The Philippine Isles has always possessed a thriving and serious respect for the supernatural. The tracks of an idly fleeing wild boar or the sound of flapping wings are transformed into chilling tales of the unexplained. Every barrio and province have their favorite (or dreaded) spirit. The place where a person succumbed to sickness or the house of which someone died was soon caught in a gathering mist of suspicious rumors. All it took was one reliable witness, swearing total sobriety to say he or she witnessed a malevolent being. The following are the names of mythical creatures that haunt our nightmares, grappling our imagination and causing a ripple up our spine long after the lights have been turned off.
Glossary Of Mythical Philippine Creatures & Beings
Agalon Hayopan – Are individuals are what may be termed as inactive asuangs. They prefer to live right by the river where crocodiles are plentiful. They desire to eat human flesh but to satisfy their cravings they employ crocodiles to kill people and discreetly bring their flesh to them.
Agta – Also known as “pugot” or “sinandapi.” A harmless being unless provoked. It appears as a tall, black hairy man who dwells in caves, uninhabited buildings or on top santol, tamarind and lomboy trees. Sometimes seen wearing black or white priest like robes but can take the form of animals, such as dogs, goats and etc. When frightened or angered they throw stones at houses. Their horrific apparitions have caused fatal heart attacks to some of its beholders.
Anito – Otherwise known as “mamangkiks” or “cancaniaos” and share the characterisitics of the “matanda sa punso” – spirits in the mound. They posses the ability to inflict boils and sickness on anyone who bothers them. When walking through unfamiliar routes people say “ tabi-tabi po…makikiraan lang.” ( Sir, please move aside I’m just passing through.) Children often fall victims to their anger as they accidentally bump into them while playing. Parents of inflicted kids, leave offerings of fruit under the tree or near a mound of earth ”punso” seeking to appease the invisible spirits. Permission is also sought before cutting down trees in the forest.
Asuang or bruha – Is an ordinary witch or sorcerer who can be a woman or a man. This person can change into the form of a black cat, pig, dog or a bird with blood shot eyes. At night, they lurk behind bushes waiting for a lonely wayfarer. When a victim is spotted, it appears out of nowhere in the middle of the road intent on overpowering its victim. The aswang drags its hunted prey into a secret lair, gorging on the victim’s liver and blood. However, they cannot lift anybody who carries a coin. One centavo is enough to make the aswang’s plans a failure. Garlic is the bitterest foe of aswangs, the sight of it causes them to flee.
Amanhig – Is the spirit of a dead miser suffering from an untimely death. He cannot rest in peace unless given a proper burial and bestowing his wealth to another person. His spirit is bound to his earthly treasure and therefore keeps watch over his old abode. Described as a tall and lean walking cadaver with big sunken eyes. It is believed that once the amanhig gets wet, the body is changed into worms; and only when the worms come back together can it transform itself to its previous shape. The spirit is harmless but will test one’s bravery. Once one passes the test, the creature will ask you to bury him and during the process reveal his treasure’s location. Running away from the amanhig only causes the creature to pursue you, but facing it without fear will reap a bountiful reward.
Bagat– A spirit prone to pranks and mischief. Taking the form of an animal on dark moonless nights it appears to those who are afraid of creatures that go bump in the night; leaving startled spectators frightened to the bones, terrorized and scared stiff.
Cafre – A harmless spirit who takes the form of a very white tall man with a long beard. Favoring to live around dark big houses or in sit in the branches of tall leafy trees – like the mango, sampalok or balete. At night if you smoke coming from the middle of a tree, chances are it is the cafre enjoying his tobacco. It is believed that cafres are afraid of goats and will not disturb anyone unless provoked.
Diwata or Engkantada –The most famous ones are Maria Makiling and the engkantada of Mount Apo. A beautiful lady with long hair and supernatural powers. To have one as friend ensures a rich and prosperous life to have one as an enemy ensures a life of poverty, struggle and misery.
Dwende – ” Kaibaan, “lulid,” “cama-cama,” or “nuno sa punso” are just a few of its names. They are small creatures, about the size of one year old child. They live under a small mound of dirt “punso.” On a full moon, one can sometimes see them in the shadows or hear their mystical music playing. They are harmless creatures who befriend virtuous humans to whom they render invaluable services such as providing information, warnings about potential danger and endowing beloved friends with precious gifts. They can also create mischief, cause havoc and can be dangerous if provoked to anger.
Mananangal – The most feared Filipino creature; also known as wak-wak in the Bisayan dialect. Common people believe the wak-wak is always a woman. Between six or seven o’clock at night this creature finds a secret place near her home. She bends her body down while her legs remain rigid and straight; her hair becomes stiff and nails turn into long sharp claws; her eyes grow bigger and eerily glows; while large bat-like wings protrude from her body echoing the sound “wak-wak-wak” as it flies along. It preys on the livers of the sick and disobedient children who refuse to come indoors at twilight. They are especially fond of developing babies in their mother’s womb; whose blood is sucked by using its tongue as a threadlike proboscis which enters through the mother’s navel. Vigilant eyes, garlic and a pair of scissors or thorny branches should be kept beside a pregnant woman at all times.
Multo – This is the soul of unpardoned dead who will wander on the earth unless the living intercede to secure the pardon of God through constant praying. The smell of burning candles indicate their presence day or night. Reputed to assail the living, with red and painful bruises. To protect oneself from its harm, moving your hands wildly and uttering phrases and prayers from the Bible will cause it to leave.
Santilmo – According to Boholanos, they believe it is the lost souls of people who drowned at sea. It usually appears during rainy nights as a large bright orange orb. Notorious for hypnotizing its victim and leading them to a path of death. Throwing a lemon or anything sour like vinegar will cause it to disappear and protect you from its bewitching spell.
Sinan Baboy – Are dangerous beings resembling a wild pig, usually found under mango trees. It first appears as a tiny animal and suddenly gets bigger and bigger. They like to pass through the legs of their victims for several times, suddenly increasing in size and height and eventually trampling their victims to a tortured demise.
Sirena – This capricious female deity can be wicked to the core or extremely kindhearted. They are characterized by their long black hair, bewitching voice, beautiful facial features and a strong fish like odor. Appearing in human form, they come on land during fiestas and Holy Week. They are afraid of salt, steel, silver or gold as it can inflict a mortal wound on their scaly bodies. Innocent swimmers, presumably drowned are dragged to its underwater abode. If captured by one, she will offer you fish to eat; accepting her offer will bring you instant death. Refusing her offer increases your chance for freedom and perhaps a lavish gift of precious jewels.
Tama-wo – Also known as “lomon” or “mamao.” Witnesses describe them as tall in stature, white skin and very attractive in appearance. Balete trees mark the entrance to their mysterious and invisible palaces. They are attracted to humans with a pure heart and will entice their paramour to a life of immortality by inviting them to eat rice that moves like tiny worms. The tama-wo’s are kind, generous and protective spirits. They have been known to attack thieves and other evil doers.
Tik-tik –Is a male aswang. Its name is derived from the very noise it makes at night. Common people belive this is the asuang turned into a night bird. They are known to perch on top houses with pregnant mothers and the sick.
Tikbalang – A creature with extremely long legs in proportion to its body that when it sits down, the knees tower over its head. The upper half resembles a horse. It has three coarse stiff hairs on the top of its head; anyone successful in acquiring the three hairs will have the tikbalang as his personal slave for life. They are strong and fast creatures who abhor the sight of children, dead or alive…they steal the bodies of dead children and bury them deep in the ground. They are harmless and will rather flee than fight but would inflict vomiting to those that mock him.
Tiyanak – Known to mimic the cry of a baby lost in the forest. Sympathetic travelers often stray from their path, trying to locate this supposedly abandoned baby and eventually get lost in the forest. At night, if one listens carefully, you can distinctly hear the malevolent laughter of this creature resonating in the forest. Travelers can avoid falling prey to the tiyanak’s wiles by wearing his shirt backwards and ignoring its misleading cries.