Supernatural Philippines: Growing Up in the Shadows

Creatures of Philippine Mythology

Supernatural Philippines: Growing Up in the Shadows

Although I was born and raised in Manila, I grew up hearing a lot of creepy stories from people around me, mostly my parents and neighbors who immigrated from the provinces. Superstition was as much a part of Philippine culture as the ubiquitous jeepney and I’ve had my fair share of superstitious beliefs I acquired during those times.

Belief in the supernatural runs in our family just like most other people I know yet I never spoke about it outside the house. Back in those days when the slumping Philippine economy meant 12 hour blackouts were the norm, listening to creepy stories by candle light was one of my more engaging past times, well that is, after the brownouts made a fishkill out of my humble, oxygen deprived aquarium fishes.

“The Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology” by Maximo D. Ramos.

It wasn’t all new age for me though. I also grew up reading science books and watching David Attenborough’s  Life on Earth series since I was 4 or 5 I think. For some weird reason, I did not believe this conflicted with our belief that we had little friends inside the house.

Crazy as it sounds, my parents, with the suggestion of a medium-friend named Rose, told us that we have 2 little white dwarves living with us. A boy and a girl. Me and my siblings were told that we should invite those two little people whenever we’re eating, and that having them on our side would bring us good luck.

Sometimes, we were encouraged to actually leave food on strategic places inside the house to appease the dwarves when someone gets sick. If the dwarves accepted the offer, you’d know it because the food will be gone when you come back to check it. One time though, my mom caught Rose eating the food offerings.

That was the last time I saw her. That was also the last time I whispered an invite to our “dwarves.”

In retrospect, the whole affair was a sham but getting to know Rose and other faith healers/medium introduced me to the world of the supernatural — and Fake Healers. This was the first time I heard about the “Third Eye,” the “Laman Lupa(s)” (nature elementals), “Duwende(s)”(dwarves), “Aswang(s)” ( Vampires / ghouls / shapeshifters ) and “Kulam” (witchcraft).

All throughout the whole experience, I was going to a Catholic School and we went to church every Sunday just like every good Catholic. There never was a conflict between our chosen faith and the strange things we believe in.

As for me, I believed some of the stories but I questioned most of them, especially those dwarves because I never saw them or felt their presence unlike what the people around me claim. Sure, I have poor eyesight but that shouldn’t stop me from experiencing them if they really exist, thinking in retrospect.

As for the other stories, some of them are first hand accounts from my parents, which I always questioned from a rational perspective. even though all through the years, their stories never changed in the slightest.

Most of these stories would range from encounters with strange cryptids like “Kapre“(ogre), “Manananggal” (half-bodied viscera sucker) to strange phenomena like the “Santelmo“ (Saint Elmo’s Fire), demonic apparitions and spirits and ghosts.

Their stories were mostly mentioned in passing but some were only revealed after intense cajoling from me and my two elder sisters. I would never be in a position to judge whether what they experienced was true or not but some of their stories would send a chill up my spine even now that I’m older and a lot more skeptical. If only for purposes of entertainment and cultural insight, I’d preserve these myths and stories in this blog.

And did my parents believe what they saw? They say they did, but they told us to be more afraid of people with guns because they’re infinitely a lot more dangerous.

Published on : 28/01/2018 by Puerto Parrot

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