-like creatures. A myth in Bicol, on the other hand, suggests that aswang takes root from the god of evil Asuan or Asuang. There is also a theory that linguistically, aswang is derived from the Moluccan keswange which is related to the suangi, a witch.
Some accounts allege that an aswang, when in its human form has rotten middle toenails. The act of an aswang turning into an animal or other creatures is called balondo or dalin in Visayas. When an aswang takes the liver of a person, the act is called kabkab. When a flying aswang roosts somewhere to observe its victims, it’s referred to as togpa. If an aswang flies into the air without wings, such act is called haway in old Visayan. Otapil refers to an aswang going to a secluded area either to perform a ritual or to prepare for its nocturnal activity.
In ancient times the aswang were also known as alok in some parts of Visayas.
ASWANG NA GALA
The aswang na gala (literally, “wandering aswang”) are energy vampires that feed off the life force or vitality of sick, weary, stressed, and dying persons. They appear as normal people – some work in hospitals to prey on the patients. But staring into their eyes reveals their true nature because it is believed everything is reflected upside-down in their eyes.
Sometimes they feed off the life force of a yet to be born child, causing miscarriage.
ASWANG NA LIPAD
Distinct from their other flying kin, the aswang na lipad (means “flying aswang”) keep their human form and don’t need wings to fly.
Before setting out, an aswang na lipad takes its clothes off and applies on its armpits a green ointment made of herbs and fat. This concoction gives the aswang the ability to fly in the night sky.
The aswang na lipad never prey on living men; instead, they only take the liver of a fresh corpse and depart swiftly. When this “commodity” is scarce, they turn on farm animals for their liver.
The mere presence of citrus fruits nearby hamper their ability to fly.
ASWANG SA KALIBONAN (aswang of the forest)
The hairy aswang sa kalibonan (a.k.a. aswang panlibonan, ungong panlibonan) or aswang sa talon of the Visayan forests is an ancient aswang with a tongue that can stretch to great lengths and a foul-smelling long hair which it uses to strangle and suffocate victims. It lives away from human habitations and resides deep in the jungle. From time to time, when it wants to taste human flesh, it lurks in the outskirts and ambushes anyone who happens to pass by. It may also show itself bent over on the forest floor to a person before attacking. It can render a person unconscious by stuffing the victim’s mouth and nose with its long, wire-like hair – the stench of which can make anyone faint. Also, it may lie in wait underwater in a river or a stream and drown the person who takes a dip near it. It keeps a flock of black chicks which it gives to people who wish to become aswang. The smell of a certain stink bug known in Hiligaynon as tsangaw is associated with the aswang sa kalibonan’s presence.
The atros are described as fair complexioned little people about three feet tall with bulging eyes, long pointed ears, red curly hair, and big bellies. According to folklore in La Union and Pangasinan, the atros come out during new moon and full moon nights as a large band (either on foot or riding horses) parading a coffin, while playing eerie music. Their arrival is preceded by the sound of their drums and other instruments from a distance. People who hear the band hide immediately because the atros are notorious for taking the souls of those they see. Even the slightest noise from within a house may attract their attention. When this happens, they stop by in front of the house and one of its occupants will fall ill or die. It is believed the atros consume the souls of their victims. If a person happens to be outdoors during the atros’ arrival with nowhere to hide, he must lie down with his belly on the ground to prevent the atros from seeing him. But the person must make sure the parading atros won’t step on his shadow or his soul will tag along and become imprisoned in the coffin. Others believe wearing hats render people invisible to the atros.
In Western Visayan folklore of the Philippines, the bagat are either aswang or other supernatural entities that scare or waylay travelers anytime they want. They take the form of monstrous animals of huge proportions or frightful apparitions like a floating coffin or candle. Some may even chase or wrestle with the terrified victim just for the fun of it. There are ways to discourage a bagat such as greeting it as if it is someone familiar or biting hard on its thumb if it wrestles the victim.
Some bagat that are aswang are often encountered walking with disheveled hair which stood on end while their faces are contorted in a terrifying sight with eyes staring wildly ahead. In ancient times, the term bagat was only applied to a dog of immense size blocking paths and chasing people.
A bagat giving someone a real shocker.
The bag-ong yanggaw are fledgling aswang. Having developed an insatiable appetite for human flesh for the first time, they are vicious but often careless which results to foiled attacks. Some may even doubt their selves, desperately clinging to their humanity, and seek to be rid of their condition. In other parts of Visayas this condition is known as takud or salab. In Antique Province it’s called langgaw (literally “vinegar”), bag-o nalanggawan or ginlanggaw. In the olden days aswang saliva was said to smell like pungent vinegar. When an aswang wanted to turn or infect someone, it would spit on a person’s food or into the mouth or ear of a sleeping individual.
A careless bag-ong yanggaw hitching a ride.
In Ifugao lore, the bakayauwan are benevolent mountain spirits that appear as hunters in the forest. They fly instead of walk and help human hunters who deserve their generosity.
According to the Visayan mythology of the Philippines, the bakunawa (also spelled baconaua) is a huge sea serpent believed to cause the eclipse by swallowing either the sun or the moon. In some tales it is described as having a mouth as wide as a lake.
In ancient times, when an eclipse occurred the natives would create noise by banging household items, drums or other things, or play soothing music, for they believed that such sounds spooked the bakunawa into regurgitating the moon or sun it swallowed. To this day, superstitious folks continue to practice creating noise during an eclipse.
It is said that the bakunawa once had a sister – a giant sea turtle that caused trouble to the inhabitants of an island. Each time the sea turtle beached on the island it brought huge waves which threatened to drown the islanders. One day the islanders killed the giant sea turtle. Enraged by its sister’s death, the bakunawa rose from the sea to swallow the moon which the islanders held so dearly. As total darkness began to envelop the islanders, they begged the gods for help and were answered by being told to make a lot of noise and play music to discourage the bakunawa. Thus, with such noise, the islanders scared the bakunawa back to the depths of the ocean.
In Tinguian myth, Balau was a bird of prey of immense size, whose lair was in the island of Baboyan. Balau had human-like intelligence and could talk. This huge bird met its end in the hands of a boy with supernatural abilities, who beheaded Balau with ease.
The balbal is a corpse-eater in Tagbanua lore. It has sharp curved nails, sharp pointed teeth, and a long proboscis-like tongue. It glides in the night sky like a flying squirrel. When it finds a house with a dying person inside, it either lands on the roof and tears it open with its nails, waits under the house if it’s elevated, or hides under the victim’s bed. It sucks the victim’s life force using its tongue until he is dead. The balbal will then steal the corpse (when it’s on the roof it uses its strong tongue to snatch the deceased). In place of the corpse the balbal leaves a banana trunk or a clump of branches or grass made to resemble the dead. In other times it raids cemeteries for newly-buried corpses, using its claws to dig the grave.
Disguised as a normal person attending a wake, a balbal can spirit away the corpse when no one is looking. When suitable corpses are rare, it preys on the fetus inside a woman’s womb.
Among the Tiruray, the balbal are known as bolbol, which spread disease in villages and eat the entrails of the dead. To ward off the balbal, the exterior of houses were decorated with uar vines which the balbal feared because they always thought the vines were snakes.
A balbal feeding.
The Tausug people believe the balbalan are manananggal-like creatures that enjoy eating the liver of corpses. The natives make a lot of noise during a wake to keep the balbalan away. Infants are also protected from the balbalan.
Dumagat negritos in the northeast coast of Luzon describe the balendik as a tree-dwelling white spirit with thin legs and a horse’s head. Negritos who have a successful hunt in the forest chop off a part of their kill and throw it up a tree as offering to the creature saying: “This is for thee.”
The balendik is possibly related to the tikbalang.
According to Tagalog farmer lore in Tayabas, Quezon the balo are forest spirits that frighten wanderers. These beings manifest as floating smoke or shadows but most of the time they are invisible and can be heard as terrifying wails and moans.
Ancient Visayans believed the banag were evil spirits that rampaged between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. when there was a moon, trampling plants, bushes, and even breaking branches and vines as they ran off to an unknown destination. It is said their rampaging even scared other encanto that some of the latter were forced to fly to the moonlight to avoid them.
The bangkilan are powerful female aswang that can turn into big black pigs. They are so powerful that they can turn a normal person into an aswang by just kissing him/her. In Cuyonon, bangkilan means “fierce boar”.
The banix or banik of Isinay lore in Nueva Vizcaya takes on several forms such as a ball, a jar, or a headless man rolling on the ground. People are advised not to look into a banix’s eyes because it causes insanity or death.
In Tinguian myth, the banog is a huge bird of prey that carry off people and animals such as deer and wild pigs. It makes its nest on top of the tallest trees in the mountains. The people and animals snatched by the banog are not directly fed to its chicks; instead they are left in the nest and will only be eaten if the chicks become hungry. Because of this, most human prey are able to escape unless the mother banog eats them immediately. Banog chicks grow fast and could learn to fly in no time.
Pangasinan’s bantay is a territorial spirit in the form of an old man that inhabits a tree on the riverbank. When a person attempts to pass by its tree, the bantay will take on the form of a large white rooster and block the path or chase away the trespasser. It may also claim other structures such as a bridge within the vicinity as part of its domain. With this, there are times it blocks travelers from passing on the bridge while cackling threateningly.
Also known as baua (also spelled bawa), the banuanhon are tall, hairy beings that inhabit the forests and mountains of Iloilo and some parts of Aklan and Capiz provinces.
The banuanhon have protruding mouths like snouts with large teeth, big nostrils, and dangling lower lips. Their heads which are almost flat on top are covered with long hair. They have thin and hairy bodies while their arms and legs are considerably long, making them agile and fast runners – able to outrun the fastest animal. They can render themselves invisible or take the form of a carabao, wild pig, large dog, or a fabulous bird. A banuanhon can easily wring a person’s neck when provoked. Some say the mere sight of these beings can make a person insane for months.
Widespread throughout Visayas and some parts of Luzon, the barangan or mambabarang are sorcerers who inflict harm through insects. They use tiny flesh-eating and parasitic, fly-like insects called barang which are kept in small containers. When a barangan wants to harm someone, he takes four or seven of these insects and exposes them to the hair or a piece of the intended victim’s clothing. After three days they are released near the target’s house. The insects attack while the victim is asleep, burrowing into his skin in hard to reach areas of the body and laying eggs there. When the eggs hatch the larvae spread under the victim’s skin while eating his flesh, making him suffer. Later, fully grown barang will emerge from open wounds. These also lay eggs in his flesh. Aside from barang, other small insects like flies will start to infest his body. The victim, if untreated, could die of infection.
Known as kirbas among Ilocano folks, the baras is a tall, dark skinned, and hideous male creature in Pangasinan fond of beautiful women. It abducts sleeping girls and brings them to its lair deep in the forest. The abducted woman is locked up like a prized possession and is forced to entertain the baras.
Not much is known about the batanguon except that they are said to be ugly and poor fairies. Some who claim to have encountered these beings describe them as girls in their early teenage years with disheveled hair, soot-covered skin, dressed in tattered rags, and go about barefoot.
According to Ilocano belief, the batibat is a huge, excessively obese woman who sits on top of sleeping men, suffocating them to death. In other cases, it enters a man’s dream and causes nightmares which results to the victim’s death. Aside from being obese, this creature has stocky, goat-like legs with hoof-like toes. A batibat lives within a tree and continues to reside there even after the tree has been cut down and used as part of a house’s frame or foundation. Some batibat are known to transfer from tree to tree and infest houses near their abode. Their attack is called bangungot by Tagalog folk.
The bato-bato in Tagalog folklore are hulking humanoids of rock and minerals, 6 to 8 feet tall, and serve as sentries of the entrance to the territory of some engkanto. The bato-bato first appear as weird rock formations but will rise and chase away any person who sets foot on the area they are tasked to guard.
In Cebuano lore, the bawo are tall, muscular men who inhabit large trees. Unlike the agta, they wear loincloths. They are sometimes seen idling away on tree branches while smoking tobacco. They play pranks on people by calling their attention, only to disappear and cause confusion.
The bayugo is some sort of invisible creature that hangs out or visits houses at night. When it does show itself it is described as a humanoid with red skin and often mistaken as a demon. The bayugo has a weird habit concerning sleeping people, especially children. It hits or knocks on the heads of children or persons who lay their heads beyond the edge of the sleeping mat or higher than those of their elders. Why the bayugo does this is never explained although some say it was probably made up by the elders to encourage proper sleeping etiquette among children.
In an Isneg folktale, Bekat was a female giant with a particular appetite for animal meat and, occasionally, human flesh. She had sharp teeth, long matted hair, and she had a strong sense of smell, especially for meat. She was a bit dim-witted, having tricked by children. Her house was a cave where she kept a small fire within to roast her prey. She met her end when she accidentally cut one of her legs at the knee with an axe in an attempt to cut down the tree where the children who tricked her took refuge.
According to the Sulod people in Panay Island, the bentohangin is a being similar to the centaurs of Greek mythology. But unlike its Greek counterparts, the bentohangin has a beast-like face with a long mane and wings which it uses to fly.
The berbalang are a tribe of ghouls in Cagayan Sulu. When fresh corpses are nowhere to be found in their locality, they send out their astral bodies to other places in search of cadavers or feed on the innards of sleeping persons. They lie down and fall into a comatose or trance-like state then their moaning and glow-eyed astral bodies fly off. Lime juice washed all over a corpse or sprinkled on a grave and a cocoa nut pearl (some sort of agimat or charm) keep the berbalang at bay.
The Apayao fear the big and amphibious berberoka (also spelled berberoca) that prowls in ponds and swamps. It lures victims, especially fishermen, by exposing a multitude of fish on the surface or in the shallows after sucking most of the water in. When a fisherman approaches to catch the fish, the berberoka releases the water back, overwhelming and knocking down the victim. The victim either drowns and then eaten or dragged down and eaten alive. Despite its fearsome reputation, the berberoka is afraid of crabs.
The binaliw (a.k.a. tigbaliw, binaylo, tigbaylo) of Western Visayan folklore is an aswang that looks like an ordinary person and targets sick people. With the ability to render itself invisible, it sneaks into the house where there is a sick person inside and spirit-away the victim, replacing him with a banana trunk made to look like him called lamat in Tagalog. Baliw or baylo means “to change”.
The Dumagat negritos of Baler, Quezon say the binangenan or binangunan is a being somewhat similar to the tikbalang but has a flaming mane and tail.
The Kapampangan vampire binangunan targets children. It can suck a child’s blood without even having physical contact with the victim. This vampire doesn’t kill its victim at once but feeds off him for several days or weeks until the victim finally succumbs to a severe condition. With the victim near death, the vampire moves on to another child to prey on.
As believed by the Kalinga and Gaddang tribes, the bingil are misshapen man-like beings with bodies riddled with pus-filled, rotting, and putrid wounds. Their large eyes reflect light and glow in the dark. Any person they touch will become ill and die in two days. The bingil will plague a village unless a sangasang (offering shrine) is put up or a blood sacrifice is held.
The binobaan or inobaan is a man-eating ogre in Ifugao folklore. It could shape-shift into a person and, using this disguise, it welcomes individuals who stray in its domain. It entices the visitor to drink its excellent native wine. When the visitor falls asleep due to intoxication, the binobaan reverts to its true form and kills the victim. There are times when the binobaan would resort to attacking people in the forest, ripping their flesh out.
This creature from Maranao myth is a golden two-headed lizard said to be a treasure from the skyworld and passed on as an heirloom. It has two heads – the second one is at the other end where the tail is supposed to be – which causes it to move in circles. This motion of the lizard is reminiscent of the Sagayan dance, therefore, it is also called Somagayan a Oray. As a magical creature, it can take on other forms such as a snake or a golden living doll about a foot tall. It can also foretell the future.
Whoever keeps the bolawan datomanong will become rich because it attracts gold. However, after a period of time, it will suddenly disappear, especially when no longer needed, for it has to return to the skyworld where it really belongs. It can be summoned back through a certain ritual.
According to ancient Bicolano lore, the bongo or bonggo were descendants of the evil god Asuang. They were black-skinned and roamed the forest or woods at night. They were hideous to look at and their eyes glowed red like fire and could shoot out flames.
The boroka or buruka of Ilocos is a beautiful witch who abducts and eats children, her favorite sustenance. She may also attack lone individuals after dark. Before setting out for her nocturnal raids, she turns into a harpy-like creature with her body transforming into that of a dog or a horse, sprouts bird-like wings, and grows sharp talons but retains her beautiful face and long, flowing hair.
In other stories, the boroka is described as a creature similar to a manananggal except that instead of bat-like wings, she has the wings of a bird or an eagle. Her face remains beautiful despite her terrifying form. The flapping of her wings produces gusts of wind while she lets out a horrifying shriek as she flies. She swoops down persons who are still outdoors after sundown and carries them off to be devoured.
The boroka’s name is a corruption of the word “bruja” which means “witch” in Spanish.
The bruka of Iluko folklore is a vampire-like spirit or witch. She could possess people and make them suffer until they die or she could take the form of a red-skinned woman dressed in red and kill sleeping individuals, including infants to feed on their blood and innards, especially the liver. Her name is a corruption of the Spanish word bruja, meaning “witch”, and suggests that the belief is not native in Ilocos but was brought by the Spanish. It’s also possible her name was derived from the Aragonese and Portuguese bruxa, a blood-sucking witch.
An aggressive kind of aswang, the buubuu deceives people of its presence by imitating the sound of a hen laying eggs. The clueless victim is ambushed and overpowered. Before taking the hapless person to its home, the bubuu creates an exact likeness of its victim from a banana trunk or other plant materials and sends it to the victim’s home. Upon arriving home, the victim’s double gets sick. The real victim, on the other hand, is kept alive but restrained in the bubuu’s house. When the double finally dies, the bubuu butchers the victim.
According to Tiruray belief, the bulalu talun is an evil spirit that lurks in the forest and feeds on human flesh.
According to folklore from Bataan, the bungisngis is a one-eyed giant man with large teeth and two tusks which protrude from the sides of its mouth, making it appear as if it’s always grinning. His name is derived from the word ngisi which means “to grin”. He is said to have a protruding upper lip so large that he uses it to cover the top of his head like a hat. He has superb hearing. His thighs are extremely long that when he squats the knees are two spans higher than his shoulders. He dwells in the forest and carries a club when searching for prey. He has a voracious appetite for anything palatable from animals and humans to cooked food. Being a giant, the bungisngis possesses incredible strength. In one tale, he displays this strength by lifting a carabao by its horns and throwing it knee-deep into the ground. Despite his hulking size and terrifying look, the bungisngis is a bit of a dimwit. His counterpart in Northern Davao is known as mahentoy while his kin in Tayabas, Quezon was known as bulislis in the olden days.
As believed by ancient folks of Southern Iloilo, a bunog is a horse-like sea phantom with an ethereal glow emanating from its snow-white form. This sea mare is usually seen running on the surface of the water during heavy rains or when there’s a storm. A bunog may attack and destroy the boat of those who disturb it.
The buringcantada (also spelled, buring cantada, buringkantada) are hairy, one-eyed giant men and women in Bicolano myth. It is said they have a pair of tusk-like upper fangs. Their main food are animals and some plants or fruits but there are times when they would eat persons who have strayed in their territory, for it is said they are hostile towards humans. Despite their seemingly savage traits, the buringcantada live in big many-roomed houses hidden in the dense forests. Some use magic to hide their houses in plain sight. These houses hold riches and are decorated with vines that sport brightly-colored flowers. There are times when a buringcantada would host a feast in its home in the evening, which is attended by other monsters. The buringcantada also have lesser creatures as servants. The buringcantada, however, are easy to dupe and dumb enough to believe that a strip of rope is a strand of hair from a much bigger monster.
The burulakaw, according to old folks in central Panay, are women barely three feet tall with long flaming hair. When they fly they appear like meteorites. They fly and travel horizontally in a sloping manner starting from a point of origin, usually a stream or a shallow well and disappear upon reaching their destination. It is believed they are messengers of some diwata.
According to the Sulod tribe in Panay Island, the busalian are mighty priests or shamans who can command the elements, produce water from a rock by merely thrusting a spear into it, fly with the wind, and possess other supernatural abilities.
The buso of Bagobo myth are various malevolent man-eating beings that were once friendly and helpful to humans. They live as a tribe surrounded by fruit-bearing plants like papaya. They barter these fruits in exchange for human children to eat. When no one is willing to barter, they raid human habitations, slaughtering with iron axes and machetes. They pile the bones of their victims under their dwellings. Having matulus or magical powers, they could run faster than a man and some can fly without wings. Their blood, when sprinkled on a plant, can make it grow faster and abundant.
Among the Mandaya, these beings are known as tuglinsau, tagbusau, or mandangum while the Manobo call them busaw. Tagbusau can possess warriors and fill them with rage and a desire to kill. In order to calm down the possessed warriors, cold water is dashed on them.
Some buso, as believed by the T’boli tribe, assume a shadow-like form of varying sizes and have a taste for human corpses, which they consider a delicacy. Unseen, these corpse-eaters hang out in groups in the trees in graveyards where an internment is being held. When the grave is finally left alone, they descend on it and dig out the corpse, which they eat, leaving nothing but bones. When fresh corpses are rare, they dig out old corpses and feed on the carrion. Strong-smelling herbs or vinegar rubbed on a corpse keeps these corpse-eaters at bay. It is believed only dogs can see and smell the corpse-eating buso; therefore, one method in order for a person to see the being’s true form is to dampen his eyes with dog tears.
The buyagan of Eastern Visayas are believed to have been born at sunrise. Possessing an ability called “evil tongue”, their mere remarks to a person spells doom. For example, when a buyagan praises a woman’s good looks she will be stricken with skin diseases like warts, acne, or scabies.
The buyagan in ancient times had the ability to blight fields, making them barren or dry.
According to local lore in some parts of Zambales, the camana is a malign spirit that inhabits gloomy places. It assumes the form of small animals or becomes invisible. A person who encounters a camana must offer it food or other gifts, otherwise he will become sick. Those made ill by a camana can be cured through a mag-anito ritual.
The Gaddang tribe fear the carangat or caranget the most. These spirits are often invisible but when seen they are said to dominutive in size and long, pointed teeth, and hideous looks. They can turn into other forms and are very aggressive without provocation. The natives regard them as the true owners of the land and may do as they please with the tenants (the people). They inhabit trees, especially the balete and samalagad, riverbed boulders, wells, and underground in house yards or in the fields. Those that reside in the ground are called cutu sa zubag (lice of the ground) or kutong lupa in Tagalog.
The carangat always demand sacrifice or offering as a form of rental payment when people erect a new house or make a clearing. They make those who failed or were late to make offerings sick.
Anyone the carangat touch becomes sick, insane, and would die if not treated with a ritual. Some carangat are known to eat human corpses.
The Ifugao call these spirits calanget, while the Ibanag call them carango.
As believed by the ancient tribes in central Panay, the dalagangan were persons who had extraordinary strength despite having light bodies. This lightness accounts for their agility, ability to jump tremendous heights, and leap great distances.
The dalaketnon are Waray engkanto that appear as tall, handsome and beautiful mestizos with some having blond hair and blue eyes. They look like ordinary humans but wear fashionable clothes while some ride the latest model of automobiles. It is said their good looks are a disguise and that their hair are actually white, their skin gray, and their eyes are all white. Their hidden abode can only be reached through a portal in the dalaket tree. They are notorious human abductors. They lure a person to their abode where they hold a feast for the visitor, enticing him to eat their black rice. The black rice is bewitched and any human who tastes it either turns into a dalaketnon or becomes a slave to serve and entertain the dalaketnon and could only be set free depending on the masters’ whim. The dalaketnon can manifest tangible illusions of themselves which they use to confuse or disorient people.
The Sulod tribe in Panay believe the dalongdongan are individuals who can’t be harmed physically after applying an oil with magical properties called dalongdong all over their bodies. Any bladed weapon, blunt weapons, and even bullets just bounce off their skin. Some dalongdongan who are adept in sorcery, would bury some strange roots or other things under the house of an enemy. Whoever steps on these either becomes insane or gets sick and dies later.
The dambuhala are the equivalent of the Japanese kaiju. It is the term given to beings and beasts of immense size and stature ranging from twice taller than a man to something bigger than an island. Later, the Spanish called them gigantes or giants, which became the local higante.
According to Isneg legend, the danag was once a benevolent spirit that used to live peacefully with humans and taught them how to plant the taro root crop. One day, during harvest a maiden accidentally cut her finger. The maiden sucked on the wound to prevent infection. This got the danag curious and volunteered to do it. While sucking on the wound the danag found the blood sweet and in no time drained the maiden until she died. From then on the danag was shunned and feared by the people for turning into a blood-thirsty being.
DANGGA or AGITOT
The dangga is a vampire-like aswang found in folklore from Panit-an, Capiz. This being is described as a very attractive and flamboyant man who roams at night in search of women. When he finds one, he seduces her, only to violate her and suck her blood on the spot. It is said a dangga is easily distracted by freshly drawn seminal fluid thrown at him. He will halt the assault on the woman and, instead, take his time lapping up the fluid, giving the victim ample time to escape.
Curiously, dangga in old Hiligaynon means “to seek love” or “to seek affection,” while agitot means “flamboyant man” or “gay man”.
According to folklore in Samar and Leyte, the danggab is a person who roams after dark, searching for individuals to kill in order to eat their flesh and innards (basically an aswang and possibly related to the dangga of Capiz).
In Bicolano myth, the daruanak is a gigantic and hairy, turtle-like sea monster. Once it lived on land but because of its gradual growth to immense proportions it took to the sea in order to move freely.
The dayamdam are tiny insect-like humanoids that reside in the forest. One has to first ask for their permission before picking fruits or cutting down trees in an area believed to be part of their domain.
The digkusanon in Samar are diwata that inhabit the air. They are known as envious, easily offended, and can cause inexplicable illness or loss of senses to a person. To appease the digkusanon, a ritual called pagmayaw is performed around a table laden with food, which serves as an altar of offering.
The digkusanon are said to have an enchanted city in Samar popularly known as the hidden city of Biringan or Araw City.
The diwata are nature spirits revered by the ancients as gods and guardians of nature. They usually serve as guardians of certain places. As mostly benevolent beings, they help deserving mortals who are in need. People who exploit the places under their care are severely punished, often turned into rocks, trees, or animals. Some of these diwata become attracted to humans and lure them through their good looks and hypnotic singing into their abode. The most popular diwata is Maria Makiling, the guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna. Diwata is derived from the Sanskrit deva meaning, “heavenly” or “divine”, which indicates that the belief was of Hindu influence.
A diwata watching over a dying warrior.
According to a folklore in Antique Province, the dumaday-o ( means “visitors” or “strangers”) are human-looking beings that come from the sea. They bring with them illness and pestilence as they set foot on the beach. They are also known as lawodnon (of the sea) and puro-anon.
The duwende (also spelled, duende or dwende) are magical little people that live near human habitations or in the woods or forests. They tend to be capricious, sometimes acting benevolently toward humans and sometimes acting cruelly. They have large heads. Most have beards and wear red clothes and dried squash fruit for a hat. Some only have one eye and have big noses. Duwende vary in size with some barely bigger than a human hand. They live underground and come out at noon or after sunset. Like human societies, they too live in communities and have a leader – a king and even a queen. Those who belong to the upper class wear colorful clothes. They multiply by creating another duwende from soil.
Black duwende look different. They have greasy, coal-black skin, bloodshot eyes, and a pair of small horns. The texture of their skin is similar to that of frogs. They wear nothing but leaves to cover their private parts. They hiss at humans who can see them.
Sometimes a duwende becomes attracted to a human and gives him/her gifts such as fruits and even accessories made of gold. A nasty duwende could be turned to stone by a very skilled herbolario (witch doctor).
In Western Visayas they are known as kama-kama or camacaon (karay-a term).
The ekek or ek-ek are persons who grow bird-like wings, beaks, and sharp talons at night. They fly off in search of persons to snatch and eat, or pregnant women to feed on the unborn child.
Engkanto (derived from the Spanish encanto) is a blanket term for the elf-like or fairy-like beings including the wee folk of Philippine folklore and myth. Originally, though, the term only referred to the beings that attracted humans through the enchantment of their melodious singing, luring the humans into their hidden abode, thus, they were called engkanto (means, “one who enchants” or “enchanter”). A female engkanto is called an engkantada (sometimes shortened to ada) while the male is called an engkantado. It is generally believed that engkanto abhor salt, the mere mention of it offends them.
The engkanto could be benevolent or malevolent, or both. Through lavish parties and valuable gifts, some engkanto, especially the malevolent ones, entice human visitors to stay with them forever (think of Circe in Greek mythology). If a human tastes their food or drinks, he becomes bewitched to stay with them forever. An hour of stay in their abode is equivalent to a few days, weeks, months, years, or just a few minutes in the human world depending on the engkanto’s plain. Individuals who are eventually allowed to return home look exactly the same or have never aged the day they disappeared despite decades of being missing. Good engkanto, on the other hand, only want to play and want to be in the company of those they like or give human friends gifts without any negative consequences.
The Tiruray people believe the fagad is some sort of spirit that eats the dead. To protect the body of a newly-deceased during a wake, a mirror is placed on top of the corpse’s head to reflect his face, making him appear to have two heads or two faces which is believed to spook the fagad. When the fagad tries to get near the corpse, it will notice that the dead has “two faces,” scaring it away.
The fieu awas of the B’laan are forest diwata often encountered as a group of dancing women.
Some stories say they are all dressed in flowing white robes, have long silky hair that reached the ground, and don’t have faces (others say they do have faces and are very beautiful). They don’t say any words but just keep on dancing (usually around the person who encounters them) while a soft, ethereal glow envelops the surroundings.
The B’laan of Davao del Sur have a folk dance called Maral Fieu Awas which means “dance of the beautiful nymphs” performed by girls as entertainment during festivals and rituals.
In other tribes, the fieu awas are known as kahoynon.
The gabunan are the most experienced, strongest, and most cunning aswang. They usually don’t shape-shift into animals and remain strong and powerful during the day. They can attack a person even before sunset, pouncing on the victim, strangling him or breaking his neck. Most gabunan are so swift you won’t see them coming. They fly without wings. They can steal a baby unnoticed, replacing it with a piglet or large fish made to look like the infant.
Some gabunan have the ability to make an illusion of themselves out of their patadyong (traditional loose skirt) which they will throw in front of a victim. The disguised patadyong tackles the victim while the real gabunan observes the spectacle. The victim has no idea that the supposed gabunan he is wrestling for dear life with is just a patadyong which keeps on slipping and gliding off his hands every time he tries to get a hold of it. When the victim is finally weak, exhausted, or incapacitated, the real gabunan unceremoniously carries him off to be butchered.
The oldest of the gabunan have coal-black skin, bloodshot eyes, protruding fangs, and long, white disheveled hair when in their true form. Despite their viciousness, the gabunan only eat human flesh once or twice a year.
The gaeok of Aklan is a diminutive goblin-like creature that can take the form of an animal. It calls people’s names and whoever answers will die.
The gaki is a gigantic crab believed by the Igorot to cause earthquakes. The god Lumawig once ordered the gaki to plug the world’s water hole to flood the lands, which killed the antediluvian people.
The Ifugao tribe dread the gatui because it feasts on the souls of people, especially those of yet to be born children, causing miscarriage among expectant women.
The gatui is said to be like a harpy or a self-segmenter like the manananggal. Others describe it as a winged dog with a human face.
Gawigawen of Tinguian myth is a six-headed giant who rules an enchanted land called Adasen. He owns orange trees, the fruit of which are too dangerous to take because the branches of the tree are as sharp as knives. Gawigawen’s head-axe is the size of half the sky. The gate and walls of his village are decorated with the heads of slain enemies while the hair of defeated warriors adorn the roof of his house. Gawigawen was defeated and beheaded by a boy, the son of a warrior he beheaded and skinned for taking two of his oranges.
In another story, Gawigawen is a handsome chieftain who possesses magic and has eighteen concubines comprised of young women.
Giambolan was a ten-headed giant in Tinguian myth. He had a huge shield and was armed with a head-axe and a spear. A giant boar’s tusk adorned his armlet. The giant was speared through and through then beheaded by a head-hunting warrior who possessed supernatural abilities.
In Isneg folktale, Gisurab was a ferocious giant man with a taste for both animals and humans. He lived in a cave in the forest with his wife. Traps were scattered in the forest surrounding his cave to ensnare both animals and humans. He knew if a human was around because of his keen sense of smell. However, Gisurab was easy to fool which led to his demise.
The early Waray people called the diwata that inhabit the forests guban-on. To the natives, the guban-on owned everything in the forest lands and should not be desecrated to avoid the guban-on’s wrath.
In Karay-a folklore of Iloilo, gumon is an aswang related to the kubot and the manlalayog. It is described as a crawling, mass of hair stalking the woods or desolate places after dark. Within the tangle of hair is said to be a woman seeking human prey. It ensnares and wraps a person completely, strangling and suffocating the victim with its nauseating musk and by stuffing his orifices while sucking the blood and life force. When the gumon is done, it leaves a crushed and emaciated corpse. One way to defend one’s self against this creature is to set it on fire before it could attack. Gumon in Hiligaynon means “tangle”.
The harimodon of Bicol are aswang that can shape-shift into wild boars. Their saliva is so potent that any human who makes contact with it becomes one of them.
The higanteng bitin was a snake so huge and so old it could barely move and could no longer crawl. Instead it laid still on the forest floor until grass and moss grew on it. It was often mistaken for a log.
As the story goes, one day a man roaming the forest got tired and rested on top of a log which was overgrown with grass and moss. Suddenly he noticed that the log was moving. Curious, he walked on the top of the log, searching for its end. Upon reaching it, he was shocked to see the huge head of a snake. The log turned out to be a giant snake which cannot crawl anymore because of its size.
In Iloilo, a himagan is a person with the ability to cure an illness just by touching the patient. Others use their saliva to heal maladies.
In Tinguian belief, the huanangan is a spirit that roams at night on horseback and kills the children it encounters.
The hubot of Western Visayas are self-segmenting aswang related to the manananggal. Eyewitness accounts describe them as appearing like flying umbrellas from afar. This rather curious description is due to the hubots’ bat-like wings which are somewhat concave in shape and wide enough to cover their whole body. Their skin is pitch-black. These creatures are notorious for swooping down and snatching people who are still outdoors after dark. They are allegedly afraid of thorny branches, fearing that the thorns might tear the membranes of their wings. They don’t attack their neighbors; instead, they look for prospective victims in other villages or towns.
In some Karay-a tales the hubot are described as pitch-black, shadowy forms or a hovering clump of black mist that engulfs night travelers before carrying them in the air to be devoured somewhere.
The hukloban was a sorcerer much feared by the ancients in the Tagalog region (including in Bicol and Catanduanes) because of his/her ability to kill any animal or anyone by simply pointing a finger at them and without the aid of potions. A hukloban could destroy a house by merely saying so.
According to a lore in Bulacan, the hukloban was a wise old hermit, hundreds of years old like the biblical Methuselah, who possessed magic and was consulted for advice (reminds me of Tata Lino from the comedy show Bubblegang).
Today, persons of very old age are called matandang hukloban which has become synonymous with the derogatory “old hag” or “crone”.
How the once respected hukloban became a thing of evil is probably due to machinations by Spanish Catholic missionaries.
The ibingan is a huge and venomous red serpent with a prominent crest on its head, has many horns, and has a dorsal fin. In Bicolano myth, it guards a cave occupied by water spirits and sea maids. It lies in wait at the mouth of the cave and crushes intruders with its powerful tail.
The ibwa or ebwa is a corpse-eating spirit in Tinguian belief, described as human in shape. Upon learning that a person has passed away, the ibwa will go to the house of the newly-deceased and attempt to take the corpse. In some cases the ibwa may stalk the house of a dying person, ready to barge in and steal the body after the victim expires. The ibwa is driven away from wakes with weapons made of iron since it fears iron. Also, as it is believed that the ibwa might get jealous with the garments worn by the corpse and, thus, steal them along with the body, it is advised to burn holes on the said garments in order to discourage the spirit. To protect a newly-buried corpse from the ibwa, an iron plough-point or anything made of iron is placed over the grave. As an added measure, a fire is kept burning at the grave for nine nights.
The ibwa used to be harmless and was invited to wakes. In ancient times, the corpse of a newly-deceased is kept in the house for seven days. The body is propped up on a bamboo seat and below this are dishes which collect the fatty fluids that fall from the decomposing body. The accumulated fluid is placed in the grave during burial. It so happened that during such a wake, a mourner mistook a dish of the corpse’s fluid for a drink and handed it to the ibwa who relished the fluid. Since then the spirit acquired a taste for the fluids of corpses and, eventually, an appetite for the flesh of the dead.
The ikki or iqui (also spelled ike) is an ordinary person by day but at night transforms into a winged manananggal-like creature. Unlike the manananggal that separates from the lower half of its body at the waist, the ikki separates at the knees, leaving its lower legs and feet when it flies off. In Quezon province, the ikki raid homes, feeding on the sleeping residents or attacking travelers, slashing their bodies open and taking home the heart and the liver. While in flight they often let out a frightful shriek which sounds like “krrrr krrrr.” Some say the ikki are exclusively male.
The ikugan of Manobo folklore are hairy ape-like men with large, long tails which they use to hang from trees, lying in wait for prey below, which they snatch with their hairy arms. These fierce beasts are said to abduct women and children who stray in their territory.
The Maranao people believe every person has a companion spirit in the form of a bird called inikaduwa. An inikaduwa may help or harm its human partner depending on whether the person is good or bad. When someone wishes to ask for the aid of his inikaduwa, especially when he wants to be cured from a mysterious illness, he can communicate with it through a pendarpaan, a shaman, who will serve as medium for the inikaduwa to possess.
The inlablabbuot is a humanoid monster in Pampanga much larger than a man. It has long hair, ape-like teeth, long claws, and thick tough skin. Its home is in the mountains and there it makes iron tools. It lures a person into the forest by taking on the appearance of the victim’s relative, friend, or acquaintance. When it finds the chance it mauls the victim and devours him.
Inongok is a man-like creature in Bicolano myth. Its complexion is completely black with shabby hair covering its body while the hair on its head is long and shaggy. From its dark eyes, tears of fire would roll down and form a pool of glittering red upon falling on the ground. Known as a harmless prankster, the inongok suddenly appears in isolated byways during the darkest night to frighten those who wander in the night.
The intumbangol were a pair of gigantic serpents revered by the ancient Bukidnon. These serpents were believed to support the earth from the underworld and were regarded as responsible for earthquakes. One was male, the other was female. Their bodies formed a cross, their mouths below the water at the point where the earth and sky met. Their movements now and then shook the world. Their breathing produced winds while their panting caused violent storms. The intumbangol did not fall down to the underworld because they were held up by the great god Magbabaya. These snakes represent the chaos, unruliness and purposelessness of life. They are associated with the deity Tumpaa Nanapiyaw.
The Isinay folk of Nueva Vizcaya say the itirong are men with long tails. These creatures attack people in the forest and eat them.
The Manobo people of Agusan call them tidung.
KABAYO DE BENTO
According to Waray folklore, the kabayo de bento is a winged horse like Pegasus of Greek mythology.
In other parts of Visayas it is called kabayong bento and pakpakan kabayo in Inabaknon.
In Tinguian folklore, Kadongayan is an evil spirit who takes pleasure in mutilating corpses in wakes. He visits wakes and slits the mouth of the corpses from ear to ear, giving them a Glasgow smile. To avoid such harassment from the spirit, the family of a newly-deceased would nail to the door of the house a live chicken with its mouth split down to its throat. Another alternative is to kill a chicken, burn it in the fire, and then fasten its body beside the door. When Kadongayan approaches the house of the dead, he will notice the suffering of the chicken and, fearing he might suffer the same fate, leaves and never comes back.
The kagkag are humanoid corpse-eaters in Romblon. They live in the woods far away from villages. After dark, they come out of their hiding place and disperse to seek fresh corpses. Most listen for the groans of the dying or the wails of the dead’s relatives as well as the sounds of other corpse-eating creatures so they may avoid competing with the latter. Some crouch down with their ears to the ground to listen for prospective quarry. Others visit cemeteries for newly-buried corpses. When some kagkag succeed in acquiring a fresh corpse, they bring it to a secluded place or somewhere in the cemetery where it was found and call for the rest of the gang to converge. Placing the corpse on a banana leaf, they celebrate in a festive manner (some whoop and dance while others beat bones and skulls like drums), after which they feast on their quarry until nothing but bones are left of it.
The ancient peasants in Tayabas, Quezon believed the kakap was a thin shadow-like being in the shape of a person. It was somewhat tangible but difficult to grasp as it was slippery.
Although generally referred to as the spirit or ghost of the dead, the kalag (sometimes spelled calag) in Sugbuhanon and Waray folklore is the name given to certain spirits that feed on human corpses and are used as accomplices by the mang-aawog sorcerers. A kalag makes sure the mang-aawog’s spell takes effect. After a victim of the the mang-aawog dies, the kalag visits the former’s wake and makes his bloated belly burst with a single touch.
In Tagalog folklore the kalagyo are playful little spirits that love to play with newborns or babies, especially those that haven’t been baptized yet. It is believed the kalagyo are responsible when a baby laughs or cries during sleep or giggles alone as if being entertained by an unseen playmate, much to the astonishment of the parents and other members of the family. When a baby suddenly disappears from the crib or beside the parents during sleep, only to be found unharmed under the bed or in another part of the house, it is said the kalagyo must have played with the baby.
In older beliefs, kalagyo is the spirit double or soul of a baby. In some parts of Laguna, when an infant gets frightened or acts strange it is believed that the soul may have left the body. The mother or the babysitter must call the child’s soul back by saying, “Uli, uli, kalagyo, (child’s name), magbalik ka sa bahay.” (Come back, come back, soul of [child’s name], return home). When the infant acts normal again, it is assumed the soul has returned to the child’s body.
The Sambal people believe the kamanan-daplak are tiny people that inhabit trees or bamboo groves along rivers and streams. Playful in nature, the kamanan-daplak call out people’s names after sundown and would laugh at the confused individuals who tried in vain to find out who called them. They are known to leave flowers at the side of unattended sleeping infants. They may also reveal themselves after dark as a group of kids singing, laughing, and playing from a distance only to disappear upon closer inspection, scaring the wits out of those who saw them. Their presence is detected through the fragrant smell of the ylang-ylang flower.
A kantanod is an aswang that appears and acts like an ordinary person but when it sees a pregnant woman, it follows her at home where it would sit hidden outside or sneak inside the house unnoticed, hiding in the shadows by turning into a pitch-black form and sniff the scent of the unborn child. When it leaves, the baby inside the victim’s womb is also gone which results to severe pain and bleeding with the mother. It is assumed the kantanod is not actually present in the vicinity but employs its astral body to spirit away the fetus.
A kantanod on the prowl.
According to some stories in Visayas, a kantasma is a tall dark man who scares the hell out of people by stretching his arms, fingers, legs, and torso to abnormal proportions and opening his mouth so wide while letting out a nerve-wracking shriek.
The kapapuan are the roaming spirits of deceased ancestors in Panay Island.
The kaperosa of Visayas are female spirits or ghosts often seen wearing flowing, white dress, gowns, or robes. Their long black hair cover their faces. Some may be seen without heads or with rotting flesh while others have no facial features. Popularly known as “white lady” in the Philippines, the most famous is the white lady of Balete Drive. It is assumed the white lady is either the ghost of a murdered woman or an engkanto visiting the human world.
A white lady in contemplation.
In Tagalog folklore, a kapre or cafre is a very tall, hairy man with pitch-black skin. He lives in huge trees and smokes tobacco that never burn out. He can take on various shapes and disappears at will. Although regarded as an evil entity which plays harmful pranks, terrifies night wanderers, and abducts or rapes women, the kapre can be friendly towards humans, especially those with mental disability. It is said the kapre hates salt.
The kapre’s name is probably derived from the tall, black African slaves brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines. These dark-skinned slaves were referred to as cafre by the Spaniards, a term derived from the Muslim kafir meaning, “heathen”.
In Maranao mythology, the karibang are dwarf-like beings with long hair and are somewhat obese. They are said to live underground and when on the surface, they are mostly invisible. Like the duwende, they also possess magical abilities and can be either benevolent or malevolent depending on their mood.
In Ilocos, the karkarison is a night apparition comprised of a cart or kalesa being pulled by a headless horse or carabao. Sometimes the cart also has headless passengers and a headless coach. It is believed the karkarison brings death to the persons it passes by out in the open, pulling their souls along for a ride.
In Ilocano folk belief, a karkarma is the spirits or essence of a person, which leaves the body after death and makes its presence felt in the form of a fragrant scent, the odor of a burning candle, or a strange draft of wind. Instead of moving on, a karkarma inhabits a nearby tree to watch over their loved ones, take care of an unfinished business, or to haunt relatives who failed to visit when it was dying on its sickbed. A karkarma will only move on after a post-funerary offering of food is held for it..
There are cases when a karkarma leaves the body of a still living person in the form of vapor or an insect. The person won’t die but loses his reason and individuality. To make the karkarma return to the body, one has to say these words: “Intayon, intayon” or “Intayon kaddua,” while striking the chest with the palm of the hand.
According to Visayan folklore, the kas-kas is a bird-like aswang often heard circling the house of potential victims at night while making a sound from which its name is derived. If a house is elevated or on stilts it will prowl under it. In Siquijor, the kas-kas is described as having no eyes, ears, and nose, and its beak doesn’t have an opening.
In other areas like Cebu the kas-kas is believed to be a nocturnal bird that makes a sound when an aswang is on the prowl.
In Iluko belief, the katataoan are spirits or anito that take may take the form of giants sometimes and only reveal themselves to deserving humans. These spirits are known to pick up the bodies of dead people. When midnight comes they take on human forms and ride a phantom pahagad (carabao-drawn cart) in search of bodies to take with them. Their presence is preceded by the howl of dogs and the eerie sound of wooden cart wheels rolling on the dirt or concrete. Others sail the night skies on board a flying bangka or boat. It is said they eat the fresh corpses they find.
The kataw or katao are the Western Visayan version of the European merfolk. They are benevolent and sometimes go to land disguised as humans, mingle with the populace, and help those who are in need. When offended, they cause the offender to walk into the sea or jump off a boat and drown.
Unlike the sirena, the kataw have feet instead of tails but they have gills. They are considered as the ruling class among the tubignon (elementals and other supernatural creatures or beings that inhabit bodies of water) because they have the ability to control the sea and related elements.
Ilocano folks believe the katataw-an are spirits of infants that died unbaptized. They are notorious for assaulting newborns out of jealousy.
The natives of Maguindanao once believed that the eclipse was caused by the monstrous serpent kedu swallowing either the sun or the moon. The belief in the kedu is a Hindu influence which proliferated in some parts of Mindanao before the arrival of Islam. Kedu is derived from the Sanskrit Ketu. In Hindu myth, after the asura (demon) Svarbhanu’s head was cut off by Vishnu, his body joined with a snake and became Ketu. In Vedic astrology, when Ketu and Rahu, the bodiless head of Svarbhanu, align with the sun, moon, and Earth, eclipses occur. In Hindu mythology, this is interpreted as Ketu and Rahu trying to block the light of the sun or the moon.
The kibaan or kaibaan of Ilocano folklore are small (some say toddler-sized), playful creatures notorious for stealing boiled or roasted camote or sweet potato. Those who have seen them say the kibaan have fair skin, long noses, slant eyes, long hair the color of corn hair and reaches down their ankles, backward feet, and teeth with gold fillings. After sunset they are said to hangout and sing while playing small guitars in groves frequented by fireflies. They sweep the area around their dwellings clean and spicy aroma could be smelled from such places at sundown.
Some kibaan have a pot called kiraod which produces rice; however, the rice must be eaten directly from the said pot because it will disappear if transferred to another container.
In Bolinao, Pangasinan the kibaan are known as kaybaan. These wee folk are believed to live in anthills and cause maladies such as sore eyes and skin diseases to those who offend them. They also steal rice.
As believed by Bicolano folks, a kikik is a nocturnal bird with an eerie call that augurs the impending death of a person or persons in a community. Others speculate that it is actually an aswang disguised as a bird. Upon hearing this bird the people invoke the anito for protection.
In Ifugao myth, the kilkilan are two-headed spirit dogs that accompany the gatui and the tayaban.
According to Tinguian myth, Kimat is a lightning spirit that appears as a big white dog and servant of the great spirits. When the great spirit Tadaklan wants to punish people who have violated taboos, Kimat is sent down as a lightning on the offenders’ house. It bites the house, setting it on fire.
The kinnara or kinnari are half-human, half-bird beings known for their undying love and devotion to their human lovers. They have the upper body of a slender, beautiful woman and the wings, tail, legs, and talons of a bird. They are excellent dancers and musicians but will only show such talent the mortals they have fallen in love with. Once a kinnara has fallen in love with a human, her whole life will only revolve around him and she will spend the rest of her days serving him. Such is the devotion of a kinnara that even after her human lover died and has been buried, she will stay by his tomb. In the olden days, kinnara were mistaken to guard treasures in jars when in fact it is the remains of their lovers in jars they are looking after (people used to be buried in jars along with some of their personal belongings and valuables). It is said that when a kinnara becomes broken-hearted due to a human lover’s betrayal, she turns into a monster called mandurugo that sucks the blood of men to exact revenge.
The belief in the kinnara started when Hindu-Buddhist influence spread in the Philippines, especially in Agusan, Butuan, Surigao, and some parts of the Tagalog region in the 1st millennium A.D., before the arrival of Islam.
The kiwig of Aklan are aswang variants that transform into large dogs with sloping backs and crooked tails at night. When in human form, most kiwig have stooped posture because of their habit of prowling under elevated houses, especially in rural areas to lick sick or dying persons. They are notorious for attacking individuals who are still outdoors after dark and even livestock and poultry.
A koro-koro is a black or brown bird in Bicol said to presage death. If heard at night, it means an aswang is on the prowl. If its call is followed by muffled rumblings in the sky, it warns of impending death. Localities inhabited by this bird are said to have an aswang resident. Interestingly, there is a village named after this bird but the residents there deny the presence of an aswang in the area.
In Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao, the korokoto is an aswang that can turn into a dog or a cat. When it walks in its human form its feet don’t touch the ground. It hides behind bushes or trees in the woods and ambushes unsuspecting victims. It tackles the victim, drags him home, and cooks him. Its name is derived from the sound it makes “koto-koto”.
In Bicol, this hearth cricket’s eerie sound presage the death of a relative. If a sick person is in the house where the korokoy chirps, the help of a skilled healer is sought to prevent the patient’s death.
The kubot is a female aswang with very long and thick, disheveled hair which she uses to kill her victims. The kubot’s hair act like tentacles, grabbing or wrapping around the victim (in some cases the hair enters the victim’s orifices) and strangling or constricting him to death while sucking the life force. The kubot also uses her hair to fly, with the strands undulating or moving like jellyfish tentacles in the air. Her name means “to cling” or “to wrap”.
In Bantayan, Cebu the kubot is known as hamok.
In Pampanga, the kulariut or kalariut is an elusive being with big eyes, a long white beard, and a body covered by black hair. It lives in bamboo groves or in the forest. If a house is located near its home, it quietly observes the household members while they sleep. When it is attracted to a maiden, it takes her to its home against her will. Kulariut are hard to befriend since they are quite aloof. However, there is a belief that a person could tame a kulariut by stealing its loincloth and use it as a banner.
Before World War 2, three tall persons (two old folks and a young woman) dressed in hooded black robes would knock on the doors of houses in the middle of the night. Those who opened the door were told by the mysterious trio that a member of the family or household (usually the eldest or the one with an illness) will soon die. The trio usually showed up when there was an outbreak of diseases, especially cholera. They were believed to be harbingers of death.
In some parts of Visayas, after hearing about the trio of knockers, people painted their doors with a white cross to keep the trio at bay. Then rumors spread that the trio knocked on the doors of business and government establishments and even in churches.
After the war, visits from the trio became scarce until no one saw them again. It was speculated that most of the houses were destroyed in the war that the trio could not find a proper door to knock on. In Visayas they were called manoktok.
The kumaw or kumao of Sambal belief is a hideous man that abducts children. It bleeds the children to death by pulling out their fingernails. The kumaw also attacks individuals who are still outdoors after dark, dragging the victim to a secluded place to devour him.
In Ilocos, among the Tinguian, the kumaw is a malevolent spirit that can change its appearance, especially into a fabulous bird feared by the people because it snatches unattended children. It also has the habit of making individuals lose their way in the forest. Later, especially in the 1960’s, the kumaw became associated with a cult that kidnapped children and allegedly bled them to death in order to sprinkle their blood on a newly-built bridge or building as a ritual to ensure the durability or sturdiness of the structure. They were also believed to drink the blood or use it as sacrifice to their heathen god. Today, in Ilocos and Pangasinan kumaw is synonymous with kidnappers or abductors.
Known in Bangar, La Union, the kuraret takes and eats people’s souls by beheading them. While traveling at night, it pulls an iron cart containing the skulls of its previous victims. It passes by villages and enters the houses of those who fail to keep silent while it passed by their residence.
The kuripap are creatures similar to the tiyanak but don’t disguise themselves as ordinary babies. They’re no bigger than a one-year-old child and generally hideous in appearance: dark wrinkled skin, pointed teeth, big bald heads, and big bloodshot eyes. Some appear as hideous newly-born children with their umbilical cord still attached.
The la’aw are gentle pranksters in Manobo myth. They are tiny, elf-like forest-dwellers with feet pointed backward.
The lagtaw is a shadow-like giant with fiery eyes and has big ears and nose. It inhabits big trees and picks up persons who pass by and drops them on the ground, which often results to injuries. The Tausug people believe it also enters people’s dreams and induces nightmares.
According to the myth of ancient Kapampangans, the laho or lawu (also spelled lahu) was a huge serpent that caused the eclipse by swallowing the sun or the moon.
The ancient Kapampangan’s concept of the laho was derived from the Sanskrit Rahu after some Hindu-Buddhist beliefs were introduced and incorporated into the locality following the gradual settlement of Hindu-Buddhist-influenced immigrants in ancient times. In Vedic myth, Rahu is the severed head of the demon Svarbhanu, attempting to devour the sun and the moon. As the story goes, Svarbhanu wanted to drink the amrit or nectar of immortality reserved only for the deva or gods. He disguised himself as a deva but the sun and the moon discovered his ploy and ratted him out to Lord Vishnu who promptly beheaded Svarbhanu. But before he could die, Svarbhanu was able to sip a drop of the amrit, thus, his severed head became Rahu, the bodiless serpent, while his body merged with a serpent and became Ketu – both became immortal entities in the heavens. From then on Rahu and Ketu chased the sun and the moon to devour them or to blot out their light as revenge for foiling Svarbhanu’s plans.
In Buddhist mythology, lunar and solar eclipse occur when Rahu attacks the sun and the moon. Rahu is only compelled to release them when the said celestial bodies recite hymns for the Buddha and the Buddha himself threatens to shatter Rahu into seven pieces.
The laki of Bicolano folklore is a bipedal creature with a knack for scaring night travelers with its shrill, piercing voice but generally harmless. It has hooves for feet, goat-like legs, and a hairy body. Its face is that of a man but hideous.
Laman lupa is a collective term for dwarfs, gnomes, goblins, and other underground-dwellers in the Tagalog areas of Luzon. The duwende and the nuno belong to this group. In Pampango they are referred to as laman labuad.
The lambana are finger-sized tree and plant dwellers in the forests and mountains of Luzon. They have pointed ears and slanted eyes. Some have insect-like wings which they use to fly while others can float in the air. They are sometimes seen playing among plants on a full moonlit night or after a light shower.
In Ilongot belief, the lampong is a two-feet tall dwarf-like being wearing a black two-peaked cap, has bright yellow eyes set close together, and a long beard. It lives in the forest and serves as guardian and protector of the animals there. When an animal is being pursued or stalked by hunters, the lampong transforms itself into a white one-eyed deer with fine features and gets their attention, luring them to a chase away from the original target. It is said a hunter’s first five shots always misses the lampong. Should a hunter succeed in wounding the lampong in its animal form, he will incur the dwarf’s wrath in the form of a fatal illness which causes him to be bedridden, lose weight rapidly to a point that his body is skin and bone, and die eventually.
The lewenri are engkanto in Southern Iloilo and in Romblon with semi-glowing skin. They are exclusively male and are said to be extremely attractive mestizos, often seen wearing white, black, or violet clothes. With their soft and mesmerizing voice, the lewenri lure women to come with them to their abode in another realm but only if the women are willing. The lewenri employ the services of humans sometimes and they pay in gold, silver, or human currency. Like most engkanto, they hate salt and spices.
In the olden days, the Ifugao and Kankanaey tribes held the invisible liblibayu responsible for stomachaches or intestinal troubles. When offended, these spirits cause stomachaches by piercing the belly of a victim with invisible spears. They can be appeased with an offering of rice wine and chicken or pig. There must always be pig or chicken in the offering, otherwise they will be offended more and cause more pain to the victim (demanding, no?).
The Tinguian people know them as liblibayan and are considered as lesser spirits who serve and aid human masters.
LIGAW NA TAO
According to Ifugao belief, the ligaw na tao is a wild, hairy man in the forest, notorious for stealing and eating children.
Ilocano folktales tell of a diminutive male water spirit, the litao, who lives in the river (think of the Irish undine – male version) or the branches of reeds or trees on riverbanks or near streams. Sometimes he goes on land disguised as a normal person. Those who cut his trees without asking for permission are punished with illness. Though he can appear as human, his true nature is often revealed due to his strong fishy smell.
Lubi was the name given to the tiny being allegedly caught in the woods of Basud, Camarines Norte after the liberation from Japanese occupation. The being was described as a young woman only six to seven inches tall and dressed in leaves. She was called Lubi because it was the only comprehensible word she spoke. Her captors cashed in on her as a sideshow freak in a carnival, making her dance all day in front of spectators. The song “lubi, lubi, ikembot mo” is said to have been derived from what the people sang as they urged her to dance. Unfortunately, due to severe exhaustion and maltreatment, Lubi died during a presentation in the town of Vinzons, her mouth foaming.
The lubus were ancient Visayan herbalists who bartered strange roots which had miraculous effects.
According to Ilonggo folklore, a lulid or lolid is a whitish, piglet-sized creature with a body resembling that of a horned beetle larva or a worm while its head is like a pig’s. Some lulid have very short legs but most have no limbs at all. They burrow underground like earthworms and inhabit mounds or hills where, during full moon,their grunts could be heard.
Others claim that a lulid looks like a wrinkly-skinned infant without limbs and has a large head.
As believed by the Manobo people, the lunod are the busaw of streams, rivers, and lakes. When given an offering, the lunod ensure the fishermen will have a good catch. When offended they drown people.
As believed by the Tausug people, the lutaw or lutao are the reanimated corpses of people who have wronged others when they were still alive. They appear in their dirty funeral dress. Their heads are turned to or lean on one side because they have broken necks. They are said to show up just before sunset or after dark, chasing and scaring the wits out of people or strangling individuals to death. There is a belief that should a person encounter a lutaw, he mustn’t run away with his back turned to the revenant or else it will chase him; instead, he must flee backwards while facing the lutaw so it won’t follow.
Originally, in Philippine Muslim culture only the bantut (male Muslims tagged as gay or homosexuals) were said to become lutaw after death. The belief is that by virtue of the bantut as social deviants or violators of the Islam norm, even the earth itself rejects their corpses, turning them into lutaw.
Later, the possibility of becoming a lutaw was extended to sinners, avenging murder victims, and Muslims who weren’t buried in time of the traditional schedule of burial.
The magindara or marindaga are beautiful but vicious freshwater and saltwater mermaids in Bicolano myth. They drown adults, especially evil persons, and feast on the victims’ flesh until nothing but bones are left for the fishes to pick. Also called “aswang ng dagat”, they lure fishermen into the water with their sad but enchanting singing or humming. Those who have respect for nature are often spared. While they are malevolent towards grown-ups, they are known to be gentle to children, often saving kids from drowning. Their tails look more like those of eels or sea snakes, and covered with colorful but sharp scales. They are believed to be guardians of rivers, springs, seas, and even lakes. Some guard treasures hidden in the depths. Others tend to be curious and take on a human form to mingle with the human populace. They bring rain to make lands fertile but can also bring disasters such as storms, floods, and drought when offended.
The magkukutud (also spelled, magcucutud) is a nocturnal flier in Kapampangan folklore almost similar to the manananggal except that it has a flat nose and large ears. It also lays eggs in secluded places. When these eggs are found and cracked open they contain human body parts and organs. The magkukutud steals unattended corpses in wakes or digs out freshly-buried cadavers. Enchantment is allegedly used to make a corpse walk to the magkukutud’s house where the body is butchered and cooked.
Like the manananggal, the magkukutud’s weakness is its discarded lower half. Should salt or pepper be sprinkled on the exposed stump of the lower half or if it’s destroyed, the creature won’t be able to rejoin with it and ends up dead by sunrise.
Luzon’s magpuputol is an entity that can dislocate or detach its head, limbs, and other extremities. It terrifies people at night by showing up as just a head or a disembodied hand. The head often falls near the victims.
Mentioned by Fray Juan de Plasencia in 1589 in his classification of local witches and sorcerers in Luzon, the magtatanggal of Catanduanes is a person who, at night, detaches his head along with the entrails from the body. It is related to the wuwug and ungga-ungga of Visayas.
The magtitima or tomitima of Bukidnon belief are invisible spirits that inhabit trees, especially large old ones like the balete. They want to be treated as superior beings and they make those who cut their trees severely ill. As proud beings they aren’t easily appeased by offerings when one wishes to cut down their trees. Instead, very skilled herbolarios are employed to transfer them to another tree. Their preferred offering is white chicken served with native wine. A magtitima can appear as a white snake among the branches of the tree it inhabits.
The mahak is an aswang variant in Samar that feeds on the vitality of sick people, especially children. She only shows herself to her victims and is mostly invisible to others. Her skin is so pale to the point that it’s almost white, her face wrinkled, her eyes glaring and bloodshot, and her long stiff hair stand on end. Her name is derived from the sound she makes, which is described as almost similar to that of a duck but raspy or husky. She sucks the vitality of sick individuals while clinging to the window next to her victims or while crouched under the house directly beneath the victim’s bed. She flees when discovered by the victims who alert other members of the family.
According to Bagobo folklore, the mahomanay are fair-skinned male nature spirits that watch over and protect forest animals. They dwell in trees and spend some of their idle time chewing betel nut. Offerings of betel nut and anklets or leg ornaments are made for the mahomanay so the natives can hunt in the forest believed to be part of the spirits’ domain.
In Tinguian belief the makaboteng or boteng (a.k.a. sanadan) is a nature spirit and guardian of deer and wild pigs. His blessing is needed in order for the dogs that accompany hunters to succeed in the chase. He could make a hunter lose his quarry by making him follow an apparition – a child, a familiar person, or a fancy-looking animal. It is said anyone who sees such apparition loses control of himself and is forced to follow it (in a semi-hypnotized state) wherever it goes. One can be released from such spell if he accidentally hits an obstacle such as trees or stumbles on the ground. Upon escaping the makaboteng’s enchantment, the victim realizes that a considerable length of time has passed depending on how long he was under the spirit’s control (e.g.: an hour is equivalent to a day). Makaboteng means “one who frightens”.
In Waray folklore, a malakat is a man or a woman who turns into a hairy, canine or feline-like beast at night. While a malakat mauls a person, its hard wire-like hair strangles the victim or enters the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth to suffocate. The hair also emits a nauseating smell that could knock out the victim. When the victim is unconscious or dead, the malakat feeds on his flesh and innards.
A Spanish word for “malign ones”, maligno was the name given to supernatural creatures, often described as hideous and misshapen, that are either benevolent or malevolent towards humans. They are generally humanoid in form but with varying physical abnormalities. Some of the beings and creatures listed here belong to this group.
In Siquijor, the mamamarang are persons who practice haplit sorcery with a wooden manyika (doll) and pins as their main tools. The doll represents the victim and whenever it is pricked, he will feel excruciating pain. The needles are prepared and the doll is created during the seven Fridays of Lent. After the doll is created the mamamarang hires someone to take the doll to the church where a child is being baptized and have it baptized as well. The same thing must also be done to the doll during the child’s baptismal rite – even giving it a name similar to that of the child. If the child dies later, the doll will then be used for haplit as it is believed that the dead child’s spirit has possessed it to be the mamamarang’s servant.
The mambababoy is an aswang in Marinduque said to appear as a large black pig at night. It doesn’t prey on people; instead, it targets domesticated pigs.
In Sambal folklore, the mambubuno is a mermaid-like creature with her tail split into two scaly limb-like appendages terminating into wide flippers. The upper part of the body is that of a woman but covered with black, slimy scales. She lives in underwater caves and could be glimpsed basking in the moonlight, especially when the moon is full. She abducts those who stray near her lair, using magic so the victims won’t drown while being kept underwater. The victims could only return home if the mambubuno allows them. Those who try to escape end up dead by drowning and their remains are eaten by the mambubuno. A day spent in her lair is equivalent to a year on the surface.
The mameleu or mamaylo is a large aquatic snake in Western Visayan folklore. Its body is about 180 feet long while its head is the size of a fully-grown carabao’s body. It has two white horns, long fangs that spit venom, large thick scales, and yellow or fiery red eyes. It lives in the dark depths of the ocean and sometimes emerges near the surface to hunt for fish and other marine life. In other areas, especially in Negros it is called nanreben.
A mamumuyag is a vindictive female hexer in Eastern Visayan folklore, whose eyes look like those of cats or lizards when hit by the glare of the sun. She lives alone in the outskirts of the village and prefers that the people mind their own business. She leaves them be in return. Noise irritates her so people speak softly when she passes by. Eye to eye contact with her is a big no-no unless it can’t be avoided. She makes those who have offended her suffer through tumors or painful sores or a twisted mouth, which she inflicts through her black magic. Some say the images reflected on her eyes are inverted.
In Cagayan, the managbatu is a dark spirit in the shape of a man. It inhabits trees and at midnight throws stones and clods at the houses near its dwelling. It causes sickness to people who offend it.
The managinulod are hot-tempered hexers in Ilocos known for causing misfortune to their victims. Anyone who offends a managinulod will incur the latter’s wrath through misfortunes such as recurring or strange sickness or suffering accidents like a car crash or a burned house. Some pay a managinulod to harm their enemies.
Ilocano folks believe the managtanem uses a type of voodoo similar to those practiced in the Caribbean. A managtanem’s ritualistic witchcraft utilizes a voodoo doll that represents the victim. Pins are stuck in various parts of the doll to inflict severe pain on the victim, making him suffer.
A witch in Pangasinan known to be most active during full moon. What sets her apart from other witches is that she lifts from the ground the footprint of an intended victim. Upon returning home she roasts the footprint, which causes the victim to suffer high fever. She may also cause other victims’ intestines to scramble.
In Zambales, the manananem are known as maniniblot.
The most popular among self-segmenting viscera-suckers, the manananggal of Tagalog folklore appears as a normal woman by day but at night she goes to a secluded place and after taking her clothes off she rubs a special oil all over her body while chanting an incantation until a pair of bat-like wings sprout from her back. She grows a pair of fangs and her fingernails turn into sharp talons. Her body then separates at the waist and with a flap of her wings her upper body flies off, leaving her lower half behind. On a full moonlit night, some manananggal stare at the moon until gooey tears come out of their eyes and the upper body detaches. She feeds on the blood of a fetus or sucks the fetus out of a pregnant woman using her very long, thread-like tongue which pierces the mother’s navel and reaches for the unborn child. She swoops down and disembowels individuals who wander after dark and eats the liver of sleeping children. To kill her, ash, salt, or spices must be sprinkled on her discarded lower half, preventing her from rejoining with it. Alternatively, the lower half could be burned or hidden away. If the manananggal fails to rejoin with her lower half, she will die at sunrise.
A manananggal flies by unnoticed.
The manangilaw or manang hilaw are hairy humanoid giants in the mountains and caves of Bicol. Generally described as having big feet, bodies covered in black hair, deep voices, and vicious-looking, ape-like faces, the illusive manangilaw use vines, which some wrap around their waist like belts, to catch fish and shrimp in the river or hunt small animals. When their usual prey are hard to acquire, some manangilaw resort to eating children who have strayed in the forest. In the 1980’s two manangilaw, a mother and a child, were allegedly captured by soldiers patrolling in Mount Isarog. The two beasts were chained to train wagons for 15 days and were fed with live chicken and cow’s blood. Nobody knows what became of them.
According to Manobo myth, the manaog are revered spirit beings that reside in the smallest layer of the skyworld about the size of a gabi leaf. The manaog are fond of scaring children and making them cry.
The manbukay in Iloilo are female tamawo that hangout around shallow wells.
The mandarangkal of Tagalog folklore is an aswang in the guise of a gorgeous woman. She uses her good looks to seduce men to have sex with her in order to eat them. When the victim reaches orgasm, the mandarangkal grows claws and sharp, pointed teeth and bites or slits the victim’s throat and mauls him to death. She will then feast on his flesh.
Mandarangkal is the Tagalog name of the praying mantis which share the same habit with the monster – killing their mates. Female praying mantis are known to bite off the head of their males after mating.
So, be careful with the random gorgeous girl you meet in the club or other places, who wants to make out with you. She might be a mandarangkal and you’ll end up in the list of missing persons.
“Happy ending” with a mandarangkal.
The blood-sucking mandurugo of Philippine folklore use their beauty to attract and prey on men. In the olden days a mandurugo would get married to a healthy, plump youth to ensure a constant supply of blood every night. The tip of her hollow tongue tapers to a needle point and pricks the sleeping victim’s neck and sucks a bit of his blood. Another way for her to consume the victim’s blood is to insert her tongue into her sleeping husband’s mouth – the tip of her needle-like tongue pricking the inside of the mouth – and suck the flowing blood while seemingly kissing him passionately. The clueless husband loses weight rapidly, weakens, and withers away as the days go by. When the mandurugo has drained her husband dead, she assumes the form of a bird-like creature and flies off to look for another healthy youth to marry and feed on.
It is said the mandurugo arose from kinnara or kinnari who were betrayed by their human lovers.
A mandurugo in action.
In Waray belief, the mang-aawog (also spelled mang-aawug) uses a spell called awog against people who still fruits or vegetables from a farm or a plantation (usually coconut plantation). The spell is maintained by an accomplice, the evil spirit called kalag. Anyone who takes and eats a produce from the farm or plantation without the owner’s consent develops a bloated belly that grows bigger and bigger each high tide as the full moon approaches. The victim won’t be able to eat nor defecate and only foul-smelling fluid comes out of his orifices. His belly will grow as large as the belly of a pregnant woman until he finally dies on the third full moon. During his wake, the kalag arrives and bursts his belly open with a single touch.
The mangalok or mangangalek of Cuyonon folklore in Palawan is said to be a beautiful winged girl who eats the dead and kills sleeping people for their liver and innards. By day she sleeps soundly on the highest tree with her long flowing hair covering her face. At sunset she awakens and flies off to search for prospective victims. She enters a house and upon finding a suitable victim (usually a child or a pregnant woman) among the sleeping occupants, she extends her long hollow tongue and its pointed tip pierces the navel. She then proceeds to suck the innards or the fetus, killing the victim. Others say her tongue is inserted into the victim’s body via the anus. The mangalok is careful not to have her tongue touch a female victim’s genitalia, for it is allegedly poisonous to her. She may also visit a wake to feed on the deceased. The mangalok casts a spell on the people present in the wake so they won’t see her enter and feed on the corpse’s innards while laughing at them (in the olden days embalming was uncommon). Today, she has become synonymous with aswang.
The mangalok is also called mamaw, a term still used today to scare children.
The manghihikap were ancient Tagalog sorcerers who could kill a person instantly with just a single touch.
An ape-like giant in Panay Island’s forests, the mangingilaw has a hairy body, very long hair, big teeth, ape-like fangs, and sharp claws. Its black and thick body hair is said to be so tough that the beast can withstand slashes and hacks from any bladed weapon, however, it could be wounded if a pointed weapon is thrust through its hairs. The mangingilaw is primarily a carnivore – with humans included in its menu – but there are times when it eats fruits and moss or algae. When it does crave for raw meat, the beast prefers live prey. It is said that a mangingilaw is on the hunt when a strange, beast-like whooping is heard in the forest, especially in the late afternoon and after sunset. The mangingilaw is known to stalk, ambush or chase hunters and wood gatherers and will only abandon the pursuit when the person exits the forest it inhabits.
The mangingilaw’s name is derived from the word kilaw, meaning “food prepared raw”. Also there is a local delicacy called kilawin, its main ingredient is either raw fish or pork mixed with vinegar and spices.
The original mangkukulam were sorcerers who inflicted harm in a rather disgusting way and did it only once or three times a month, especially during rainy nights. The procedure involved the mangkukulam creeping under the house of the intended victim at night and wallowing in the muck and ordure under the batalan or sink-and-bathroom (in the olden days houses were elevated from the ground by posts, and the occupants took a bath, washed their feet, dishes, urinated, spat, and the untidy ones even defecated in the batalan) while whispering a mantala (incantation). Flames then engulfed the mangkukulam’s body, which caused the victim to become ill and finally die when the mangkukulam put out the flames. The flames can’t be extinguished even by water and only the mangkukulam can quell it. Only the excrement of a person near death can stop the mangkukulam.
When the practice of filth-wallowing died out, later generations of mangkukulam adopted voodoo and European-style sorcery which is still popular today. The most preferred medium in inflicting harm is a doll along with some pins. The doll represents the victim. A victim’s few strands of hair, a piece of personal belongings like clothes, or even a picture is attached to the doll. The mangkukulam pricks the doll in various points where he wants the victim to feel pain.
In Western Visayas, mangkukulam are called manughiwit.
A mangkukulam giving a fellow student “a hell of a time”.
In Pampanga, there is a type of sorcerer known as the mangkukusim or mangkukusino, who sends out his spirit to harm his victims. Through his spirits, the mangkukusim can poison his targets or put small metal objects or even small live animals such as a chicken inside the body of the victims without making direct contact.
The manglalabas (literally, “the one who appears”) of Tagalog folklore is the mischievous wraith of a miser. Three days after a miser dies, he returns and terrorizes (e.g.: throwing household items, move beds, pulling the legs of sleeping people, creating terrifying noise, showing up as a horrifying apparition) his family or anyone in the house until they are forced to abandon it out of fear. Those brave enough to stand the manglalabas’ horrifying antics are rewarded with the wraith revealing where it hid its fortune before finally resting in peace.
In Kapampangan folklore, the manglilili is an invisible creature or entity said to lead lone travelers astray. Those who fall victim to the manglilili wander in the forest for what seems like a few minutes or an hour only to find out later, after they are found or after escaping the enchantment, that they’ve been missing for hours or several days. Some say there are times the manglilili would take the form of a beautiful woman to lure men into the forest.
According to Iluko belief, the mangmangkit or mangmangkik are spirits of trees in the forest invoked through a ritual to allow a person to cut the trees believed to be their abode. The Kankanaey folk call them tumungaw. They cause illness to those who have offended them, especially people who urinate under or cut their trees without giving an offering first. To appease these spirits, an offering of chicken’s blood and the chicken itself must be made so they may lift the illness from the offender.
According to old folks in Bolinao, Pangasinan, the mangngibawanen is a woman who, through witchcraft, could put anything (usually small objects) in the body of a person, make her victims sick, or make a woman talk to herself as if she is insane.
An offshoot of the mangkukulam, the mangguguyam have the ability to make a person ill through fatal versions of usog or balis. They are skilled in using oraciones or incantations called palipad hangin to harm someone without the aid of potions. The mangguguyam whisper the incantation to the air directed towards the victim who will later fall ill, go crazy, or become catatonic. Some skilled mangguguyam feed on their victims’ energy like psychic vampires.
The manilag-nilag of Iloilo are female tamawo that attend human social gatherings and festivities.
A maninilong is an aswang in Catanauan, Quezon believed to prowl under nipa houses to victimize the household. It uses its long, thread-like tongue to suck the blood from the fetus of a sleeping pregnant woman or lick and eat the phlegm discharged by a sick person or one who suffers tuberculosis.
The manla’aw-la’w of Iloilo are tamawo often seen observing from behind anthills the activities of people.
In Visayan folklore, the manlalayog is a woman whose hair grows very long and wire-like at night. She is an aswang with deadly, foul-smelling hair, the nauseous stench of which can make a person lose consciousness. With her hair, the manlalayog strangles or suffocates a person while draining the victim’s life force, which results to death. Life force from victims keeps the manlalayog young and strong.
Ilocano people abhor the mannamay because these witches practice tamay to inflict suffering on others. The harm usually manifests as terrible itchiness on the victim’s body.
MANOBO TAGSELATA K’ALO
Described in Bagobo mythology as black people who live where the sun rises, the manobo tagselata k’alo can’t withstand daylight and the sun’s heat for half a day. Like humans they eat rice but they cook it in a peculiar way. Just before sunrise they leave a big pot outside full of rice and water. Then they creep back into their hole in the ground. The scorching heat of the sun cooks the rice and the black people retrieve this at noon. From noon until sunset, and then all night they play and work.
The mansalauan from Visayan folklore is a man-sized flying creature with bat-like wings and a long, sharp-tipped tongue which it uses to suck the internal organs of its victims. Its head looks like that of a chameleon while its hands and feet are simian, and the end of its tail is full of long bushy hairs.
The fetus-eating mansusopsop is an aswang with a very long, proboscis-like tongue that can extend into a thread-like form. Aside from preying on the fetus of pregnant women, it also uses its tongue to lick the sick and the dying, sucking their life force for nourishment.
Tagbanua folks of Palawan describe the mantahungal as a quadruped beast the size of a cow. Its body is covered by a shaggy coat of hair like a yak. Its head is hornless but its mouth is armed with two pairs of sharp tusks (two above and two below) capable of tearing through flesh and bone in one powerful bite. It lives in the mountains and attacks people on sight.
In some parts of Mindanao, the mantianak or manti-anak is the vengeful spirit of a pregnant woman who died before giving birth. Thinking that she could have lived had she not been impregnated by a man, she blames all men for her untimely demise. She returns as a wraith with a hole or slit in her bloated belly – the unborn child tucked inside. She exacts revenge by attacking any man she chances upon at night and savagely rips off the victim’s penis or testicles, causing him to bleed to death. In the middle of the night or the wee hours a mantianak could be heard humming a lullaby to her wailing baby. When such sound is heard within a residence, the men in the house must stay still and avoid making noise to be safe from the mantianak. In order to discourage the mantianak from attacking, a man must wear a woman’s skirt. In other areas in Mindanao, the mantianak takes the form of a flying head that bites off the penis and testicles of men.
The mantyu or mantiw of Western Visayan folklore are very tall spirit-like beings (taller than the tallest coconut or buri palm tree) seldom seen because they are invisible most of the time. They only reveal themselves when they feel like doing it. It is said a mantyu is passing by when strange whistling is heard from high up in the air at night and the wee hours. The mantyu are fond of whistling while traveling.
Those who have allegedly glimpsed a mantyu describe it as human-like in appearance with fair complexion, a lean physique, wide shoulders, long and slender limbs, and a tall aquiline nose. Male mantyu are said to have incredibly long penis and dangling testicles. The mantyu are so tall they can traverse a vast expanse of field in no time with just a few steps. However, as spirit-like beings, they never leave footprints.
Although peaceful, the mantyu hate it when a person mimics their whistling. There are also times when the mantyu play pranks on people by picking up night travelers and carrying them on their shoulders. Mantyu means “lanky” or “gangling” in Visayan.
In Western Visayas old tales tell of the marcupo or makupo (a.k.a. magkupo), a large venomous snake with a prominent red crest or parong on its head, a tongue with thorn-like hairs, a pair of sharp tusks, and a forked tail. It lives on top of trees in the mountains – its body wrapped around the branches – and grabs unsuspecting victims below. On quiet days it could be heard singing sonorously. In Negros Occidental one marcupo was known to lurk in a tree called kamandag in the mountains. Travelers who took refuge under the tree died either due to the serpent’s venomous bite or because of its venom that soaked the tree and the soil under it. Some parts of a marcupo’s body are said to have superb medicinal properties.
A slain marcupo.
The marispis in Western Visayas are spirits that make cricket-like sounds. Their deep, sharp, eerie chirps presage the coming of a ghost, sickness, or death, especially when heard from outside the window.
In Iloilo, the marukpuk are spirits of the dead that haunt bamboo groves. The frequent sound of creaking or splitting bamboo, snapping of twigs, and rustling of bamboo leaves despite the absence of a strong wind indicate their presence.
According to Manobo myth, the matigla-agnon is a blood-thirsty busaw that roams the sky when it is red (mostly during sunset).
The monstrous matruculan of Luzon is the bane of women and infants. His skin is pitch-black while his eyes are big. This creature mauls pregnant women to death in order to eat the fetus inside the womb. He rapes women, especially virgins in their dreams and actually impregnates them. He returns during the late stages of pregnancy to eat his own spawn. In the olden days, husbands would brandish a knife above the belly of their pregnant wives to protect them from the matruculan.
The may-galing were sorcerers during ancient times in the Quezon province of Luzon, who had the ability to create illusions. Their favorite was conjuring a multitude of snakes in an instant.
In Bagobo myth, the minokawa is responsible for the lunar eclipse. It was believed that this island-sized bird always tried to swallow the moon. To discourage it from consuming the moon completely, the people would make loud noise. Its abode is somewhere outside the eastern sky (probably space). This gargantuan bird has a beak and talons of steel, eyes like mirrors, and tough sharp feathers.
According to Ifugao folklore, the monduntug are spirits that haunt the mountains. Hunters fear the monduntug because the latter are notorious for causing people to lose their way.
A motog is a male aswang that shape-shifts into a vicious monster with the head of a boar and the body of a man.
Derived from the Spanish word “muerto” meaning “the dead”, the multo or murto are wandering spirits of the dead. They haunt their families, friends, and relatives or the places where they died or places they held so dearly when they were alive, refusing to accept the truth or have no idea that they are already dead. Others linger in the world seeking justice or revenge for their unnatural death.
The diminutive murukpok is barely three feet tall with dark skin, curly hair, and looks somewhat cross-eyed. It’s usually seen strolling the Iloilo countryside with a red cowl on its head. It walks with a cane while a bow and a quiver of arrows is strung over its shoulder. The murukpok is malevolent and very powerful. By just pointing its cane at someone, that person will fall ill. Instant death befalls those who get struck by its cane or get shot by its arrows.
The muwa of Central Panay mythology are known for hoarding food provisions such as palay (rice) and other harvested crops. They reside in remote areas and may appear as old men or women. When in their true form, they have very long, kinky, greasy hair. Their bodies are also covered in hair like the alleged wild men of China and Indonesia. They reside in bamboo groves in their bamboo palaces. Despite their appearance and the fact that they eat humans, the muwa are civilized and have a culture of their own. It is said that any farmer who fails to invite them during the pre-harvest rite called pangkuyang will have his crops harvested ahead by the muwa.
The naga, according to Tiruray belief, is a huge eight-headed fish, possibly an eel, in the depths of the ocean.
In Bicolano myth, the naga are eel-like mermaids powerful than the magindara. They have greyish or silvery scales. Unlike the vicious magindara, the naga are benevolent, more intelligent, and have better command of the weather. However, when they are offended they could conjure up storms, devastating winds, or cause the rivers to overflow and flood the surrounding areas.
The concept of the naga may vary in the local myths of the Philippines, but this is derived from Hindu-Buddhist beliefs brought by settlers from Hindu and Buddhist-influenced kingdoms in Southeast Asia. In Hindu-Buddhist tradition, the naga are benevolent half-human, half-snakes or serpents with many heads.
No one has ever seen what the door-knocking nangangatok looks like. But all agree that it is a harbinger of death and other misfortunes. Those who open their doors to answer the knock won’t see anyone outside. A few days later the household will suffer a misfortune in the form of sickness or death of some of its members. Cautious people would peek through their windows first to see who was knocking. If no knocker was seen outside, they never open the door.
The niñong buhay is popular among those who seek anting-anting, agimat, and supernatural abilities. Named after the Santo Niño, it’s not exactly the child Jesus himself but a being that appears like a living native version of the Santo Niño image – small in stature (no taller than a toddler or even smaller), curly hair, and dark brown skin. There are many varieties of this creature, which vary in size. Their complexion range from agta (black), brown, and red (considered as the most powerful). One variety is called caballero because it rides a winged horse-like creature. They wear nothing but loincloths. They can be found in certain areas in the forest, especially on Mount Madyaas in Panay Island, and can only be seen and captured after doing certain preparations and rituals. If one succeeds in capturing one of these beings, he must snatch the libreta or booklet the size of a matchbox tucked in its loincloth at the waist. This booklet contains knowledge on acquiring supernatural abilities (e.g.: running on water, standing on the thinnest branch, super strength, extraordinary agility). But he who snatched the booklet must be careful, for the creator of the niño, a being described as a “white kapre” will arrive and try to retrieve the booklet. If the person succeeds in fending off the “white kapre,” it will depart with the niño but the two can be summoned for help. If a person already owns a niño, he can use it to capture other niños.
NUNO SA PUNSO
The nuno sa punso of Tagalog folklore is a small, gray-skinned, pointy-eared, and bearded old man no taller than a one-year-old child but older than the oldest trees around. He was considered by the ancient folks as the true owner of the land. Old folks say he’s been around before man set foot on the archipelago. He is often seen seated on top of an anthill absorbed in deep thought or roaming the fields or hills. Nobody really knows where he lives although most say he resides in the hollows of a tree or inside an anthill no taller than a person’s knees. Unlike the duwende, he is more forgiving and only inflicts harm when push comes to shove. Most of his kind are fond of children and women and they sometimes leave gifts to those whom they favor. An offering of unsalted viand is much welcomed by the nuno sa punso.
The nuno sa punso is also known as apo, lakay, and matanda. In some areas in Mindanao, he is called tawang lupa.
The oguima were hairy humanoid creatures in the forests and mountains of Aklan province. They had goat-like legs and hooves like fauns or satyrs.
Most farmers in Davao used to hold an offering rite for the diminutive and invisible omayan or kalaloa ng omay. The rite involved sprinkling rooster blood on stalks of rice before they were planted as sacrifice to the omayan, ensuring a bountiful harvest. It was believed the omayan protected the crops from infestation and destruction. Failure to hold the ritual would anger the omayan which destroyed the farmer’s crops.
The onglo of Bicol are said to be ape-like creatures with pointed ears and terrifying looks. Their bodies are full of straight, black hair while the skin on their elbows and knees are tough. They live in the forest near swamps where they sleep for hours, crouched under fallen trees. When disturbed or provoked, they attack with such ferocity. Contact with their hair causes allergies. Clams are their favorite nourishment, which they gather from the swamp. They crush these clams between their elbows and knees to get the tasty morsels inside.
The Ilongot people believe the palasekan are invisible tree-dwellers. These spirits whistle to humans and hangout near human habitations in the evening until early in the morning. They spend their time listening to a magical music box while drinking native wine. They help good and honest farmers take care of the crops and warn those who are in danger, for they have the ability to foresee the immediate future of people. Those who cut a palasekan’s tree may appease the spirit with an offering of wine made from sugarcane.
According to Mandaya tradition, the palili are spirits that reside on the summit of Mount Campalili. The palili guard an enchanted lagoon at the peak of the said mountain. This lagoon is filled with alligators, turtles, sharks, and other kinds of fish. The palili will petrify or turn to stone anyone who desecrates the lagoon.
The parakaraw are witches in Bicol, who inflict stomachaches and other bowel-related maladies by whispering or blowing a dark incantation to the food of their intended victims.
In Pampanga, the pasatsat are ghosts that appear in the form of rolled up banig (sleeping mats made of woven reeds). During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, burial in a coffin was uncommon as it was considered too costly by the locals who have become impoverished because of the war. Corpses were instead wrapped in sleeping mats and buried away from the communal cemetery to be safe from grave-robbing. The pasatsat usually show up in solitary roads, blocking lone travelers. In order to get rid of the ghost, one must stab it. This causes the mat to unroll but there won’t be any corpse inside; instead, a putrid odor of rotting flesh is released into the air.
In Ifugao belief, the pili are guardian spirits invoked to watch over a property against thieves and trespassers. Accompanied by a spirit dog, a pili bites anyone who steals or trespasses its charge. Its bite will become swollen and can only be healed through a ritual involving the sacrifice of a chicken.
The Ifugao and Kankanaey people believe the pinading or pinad’ing are nature guardians that inhabit boulders, rocks and sacred trees called patpatayan. These spirits also watch over rice fields and granaries. They look like normal people and are mostly benevolent.
As a mischievous shape-shifting entity, the piritay of Batangas waylays persons at noon or at sunset by appearing as someone familiar or attractive to the victims. It lures individuals to follow it and those who do, find themselves in an unfamiliar place and realize that they’ve been gone for hours. The unlucky ones often end up falling off a cliff, swallowed by quicksand or never seen again. The piritay‘s true form is said to be that of a woman with red skin.
According to Bicolano myth, the pongo is a creature resembling an orangutan. However, it is twice bigger than a male gorilla and a lot faster than an ordinary orangutan.
The pongkoe in Aklan is an imp-like creature fond of tickling sleeping individuals.
Waray folks tell of an aswang that appears as an ordinary person. It is only active when the moon is full, making a sound from which its name is derived while searching for prospective victims. When it makes the sound a fourth time it means it’s already inside the victim’s house. It steals infants whose parents have fallen asleep and kills individuals who sleep alone.
Interestingly, poo in old Visayan means “to injure, to kill, or to betray the sleeping”.
The happy-go-lucky pugot of Ilocano folklore can detach its head without dying. Taller than a man and having a very dark complexion, this being can morph into a dog, a boar, or a huge pheasant. It lives in the woods or the forest where it sits on a tree branch during idle times. Known as a prankster, it scares people by showing up without its head, the exposed stump of its neck bubbling with blood. Also, having developed a fondness for women, the pugot is notorious for stealing their underwear hung outdoors to dry overnight. The pugot feeds on small animals and insects which it swallows through its neck. It is known as numputol in other parts of Luzon.
In Kapampangan folklore, the pugot mamu is a headless tree-dwelling giant that devours children. It swallows the victim whole through the gaping hole at the stump of its neck.
The puting baba of Luzon are subterranean, white skinned goblin-like creatures with very long chins. They make their chins protrude on the surface of the ground, making them appear as stones or mushrooms. Whosoever is foolish enough to trip on them or pick them up is pulled underground.
Iloilo’s putot are small, goblin-like underground dwellers with truncated body parts. Some only have one leg, one arm, or no limbs at all and move by means of crawling or rolling.
The ragit-ragit of Romblon are tiny beings with slant, non-winking, and insect-like eyes. They never grow old and only infants less than a year old or chosen individuals can see them. They steal or inflict illness to babies left unattended outdoors after dark.
The rioa-rioa from Bagobo myth is comparable to the cosmic or eldritch monstrosities created by American master of horror H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine a serpentine or worm-like monstrosity with a head as huge as the moon suddenly coming down from the vastness of the sky, emerging from the clouds, and suspends itself at the zenith, swinging like a pendulum, and devours people offered to it by its servant Tabankak with its enormous gaping mouth.
In the olden days, during an outbreak of cholera, people in the Tagalog region feared that the salut or salot (literally, “pestilence”) would come knocking on their doors. As the name suggests, the salut was a personification of pestilence and disease, especially cholera, in the form of a mysterious old woman dressed in black. This spirit would roam in the middle of the night and knock on houses. Anyone who answered her was stricken with illness and died eventually.
The katataoan’s counterpart in Ilocos Norte are the sangkabagi which means “unity of bodies” or “one body.” They are beings from another realm and appear as fair-looking people. At midnight the sangkabagi sail the skies on a small wooden boat, searching for the souls of the dead to take to the afterlife. They would, from time to time, chose individuals to serve as their medium in healing the sick. These individuals become local healers called maibangbangon. Later, the sangkabagi were demonized by the Spaniards. From ferrying the souls of the dead, they became spirits that feed on the dead. The sangkabagi allegedly ate the liver of people who have offended them and filled the gaping wounds on the victims’ bodies with herbs. They became notorious for dragging sleeping people or making individuals lose their way. These spirits could also see the entrails of living people. The sangkabagi gave magical books to the people they liked. These books had the ability to transport the owner to any desired place in an instant.
The santelmo or santermo (also spelled santilmo) is a floating or bouncing ball of fire often seen after a rain or during a drizzle at any time of the day, though, mostly at night. Depending on stories, it chases people or floats to an unknown destination. It is widely believed that the santelmo are either enchanted beings or the spirits of murdered people seeking justice or out for revenge. There are stories of santelmo taking on the shape of a flaming person. A santelmo is allegedly created when a murder victim’s blood spills on the ground and becomes exposed to the scorching heat of the sun and then the rain on the same day. A ball of fire will then emerge after the rain. According to others some santelmo serve as guardians of buried treasures, chasing or scaring away would-be trespassers. These guardians may be elementals or spirits of slaves buried with the treasure of a dead datu or chieftain. The name santelmo is derived from Saint Elmo’s fire which is said to be seen by sailors in the middle of the sea and believed to be the spirits of people lost at sea.
The santelmo is known as mangalayo among the Sulod people in the mountains of Panay Island. It appears late in the afternoon or at night, especially during a rain and chases people. In Zamboanga it’s referred to as bulay fuego.
Known as allawaig in Ilocos, it leads travelers astray into dangerous paths like cliffs, quicksand, swamp, or deep pits on the ground.
In Pangasinan the flying or leaping ball of fire that never burns its surroundings is called silew or silew-silew. Its flames glow bright blue, green, orange, red, or yellow.
If the Greeks have the minotaur, the Ibanag people have the sarangay. This beasts’s head is that of a carabao or water buffalo while its body is that or a man. The sarangay is fierce and extremely territorial. It chases those who stray into its lair in the forest and mauls to death those who attempt and fail to steal the magical jewels attached to its ears. The person who successfully acquires these jewels will gain supernatural abilities such as being able to wrestle the sarangay to submission.
The sarul of Iloilo are spirit beings disguised as animals and insects. They lurk around secluded byways to observe passing travelers. Sometimes, they play pranks by spooking travelers with eerie sounds.
In the morning, the sarut of ancient Ilonggo folklore appears as an average person but at night he/she turns into a dog-like creature and attacks those who wander in the night. When people are hard to come by, it preys on livestock and poultry, causing heavy losses to those who have farm animals. Its name literally means “pest” or salot in Tagalog.
The sasailo are the Tinguian version of the anito. The benevolent sasailo dwell among us with some disguised as normal persons. They are both feared and respected for their boundless knowledge, longevity, and the ability to influence daily activities.
The sigbin or amamayong are creatures resembling a cross between a dog, a goat, and a kangaroo a bit larger than a goat and have whip-like tails. Although four legged they mostly hop on their longer hind legs. They have wide ears that clap when they’re on the move. At sunset or during the night they are often seen eating squash blossoms in a garden or a farm. At noon they roam in search of small creatures in mounds. They can move so fast for human eyes to see, giving way to the belief that they can become invisible. Their presence is often betrayed by their nauseating odor. Some say the sigbin walk backward.
The sigbin are attracted to the smell of a dying person, often hastening his death by licking him. They can make a person sick or kill him by biting his shadow. Good luck is bestowed upon persons whom they choose to befriend provided they are fed with charcoal and, in some cases raw meat. A sigbin could be used as transport. All a person has to do is to ask his friend sigbin and tell it where he wants to go. Then upon sitting on the sigbin‘s back (facing the creature’s tail) he should tap the tail’s base gently and off they go as fast as lightning. Some of the aswang use them as familiars.
A person or a family who have a pet sigbin are called sigbinan. When the sigbin are not active, the sigbinan keep them in clay jars with a supply of charcoal for nourishment. The sigbinan can command their pet sigbin to harm or steal from anyone. This is the reason why the sigbinan are wealthy.
In the olden days, the sigbinan were originally sorcerers who could change into alligators, snakes, or dogs and preyed on people. They killed children and made amulets out of the hapless kids’ hearts.
The silagan were flightless aswang in Catanduanes. People with fair skin and those dressed in white during mourning were their preferred victims. It is said they can see the internal organs of a person. They always went by twos, one wearing a white robe and the other clad in black. The duo would lie on either side of a sleeping person, and the one clad in white robe took the victim’s liver away after the other tore the victim open through the anus.
The sinan baboy of Iloko belief resemble wild pigs and hangout under mango trees. Small in size, they will sometimes pass through the legs of a person unnoticed. When angered they grow to immense size and trample a person to death.
In Ilocano belief, a sinandapi is a terrifying tall being as black as the night. It lives in big trees and follows people to their homes. It haunts people’s dreams especially women on whom it acts like an incubus, inducing a nightmare.
The sinandapi also takes on various forms to deceive people. When it takes the form of an old woman it is called sinan baket. When it turns into a man it is called sinan lakay, and when it assumes the form of a priest or shaman it is called a sinanpado or sinanpadi.
A sinasa’ban is an aswang in Bicol said to be particularly attracted to the smell of the phlegm and other excreta of sick people. It finds the smell of such things intoxicating and becomes elated upon capturing even the faintest scent of fresh excrement. Guided by its nose, it locates the sick person’s house and from then on visits the house every night to satiate its grotesque olfactory needs. In doing so, it slowly absorbs the victim’s life essence, causing his condition to worsen.
In the olden days in Quezon Province and in Laguna, the sipay is a mysterious man (allegedly hired by people engaged in the construction of bridges and buildings) who snatches children who are outdoors at 3 p.m. or after sunset and carries them off inside a sack (some say the sack is black). The sipay decapitates a captured child and collects the victim’s blood. Others say the innards and flesh are set aside for the sipay to eat later. The sipay brings the blood to his contractors and either mixes it with the cement or smears it on the structure as some sort of ritual to ensure the bridge or building lasts and can withstand the test of time.
It can be told if a sipay is approaching because the area suddenly becomes so quiet and a somewhat foul stench could be discerned in the air. Some sipay may snatch more than one child which it loads on a wooden cart.
Later, the sipay was used to scare children who refuse to take a nap in the afternoon or those who remain outdoors at 3 p.m. until sundown.
In other areas the sipay is known as manunupot. In Bicol and Camarines Norte, he is known as mambabansok. In other areas the sipay is called mandudugo or mamumugot.
Folklore about the sirena, local mermaids, is popular throughout the Philippine archipelago. All sirena appear as women with fish tails instead of legs. However, there are varying accounts about the appearance of the sirena. Some say they have seaweed-like hair, a pair of small holes in place of a nose, dark and fish-like eyes, a fish-like mouth filled with small pointed teeth, webbed hands, and a tail closer to those of aquatic mammals. This version of the sirena can’t talk and only make sounds similar to those of whales or dolphins. The more popular version are those with the upper body of a beautiful woman and a long tail like that of a fish complete with scales. These are said to be a hermaphrodites, capable of having an offspring with humans. They are notorious for luring people to the sea with their sweet voices and singing. Their hair is said to be an effective bait in catching fish.
It seems the sirena’s being malevolent or not varies individually and sometimes depends on how they perceive humans.
The siring or sir’ing of Bagobo folklore are curly-haired, shadowy creatures with long, sharp and tough fingernails. They abduct children by disguising as the victims’ relatives. The victims are kept in their lair in a cave or a cliff and are fattened with a meal of worms, only to be slaughtered and eaten later. One way to elude these creatures is by carrying red pepper which they hate.
In mid to late 19th century Iloilo, travelers on horseback or carriage told of encountering a restless spirit at night. The spirit at first appeared as a normal human and asked to hitch a ride. On the way it would talk casually and confess of its nine sins that it committed nine times. Then the hitchhiker will turn into a skeleton in tatters and ask for the nearest church and disappear while the travelers screamed their heads off. In one story, the siyam-siyam finally found peace when he encountered a friar.
Despite having a body bigger than an ordinary man, the ogre-like ta-awi is very agile. Its thunderous voice terrifies Maranao hunters. It raids villages and devours people alive but doesn’t eat their eyeballs because it can’t digest them for some reason.
In the folklore and mythology of the Bagobo people, the tagamaling are considered as the least evil among the buso, for there are times when they’re good to the people. The Mandaya people, on the other hand, regard them as the ones who taught the tribe how to weave the dagmay cloth, while ancient Manobo folk considered them as spirits that watched over the crops. Said to dwell in invisible houses of gold on top of large trees, they sometimes appear as normal looking people. Their true appearance, however, is hideous with only one eye and fearsome fangs. They are also slightly taller than a man. This fearsome form only appears every other month at the start of the full moon until the beginning of the new moon. During this period, they become true buso, killing and eating any human they meet. After that they revert to their good nature for a whole month between the new moon and before the beginning of the full moon. Having magical powers, they could turn to rocks those who offend them.
The Manobo people believe the tagbanua or mangudlaway are harmful busaw that dwell in balete trees.
The tagolabong or tagalabong was a terrifying humanoid creature encountered in the fields, pasture lands, and mountains of Panay Island during ancient times.
The red-skinned and yellow-eyed tahamaling of Bagobo folklore are considered as guardians of animals. These elusive female spirits of the forest are mostly active at night. They take care of wounded animals, including the domesticated ones in nearby villages. Those who were lucky to glimpse them say they wear nothing but bracelets and anklets made of bones. It is believed they inhabit trees.
The Yakan people in Zamboanga say the talahiang is a muscular, twelve foot tall version of a male negrito. This giant with thick lips, large nose, big teeth, and coarse kinky hair inhabits big trees. It leads people astray but is easily scared away by noise. When spooked it transforms into a big lizard and flees. Like the batibat, it induces nightmares to those who reside near its tree.
In Manobo myth, the tama or tame is a malevolent giant spirit that inhabits big trees, like the balete, in the forest. The tama leads hunters and travelers astray with strange calls and other sounds. Its footprint is said to be 6 feet in length. Sometimes it picks up people and eats them.
The elf-like tamawo or tumawo of Western Visayas live in vast mansions hidden underground, in the woods, or on elevated areas in the field. They use big trees as portals to the human realm. They appear as handsome young men and beautiful women sans a shadow, their true form being tiny people with very long hair that reach the ground. They mingle with humans and even attend mass but leave before the benediction. A person who eats tamawo food (black, violet, or red, big grained rice that seem to move) can never go home and becomes a tamawo.
There are male tamawo that hypnotize women to have sexual intercourse with them. After that the woman immediately bears a child which will be taken away by the father. The mother will remember the whole incident as a dream.
Like the engkanto, tamawo disguised as ordinary persons have no philtrum or the dent between the nose and the upper lip.
Some prefer to reside in the house of humans, called lumon. The lumon play pranks on members of the household by hiding some of their belongings which are later found from where they first disappeared.
In Tagalog folklore, the tambal (meaning, “a pair”) is a forest spirit, a local version of the doppelganger, notorious for copying the appearance and voice of a person. Once a person enters the forest inhabited by a tambal, the spirit will cause the said person to get lost in the forest for hours or even days. Meanwhile, the tambal copies the victim’s appearance and mingles with the latter’s relatives, family, or acquaintances. The victim could only be set free from the tambal’s enchantment if someone finds him in the forest or if the tambal’s deception is discovered by someone familiar with the victim. Other tambal kill their victims in order to replace them for a period of time. The disguised tambal then disappears or fakes its death supposedly caused by a mysterious illness but its corpse is nothing but a cut banana trunk or a small tree trunk made to look like the victim.
The tambaloslos of Bicolano and Visayan folklore is a dark and hairy humanoid creature with a large mouth and thick protruding lips which cover its round eyes when it laughs. Some say this creature is only two feet tall while others claim it’s tall but very skinny with long arms and legs. It lurks in the woods and is mostly active at noon. It disorients and terrorizes individuals it chances upon, causing them to get lost and go in circles for hours. The tambaloslos would make creepy sounds such as a maniacal laugh as it stalks the victims or blocks the path while grinning from ear to ear. To escape the creature’s clutches, the victims must take off their clothes and wear them inside-out. The tambaloslos finds this amusing and, thus, becomes distracted, breaking its enchantment on the victims.
In other stories, the tambaloslos has very large, long and wrinkled penis and loose, saggy testicles, which dangle close to the ground. It victimizes women, harassing them sexually. The women could escape after the creature gets to look at their breasts while they’re wearing their clothes inside-out. The tambaloslos gets aroused until its erect penis blocks its view, therefore, allowing the victims to escape.
The Mandaya and the Bukidnon people once believed that the lunar eclipse was caused by the tambanakawa or tambanokano, a gigantic crab in the sea, as it tried to devour the moon. Aside from lunar eclipse, it was also believed to create the sea’s tides and big waves by scuttling around. The Bukidnon people believe this huge crab from the mountains caused the great deluge by plugging the world’s navel in the sea. The Manobo people, on the other hand, believe the tambanakawa is a huge spider or scorpion that attacked the moon once in a while in an attempt to eat it.
TANDAYAG NA OPON
The tandayag was a giant wild boar in the Bicolano epic Ibalon.
The tanggae of Aklan looks similar to a manananggal but it has the ability to disguise its discarded lower half into an anthill. Thus, the lower half is safe from being discovered and destroyed while the tanggae is away searching for prey.
The Tagalog tanggal or tanggar in Palawan refers to the self-segmenting night fliers that can detach the upper part of their body from the lower half at the waist or the head from the rest of the body like the manananggal and the ungga-ungga.
Some trees in the forest are not what they appear to be. Such is the case of the taong tuod of Tagalog folklore. They are beings in the shape of trees. But unlike trees, they can move but aren’t mobile, have fewer leaves, most have weird or humanoid in shape, and they are smaller in size with a hollow in the middle of the trunk. They ensnare and kill those who get near them.
A tawak or magtatawak is a healer who specializes in treating snakebites, especially those from venomous snakes. Born the same day a snake hatched from its egg, it is said a tawak has supernatural bond with the latter and other serpents including some reptiles, which makes him immune to snake venom. He can expel the venom from snakebites and cure the patient by applying his saliva or using magical stones on the wound. Moreover, a tawak has the ability to command snakes and other reptiles.
TAWO SA SALUP
According to Bukidnon belief the tawo sa salup are spirits in the forest. They are called upon for their aid in times of war. People who enter or pass by their territory without invoking their permission are punished with sickness.
TAWO SA TALONAN
The Tagbanua of Bulalacao Island in Coron, Palawan believe the tawo sa talonan (means “people in the forest”) are forest-dwelling, dark and hairy beings that eat children and play pranks on hunters, wood gatherers, and travelers.
In Bicolano myth, the tawong lipod are benevolent, elf-like beings. Most are short and lean in stature and the rest are tall. Most of the time they move so fast that humans rarely see them. They can talk to animals and they know a lot of nature’s secrets. They can also fly and can send strong gusts of wind to punish people who have offended them.
According to Ifugao myth, the tayaban are are tiny, humanoid flying creatures with scales so shiny and radiant that they appear like fireflies at night. Despite their small size, the tayaban can kill a person by preying on or consuming his soul.
The tayho (also spelled tayhu) of Western Visayan folklore are similar to the centaur of Greek mythology except they have beast-like faces and have the ability to disappear at will. During full moonlit nights a tayho could be glimpsed roaming the forest or the swampy areas abundant with mangroves. Most persons who see them end up staring blankly in the air for a few moments or lose their way should they attempt to follow the creatures. The tayho are hard to track down because they don’t leave any tracks or hoof prints on the ground. It is believed they live in a different realm.
It is said the tayho are the offspring of a female water buffalo and a giant male agta.
In Manobo myth, a tibaglinaw is a half-diwata, half-busaw spirit that inhabits the budbud tree.
The tibsukan of Central Panay folklore appears as a piglet with a longer snout which it uses to burrow underground where it prefers to live. Anyone who disturbs it gets sick. Some of the engkanto and witches make the tibsukan their pet and whenever they want to harm people who have offended them, they command their tibsukan pet to burrow and live under the victim’s house and make the latter seriously ill.
According to the Bicolano epic Ibalon, the tiburon or tiburones were giant flying sharks with tough hide and saw-like teeth that could crush rocks.
In Tagalog lore, the tigabulak are aswang (usually old men) that lure children with candy and other sweets. Upon reaching a secluded area, a tigabulak incapacitates the child and puts him/her in a sack which he carries to his dwelling in the woods. The child is then butchered. The tigabulak collects the victim’s blood which he sells in the market along with some of the child’s meat – perfect for dinuguan (a local dish of pork and blood).
In Sulod-Bukidnon belief, the tigadlum are people who can make themselves invisible. Such ability is possessed mainly by sorcerers, witches, and aswang.
According to the Sulod-Bukidnon tribe in Panay, individuals who can pass through solid objects (like Shadowcat in X-Men) are called tigalpu.
The tigbanua are vicious varieties of buso in Bagobo myth. They dwell in caves, jungles, and rocky areas, and attack people. Often described as one-eyed, they are very tall with lean, long bodies and long necks which they can twist to see behind them. They have dirty, curly hair, a yellow or red eye, flat noses, pointed teeth and fangs, bony over-sized feet, and their pale leathery skin is caked with grime. They hunt in groups at night and gang up on a human victim, dismembering him with their long claws and eating him. Despite their fearsome reputation, they are afraid of dogs.
Ancient Tagalogs believed the tigmamanukan was a small omen bird with blue and black feathers. If a traveler encountered a tigmamanukan flying to the right it meant his journey will be without incident, but if the bird flew to the opposite direction it meant he might encounter dangers along the way and even lose his way and may never be seen again. According to Fray Pedro de San Buenaventura, a Franciscan friar from the early 1600s, a native hunter who accidentally caught a tigmamanukan usually cut off the bird’s beak before setting it free while uttering, “Kita ay iwawala, kun ako’y mey kakawnan, lalabay ka,” which translates to: “I will set you free, if I travel, sing to the right.” This was believed to guarantee a safe travel for the hunter. To encounter a tigmamanukan was called salubong.
The tikbalang (a.k.a. tigbalang, kuyog) are beings with a horse’s head and a man’s body. They are taller and bigger than an ordinary person, have coal black skin, very long hoofed legs, and bristles on the head – three of which are thicker and have magical properties. The 17th century Spanish missionary Alonso de Mentrida, on the other hand, described the tikbalang based on native accounts as having “a face like a cat’s, with a head that is flattened above, not round, with thick beard, and covered with long hair; his legs are so long that, when he squats on his buttocks, his knees stand a vara above his head; and he is so swift in running that there is no quadruped that can be compared with him.”
Tikbalangs also possess incredible strength, agility, and the power of invisibility.
Arrogant and playful in nature, tikbalangs often play pranks on those who have entered their territory or because of a mere whim, usually making one lose his way or walk in circles. Some pranks are so severe, victims end up insane or ill to the point of death. Even the mere appearance of a tikbalang is said to make one lose his mind.
Many believe that whoever succeeds in plucking a tikbalang’s magical bristles, the creature will become his servant and grant his wishes.
Having the ability to disguise themselves as humans, they appear as tall, slim men wearing salakot (traditional circular, wide hat) with a native woven bag on their back while munching on a bamboo twig in their mouth. It is believed that rain during a sunny day means a maiden is being wed to a tikbalang.
Folklore concerning the tiktik is widespread in the Philippines, therefore, the creature’s characteristics vary from one tale to another. In some anecdotes, the tiktik is a variant of the aswang that lives as a normal person by day but turns into a huge, black bird after dark and preys on the child inside a pregnant woman’s womb or on a bedridden sick person. It inserts through a hole on the roof or through the window its long, hollow, and pointed tongue which could become as thin as thread. The tongue pierces the sleeping victim’s womb through the navel and sucks the fetus’s blood or digests the child itself and sucks it out like drinking through a straw. It uses the same tongue to suck the life force of a sick person. In other tales, the tiktik reverts to its human form upon landing on a prospective victim’s roof. Its name is said to be derived from the sound it makes. There is a belief that when the tiktik’s shriek is loud, it’s still far away; but when its sound grows faint, it means it’s nearby. Also, gusts of wind despite a calm weather indicates that it’s on the prowl. In other areas the tiktik is a black bird that serves the aswang, helping the latter locate potential victims, hence, the name which in Tagalog means “spy.” This bird alights on the roof of potential victims and calls for its master. One legend, however, says that the tiktik is an enemy of the aswang. Its cries warn the people that an aswang is nearby.
The Manobo believe the timbusaw is an ogre-like spirit – tall, hairy, and has large claws – that devours the souls of sleeping persons, especially hunters who sleep in the jungle. A person whose soul has been eaten by the timbusaw lives a normal life for a few days but will be found dead in his sleep later.
The timu-timu is an ape-like giant deep in the forests of Iloilo. Its mouth can gape so wide it can swallow a man whole.
The tirtiris of Ilocano folklore are wee folk smaller than a human hand. Their teeth have gold fillings and they wear silk clothes embroidered with gold thread. Friendly to humans, they are often seen in groups, dancing and merry-making in the evening at a friend’s backyard. They are generous and give rice to people they like. When wronged, they cause the offender to have sore eyes or skin rashes.
Bicolano, Ilocano, and Tagalog folklore describe the tiyanak (also spelled, tianak) as a small, bald-headed old man with wrinkled skin, bloodshot eyes, pointed teeth, pointed ears, and small horns. Its right leg is absurdly longer than its left leg, making it difficult for the creature to walk, thus, it hops when on the move. It disguises itself as a baby abandoned in the field or in the woods. It attracts people with its infant-like wails and when a person picks it up, the creature reverts to its hideous form and mauls the victim until he is dead. In other tales, the tiyanak prefers to prey on women, especially those who breastfeed. Disguised as a plump baby wailing in hunger, the woman who finds the tiyanak is moved to breastfeed it, only to have her blood sucked dry by the creature. With the woman dead, the tiyanak turns into a black bird and flies away.
The tiyanak is known as patianak and tumanod among the ancient Mandaya and Tagalog folk respectively, muntianak among the Bagobo people, and mantianak among the Tagakalao people in Davao.
The tiyu-an is a flightless fetus-eater originating from Capiz. She compensates her lack of flight with the ability to leap on great heights. This enables her to jump onto rooftops with ease and undetected. All tiyu-an are female. A tiyu-an keeps a puppy or puppies that never grow old. These puppies, which are passed down by her parents, are in fact her masters and she their servant, as they are the source of her powers. She also has a familiar in the form of a small black bird. Guided by the black bird, she sets out on foot to a prospective victim’s house. Using her long, proboscis-like tongue, she will penetrate a sleeping pregnant woman’s womb and suck the fetus’s blood. She may dissolve the fetus if the victim is in the early stage of her pregnancy. The tiyu-an also feeds off the life force of sick or dying people. Some tiyu-an have the ability to transform into black pigs.
A tiyu-an chilling out on someone’s roof.
According to Visayan folklore, the todtod or tod-tod is a tall, hairy man in the woods, whose teeth have two pairs of fangs (two above, two below). One of his arms is as hard as stone (like that of Hellboy) and he carries a small golden hammer. The todtod has the ability to make people get lost in the woods. Clever individuals, however, could steal his golden hammer but he will stalk them without end until they are forced to return the said implement.
Maranao folks believe a tonong is a nature spirit that accompanies and guides a deserving person upon his birth and for the rest of his life. This spirit keeps the person company at all times, warns him of impending danger, and helps him during conflicts. A tonong is also the source of a person’s amazing abilities. It usually stands behind the person, by his left shoulder near the left ear so it can whisper easily.
There are three kinds of tonong: those in the clouds, those on top of trees, and those in the water. The tonong that inhabit water are called diwata.
According to Central Panay folks, a tulayhang resembles an umang-umang (a species of hermit crab). It lives underground on riverbanks where it burrows a hole. Some tulayhang are pets of the engkanto and whoever disturbs them will suffer a terrible illness.
Negritos of the Zambales Range believe the tulung or tuwung is a being with a horse-like head similar to the tikbalang. What sets the tulung apart from the tikbalang is that instead of hooves, it has clawed feet and a very large penis and testicles. It is said to reside in the forest surrounding Mount Pinatubo.
According to Manobo belief, the tuno are forest-dwelling giants. The lower parts of their bodies from the waist down are either that of a deer or a boar. Those with deer lower parts are benevolent while those with boar lower parts are evil.
The tupong-tupong is a humanoid creature in ancient Bicolano folklore that can stretch its body. A tupong-tupong can be as tall as a tree or as short as a child if it wanted to.
The tuya are giant people in ancient Karay-a folklore in Iloilo.
Found in Iluko folklore, especially in Pangasinan, the ugaw are people only as big as the human thumb and are seldom seen because they move so fast. It is believed they are beings from another realm. They are notorious for stealing rice from granaries or human habitations with abundant supply of rice. When containers for storing rice aren’t secured properly in the night, the ugaw would definitely raid these and take away the rice down to the last grain, leaving empty containers before sunrise. Despite such notoriety, the ugaw are kind to those who have earned their favor. They roam carrying kadus (a bag or sack made from cloth and sewn by hand) filled with riches which they give to deserving individuals. If an ugaw is caught by a person, the former will offer riches to its captor in exchange for its freedom.
Ukbar is an entity revered by some of the aswang in Samar.
The uko or oko of Luzon are ape-like creatures the size of men. They live as a pack in caves and are notorious for abducting and eating individuals who stray near their territory.
The ukoy or syokoy are hideous humanoids that inhabit lakes, rivers, streams, and the sea in various parts of the Philippines. The popular one is the creature with the head of a fish, scaly body, can appear as a handsome youth or a familiar guy, and impregnates women. The other one is somewhat like an octopus. Some are small but possess superhuman strength. This variant loses strength outside its habitat. The ukoy are said to be responsible for the death of those who swim in bodies of water for supposedly venturing near their territory. Known as ugkoy among the Waray, they drag people by their feet into the water. They are glimpsed in the river during floods.
The umangob of Ifugao folklore is a large, dog-like creature that eats only the thumbs and big toes of fresh corpses. Upon smelling the scent of death, the umangob tracks down the newly-deceased and when the corpse is unattended during a wake, the creature gets near it ans bites off the thumbs and big toes. To discourage the umangob from getting near the corpse, relatives watch over the dead. Lights are also placed around the corpse, since these are believed to fend off the creature.
The ungga-ungga or unga-unga of Visayas and Mindanao (known as wuwug or wowog in Bohol) is a self-segmenting viscera-sucker similar in appearance to the penanggal or penanggalan of Indonesia and Malaysia. By day she is a normal woman but after dark, her head along with her glistening entrails detaches from her body and hovers off to look for pregnant women to feed on. She is propelled in the air by her rotating or undulating intestines, which make a whirring sound. She uses her elongated, proboscis-like tongue to suck the fetus or the blood of a baby or even the innards of a grown-up. When not hunting for pregnant women, an ungga-ungga attacks individuals who are still out in the dark. She has strong, wire-like hair which could strangle or suffocate her victim. She may even lift her victim and drop him to his death. An ungga-ungga won’t go near a house surrounded by bamboo groves, fearing that her hair and entrails might get entangled with the thorns and brambles.
In Western Visayan folktales, the ungloc is portrayed as a black-complexioned ogre with long, pointed teeth and lives in a cave in the mountains. The ungloc can talk and understands human language but is stupid enough to be fooled by a child. When it succeeds in catching a child, it uses magic to trap the hapless youngster in a coconut fruit.
An ungo in Visayan folklore, is a person possessed by a supernatural force which attacks him from time to time, causing him to change his form. When he becomes a monster he eats viscera and drinks human blood.
Widespread in the Visayas, the wak-wak may appear after dark as a large bat-like creature, a black-skinned and hideous-looking person with huge leathery wings, or a plain person with a wild look in its eyes and hair that stand on end. When it flies, the flapping of its wings generate gusts of wind strong enough to shake tree branches. It confuses people of its presence by making a faint sound as if it is far away when in fact it is nearby. Aside from hunting for pregnant women to feed on their yet to be born children, it ambushes persons who are alone outdoors at night. It lashes and secures itself on the back of a person by wrapping its legs tightly around the victim’s waist while attempting to strangle him.
The wirwir are nomadic corpse-eaters in Apayao belief. They hunt far and wide, in groups, from one place to another in search of cadavers to eat. They fend off other ghouls from the cemetery or burial grounds they find.
In Manobo belief, the yamud are freshwater diwata that appear similar to mermaids. They inhabit underwater caves, deep pools in rivers, lakes and streams, and serve as guardians of fishes and the bodies of water they inhabit. They are very illusive. When offended they cause people to drown.
Anima, Nid. Witchcraft Filipino-Style. Omar Publications, 1978
Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore. McFarland, 2016
Blare and Robertson, eds. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898. Cleveland, Ohio, 1903-09.
Blumentritt, Fernando. Diccionario Mitologico de Filipinas, 1895
Cole, Fay-Cooper. Traditions of the Tinguian: A Study in Philippine Folklore. Field Museum of Natural History, 1915
Coronel, Delia. The Maranao and Nature, 1994
Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.
Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. The Flood Motif and the Symbolism of Rebirth in Filipino Mythology. In Dundes, Alan (ed.) The Flood Myth, University of California Press, Berkeley and London, 1988.
Gardner, Fletcher (Trans.). Philippine Folklore. Palm Tree Press, San Antonio, Texas, 1941.
Gibson, T. Sacrifice and Sharing in the Philippine Highlands (London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology,n.57); The Athlone Press: London, UK, 1986.
Lambrecht, Godfrey. Philippine Studies Vol. 7, no. 2: 194–218. Ateneo de Manila University, 1959.
Madale, Abdullah T. The Maranaos: Dwellers of the Lake. Rex Bookstore, 1997
Magos, Alicia P. Seven Layers of the Panayanon Universe. Iloilo: A
Rich and Noble Land, 2007.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. 1999
Mentrida, Alonso de. Diccionario de la Lengua Bisaya, Hiligueina y Haraya, 1841
Placencia, Juan de. Custombres de los Tagalos, 1589
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore. Philippine Folklore Society, 1971
____________________. The Creatures of Midnight. Phoenix Publishing, 1990
____________________. Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. University of the Philippines Press, 1971
Serag, Sebastian. The Remnants of the Great Ilonggo Nation. Rex Book Store, 1997
Torres-Campos, Felicisima. Mga Ginto sa Iloilo. Apostol Printers
Wallace, Ben J. Weeds, Roads, and God: A Half-Century of Culture Change among the Philippine Ga’dang. Waveland Press, 2012.
Inquisitor Sir Bouleville from the PSICOM Publishing Forums
BY ERWIN S. CABARLES