(Last updated: 20 October 2016)
NOTE: This post will be updated if I come across another creature or entity not yet included in this list. This post is subject to correction.
The following are the creatures, beings, and entities found in various folktales and mythology stories all over the Philippines as taken from many sources such as posts on the internet, books, and stories from individuals. These creatures and beings have a link to our beliefs and traditions which in turn affect our way of life. When I was a kid I was fascinated with stories involving such beings and entities and started researching on them ever since. A chance encounter with something supernatural when I was in my junior year in high school strengthened my interest with Philippine folklore and mythology. 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. I’ve excluded popular characters such as Maria Makiling, Teniente Gimo, Tarabusaw, etc. because they belong to some of the listed beings below (e.g.: Maria Makiling is a diwata).
The abat or awok is a variant of the manananggal from some parts of Visayas, especially among the Waray. It doesn’t grow wings on its back, instead, its arms are the ones that turn into leathery bat-like wings. Its big, fiery eyes 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 do 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 feast on the victim’s meat.
Waray folklore describes them as attractive-looking men and women in their early twenties often seen barefoot; although it is said they are actually small in size. They have golden to blond hair, deep-set eyes of blue, green, or brown, and high bridged noses. The trees serve as their gateway to the human world. They come out after dark and call their human friends through whistles. They will only enter a friend’s house if they are invited. They are good at finding lost things belonging to friends but often use this skill to test their friends’ honesty. An aghoy will present to a friend an object of great value, pretending it has no idea what the missing object is. An honest friend is rewarded with a magic purse that never runs out of gold while a dishonest one is abandoned forever, never to see the aghoy again. Sometimes aghoy play pranks on their friends by changing their positions while they are asleep.
A huge black being according to Waray lore. It’s active during dark hours between 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., wandering alone or standing still in a particular place or following people. In other times it’s seen smoking a tinostos (cigar). The agta sometimes plays pranks on people like toppling trees on the path of travelers or steal clothes and firewood. It lures women with a shower of petals to abduct them for its personal entertainment.
In Western Visayas, the agta are small man-like creatures with very dark complexion. They could only be seen by bending over and looking down backward between the open legs. The agta are fond of children and beautiful women. Sometimes, they help fishermen by revealing spots in the river or sea where fish are plenty.
Believed by Ilocanos as spirit doubles of people, the alalia or al-alia manifest during a person’s death as the groans of the dying, the cracking of glass, the rattling of beds, or the banging of doors. These 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 souls of the deceased or suffer misfortunes.
They are also known as bambanig in other areas.
The alan of Tinguian folklore are humanoid in appearance but have winged arms and skin as tough as carabao hide. They spend much of their time hanging upside-down from trees deep in the forest with their backward-pointing, clawed feet tightly holding onto a branch, waiting for a potential prey to pass below. Although known to prey on people, they sometimes keep and raise children who strayed into their domain or infants left in the forest. They are capable of creating a child out of blood from miscarriages or menstruation or discarded placenta. They collect items that belonged to their victims, which they store in jars.
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. 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 human.
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 because their main source of food are human corpses.
According to Waray and Western Visayan folklore, the amalanhig or maranhig (a.k.a. amamanhig/ amaranhit) are flightless aswang that came back to life after death. They rise from their grave after failing to pass their power to a relative. Upon rising from the grave, these amalanhig lurk in the woods and live as blood suckers. At night they go to nearby villages to prey on the residents using their sharp, pointed tongue.
Aside from the amalanhig of aswang origins, some deceased humans could also turn into amalanhig. These are people who died with an unfinished business or were murdered and came back for revenge. The amalanhig with unfinished business are relentless in pursuing the persons they have chosen to fulfill their goals. Avenging amalanhig, on the other hand, tickle their victims to death while sucking their life force.
They also mimic the words of the persons they encounter. Their presence is usually detected through the stench of their rotting flesh.
The amalanhig have stiff legs that can’t bend. The aswang amalanhig, however, are still fast and can’t be outrun. If an amalanhig chases you, climb a crooked tree to prevent the creature from catching you. You can also jump into the river or any body of water since these are known to keep the amalanhig at bay. Water can turn an amalanhig into a heap of worms and maggots that must be destroyed before they could form back into the creature.
According to one legend, a long time ago before the Spaniards came to the Philippines a chieftain ordered his priestess to create an army of warriors that couldn’t be killed. These immortals were created by killing ordinary men and encrusting their bodies with dark soot, putting a strange pebble in their mouths, and doing other rituals. After three days they came back to life but they were mindless, walking corpses that only died after accomplishing their task.
Amalanhig means “stiff one”.
These pinading in Sagada assume the form of pythons on trees held sacred by the natives. They could kill by constriction anyone foolish enough to desecrate their abode.
According to Negros Occidental folks, these are large, monkey-like but tailless beasts with sharp claws. Some accounts allege these creatures 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”.
Like the manananggal, the anananggal of Visayas and Bicol separate at the waist but don’t have wings. Instead of flying, they float or levitate. When not on the hunt for people at night and the wee hours, they enter a wake unseen (invisible) and sniff the corpse to their satisfaction like ghouls.
The Buid 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. 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 will suck 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 the Gaddang, 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.
A creature with the upper body – torso, arms, hands, and head – of a woman while the lower half is the body and legs of a horse-like creature (like a centaur). Those who have allegedly seen it say the anggitay has a single horn on the forehead. She is only seen when it suddenly rains on a sunny day. 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 then turned into a tree. The creature is spooked away with noise created by striking the sides of a boat.
A bearded giant eighteen or twenty feet tall, the ani-ani of Zambal lore 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.
The apadel or kabagaang (a.k.a. kalagang), according to the Tinguian, are spirits that dwell in peculiar-shaped stones called pinaing which are found under trees or along rivers or streams.
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. Fearful maidens keep it at bay by wearing a necklace of garlic or crocodile teeth. Among the Gaddang, 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 die sooner or later.
The Maranao 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”.
Distinct from ordinary cannibals, the aswang are men and women who prey on people using 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 a combination of the words asin (salt) and bawang (garlic), items used to fend off the dreaded creatures. Others contest that aswang was 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 also suggests that aswang takes root from the god of evil Asuan or Asuang. 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, its called 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. During ancient times the aswang were also known as alok in some parts of Visayas.
ASWANG NA GALA (wandering aswang)
Being psychic vampires, the aswang na gala feed off the energy 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 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 or aswang sa talon of the Visayas forests is a very ancient being. 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. 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.
Fair complexioned humanoid beings about three feet tall with bulging eyes, long pointed ears, red curly hair, and big bellies. According to a lore in La Union, the atros come out during new moon and full moon nights as a large parading group while riding horse-like beasts. Their arrival is preceded by the sound of drums from a distance. People who hear these drums hide in their houses 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 no means of getting indoors immediately, he must lie down with his belly on the ground to prevent the atros from seeing him. Others believe wearing hats render people invisible to the atros.
In Western Visayan folklore, the bagat are either aswang or other supernatural beings that turn into fantastic or terrifying creatures to scare or waylay travelers anytime they want. Some may even chase the terrified victim just for the fun of it. One way to discourage a bagat is to it one and bite its thumb hard until it begs to be freed.
Some bagat, who 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.
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 leads 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 spat on a person’s food or into the mouth or ear of a sleeping individual.
In Ifugao lore, the bakayauwan are benevolent mountain spirits that appear as hunters in the forest. They fly instead of walking and help human hunters who deserve their generosity.
The bakunawa is a gigantic, flying serpentine creature believed to cause the eclipse by swallowing either the sun or the moon. According to a legend, the world once had seven moons. One day a group of islanders slaughtered the bakunawa’s sister, a gigantic sea turtle, for fear that it might submerge their island one day because every time it went on land, huge tides followed. The bakunawa, who lived in the sea as a powerful mermaid, was furious with her sister’s death. To exact revenge, she swallowed the people’s beacons in the night, the seven moons, one by one in the form of a huge serpent. When she was about to swallow the last moon, the masked goddess Haliya intervened, assisted by her human followers who made raucous sounds and played music which distracted and spooked the bakunawa. Frustrated, the bakunawa dived back into the ocean but was unable to assume her mermaid form as a punishment for consuming the other moons. It is said she will only return to her former shape if she behaved and did not attempt to swallow the last moon. Today, superstitious folks still associate the eclipse to the bakunawa. The word bakunawa may have been derived from banakaua which in turn originated from tambanakaua, a much older belief from the southern regions of the Philippines concerning the cause of eclipses.
The balbal is a corpse-eater in Tagbanua lore. I 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.
Tausugs 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.
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 to up a tree as offering to the creature saying: “This is for thee.” The balendik is possibly related to the tikbalang.
A creature that eats babies.
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 only 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.
The bantay is a giant white rooster that appears early in the morning, at high noon, and before nightfall. Aside from frequenting bridges and rivers, it is also tasked by the lord of the encanto to observe the activities of his subjects in the human realm, especially of those disguised as humans.
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 the Ilocano, 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 abode deep in the forest. There the abducted is locked up like a prized possession and forced to entertain the baras.
Not much is known about the batanguon except that they are said to be ugly and poorly-dressed fairies. Some who claim to have encountered these beings describe them as girls in their early teenage years with disheveled hair, soot-covered skin, and dressed in tattered rags without any shoes or sandals.
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 encanto.
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. Dressed only in lioncloths, they are sometimes seen smoking huge pipes while seated on a tree branch.
Bekat was a giant woman who dwelt in a cave in the Mountain Province. Isneg folktale relates that she had a keen sense of smell for meat, her favorite food. She knew if a hunter was carrying meat nearby. It is said she tricked hunters in order to steal the meat of their kill. She loved to cook meat along with rice in large pots in her cave.
According to the Sulod tribe in Panay Island the bentohangin are half-human, half-horse-like creatures similar to the centaurs of Greek mythology. But unlike their Greek counterparts, these creatures have horse-like heads and can 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 natives of Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Norte fear the big and amphibious berberoka that lurks in ponds. It lures victims by exposing a multitude of fish in the shallows after sucking the water in. When someone wades in to catch the fish the berberoka releases the water back into the pond to overwhelm the person. The victim either drowns to death and then eaten or is devoured alive.
The binaliw or tigbaliw 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 which runs from its head all the way down its back, 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 the Gaddang, 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 creature in Ifugao folklore. Disguised as a hospitable person, it welcomes people who strayed in its domain and gives them excellent native wine until they get drunk. The intoxicated victims are butchered and cooked in a pot.
This creature from Marano 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 is a self-segmenter in Ilocos said to retain her beauty even after transforming into an eagle-winged manananggal-like creature at night. But do not be fooled by her beauty because she’s as vicious as her cousins, often attacking lone travelers and carrying off children.
In other stories she is described as having the four legs of a dog, a woman’s face, and eagle’s wings. Her name is derived from the Spanish bruja which means “witch”.
BRUKA The bruka of Isinay lore is a spirit with red skin and dressed in red. It either possesses people or takes the form of a person and kills sleeping individuals to eat their flesh and innards.
An aggressive kind of aswang, the bubuu deceives people of its presence by making a sound similar to that of a hen laying eggs. The clueless victim is tackled and overpowered. Before taking the hapless person to its home, the bubuu will create an exact likeness of its victim from a banana trunk or other plant materials and send it to the victim’s home. Upon arriving home, the victim’s copy gets sick and dies later while the bubuu will butcher and eat the real victim.
According to Tiruray belief, the bulalu talun is an evil spirit that lurks in the forest and feeds on human flesh.
In Tagalog folklore, the bungisngis is a grinning one-eyed giant with large teeth and two tusks that protrude from the sides of its mouth. It has loose lips – the lower lip dangles while the upper lip tends to cover its eyes when it laughs. Its thighs are extremely long that when it squats the knees are two spans higher than its shoulders. It dwells in the forest and loves to eat carabao. In most stories the bungisngis is portrayed as a dumb creature. In northern Davao, it is known as mahentoy while in Tayabas, Quezon it 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 glowing, snow-white hide and usually seen running on the surface of the water during a rain or a storm. When disturbed, a bunog will attack and sink a boat.
The buringkantada are hairy human-like giants in Bicol. Making contact with their black, spiny hair will result to unbearable itch. On moonlit nights some of them leave their lair in the swamp or in the mountains to hunt for food – mainly animals. The buringkantada have their own spoken language. They usually avoid humans whom they believe are a violent race.
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 meteors. 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 the 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 or busaw 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 go after the people, slaughtering with iron axes and machetes. They pile the bones of their victims under their dwellings. Having matulus or magical powers, they can 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 thrown 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 malign carangat or caranget are feared most by the Gaddang. These diminutive spirits are often invisible but when seen they are described as having long and sharp pointed teeth. They can assume other forms and are very aggressive without provocation. This is their nature because they are regarded as the true owners of the land and may do as they please with the tenants (the people). Their habitations include trees, especially the balete and samalagad, riverbed boulders, wells, and under the ground 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 pay the rent (make an offering) sick.
A carangat will also lurk in a village disguised as a chicken or a post in search of a soul to steal. Anyone it touches becomes sick, insane, and would die if not treated with a ritual.
When a sick person is diagnosed as a victim of the carangat, a ritual is performed where the healer offers a bilateral agreement to the spirits, saying: “You, carangat, shall give back the soul you took hold of or you shall protect this household and its offspring. We on our side will pay our dues by giving you a feast, we will kill a pig for you and offer you all those little things you are fond of: rice cakes, tobacco, betel nuts, gin. Moreover, we will make it clear that these offerings are not intended as a mere exchange, which would not impose any further obligations, for we will cut off a small piece from the vital parts of the pig(s) and prepare these for you. We will, in other words, perform the uali rite, and this shall be the authentic sign of our bilateral contract.”
In Isabela, the chief of all carangat is called Dumadaga whose name signifies increase or bounty. He has two wives, Siloit whose name is derived from the whizzing noise reeds make when moved to and fro (Siloit is known to make whizzing noise as response to a shaman’s invocation) and Alucasianan whose name means “provided with narrow loins”. Dumadaga’s minister, Adayag or “the wobbling one” is thus named because of his peculiar gait.
A carangat can be killed. A person has to trick it to stuff its mouth, eyes, and ears with a mixture of betel nut, chewing leaves, lime, and water which will boil and choke the carangat to death. However, tricking the carangat is not easy as they are very cunning.
To the Ifugao the carangat are known as 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 encanto that appear as tall, handsome and beautiful mestizos with some having blond hair and blue eyes. Their hidden abode can only be reached through a portal in the dalaket tree. They dress up like ordinary people, some displaying the latest fashion trend, and ride in brand new looking automobiles. The dalaketnon are notorious human abductors. They lure a person to their abode where they hold a feast for him. If he eats the black rice that they offered he will behold their true form – inhuman (not necessarily hideous) beings with white hair, grayish skin, and eyes without pupils (all white). The rice bewitches the victim to stay with them forever as their amusement. When they get tired of him, he becomes a slave or worse turned into a tree. They can manifest tangible illusions of themselves which they use to confuse or disorient people.
People from the Sulod tribe in Panay say the dalongdongan cannot be harmed physically after applying an oil with magical properties called dalongdong all over their body. Any bladed weapon, blunt weapons, and even bullets will 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 stepped on these either became insane or got sick and died.
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 – once a gentle nature spirit – used to live peacefully with humans and taught them how to plant the root crop taro. 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 variant of the aswang known in Panit-an, Capiz. This being is described as a very attractive 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 later. 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 affection”. Agitot, on the other hand, means “flamboyant man” or “gay man”.
According to folklore in Samar and Leyte, a danggab is a person who roams at night and attacks people to eat them (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.
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 or duende are gnome-like creatures living in habitations near those of humans. 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 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. In Western Visayas they are known as kama-kama or camacaon (karay-a term).
In Tinguian lore, the ebwa are corpse-eaters that hunt in pairs or groups. Notorious for stealing corpses in wakes, they are kept at bay by people staying up all night in the wake and by bright lights placed near the corpse. If nine days and nights went by without successfully getting near the deceased, the ebwa loose interest and leave the vicinity. In some cases they stalk the house of a dying person, ready to steal the body after the victim expires.
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.
The term encanto or engkanto was given by the Spanish to the supernatural beings – mostly humanoid – with which the diwata, tamawo, and other elf-like or fairy-like beings belong. They were called encanto (means “one who enchants” or “enchanter”) because most of them attracted their victims through the enchantment of their melodious singing, luring the humans into their hidden abode. There, they entice the visitors to stay forever with lavish parties (think of Circe in Greek mythology) and valuable gifts. 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 encanto’s plain. Some who are eventually allowed to return home look exactly the same or never aged the day they disappeared despite decades of being missing. A female encanto is called encantada (sometimes shortened to ada) while the male is called encantado. It is generally believed that encanto abhor salt, the mere mention of it offends them.
The Tiruray people believe the fagad is some sort of spirit that eats the dead. To keep it at bay from the newly-deceased, a mirror is placed on top of the corpse’s head. When a fagad tries to get near the corpse, it will get spooked by mistaking the corpse as having two faces, forcing it to flee.
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 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 is a Tinguian mythical giant with six heads. It wields a spear and a head-axe the size of half the sky.
In Isneg folklore, Gisurab is a rather dim-witted giant. It willingly cut off its own head when challenged to do so. It lived in a cave in the forest. When very hungry it mistook a person for a pig and ate him on the spot.
The early Waray people called the diwata that inhabited 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.
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 by just 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 in Western Visayas are aswang variants that fly at night with large and very wide, bat-like wings.
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.
According to old folks in Bolinao, the ibawanen is like a witch – a woman with the ability to put anything (usually small objects) in the body of a person to make him sick.
The ibingan is a huge and venomous, many-horned red serpent with a prominent crest on its head and 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 ikki or iqui (also spelled ike) is an ordinary person by day but at night transforms into a winged self-segmenter that leaves its lower legs from the knees down when it flies off. In Quezon province, ikki raid homes, feeding on the sleeping residents or attack travelers, slashing their bodies open and taking home the heart and the liver. While in flight they often let out a frightful shriek. Some say the ikki are exclusively male.
The ikugan of Manobo folklore are ape-like men with large, long tails which they use to hang from trees, lying in wait for prey below. These fierce beasts are said to abduct women and children who strayed in their territory.
Maranaos 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, has long hair, ape-like teeth, long claws, and thick tough skin. Its home is in the mountain and there it makes iron tools. It lures a person into the forest by transforming into the victim’s relative, friend, or acquaintance. When it finds the chance it mauls the victim and devours him/her.
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 of Nueva Vizcaya say the itirong are men with long tails. These creatures attack people in the forest and eat them. Manobos 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.
The kagkag are corpse-eaters in Romblon. They live in the woods far away from villages. They seek corpses in other places to avoid competition with other ghouls. At night they listen for the groans of the dying or the wails of the dead’s relative by placing their ears at the mouth of a mortar. Some crouch down on the ground to listen for death. They set out in groups to hunt for cadavers. Upon finding a fresh corpse they steal it and the ghouls converge and celebrate in a festive manner (some whoop while others beat bones and skulls like drums) in a secluded place, after which they consume their quarry laid on a banana leaf.
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 spirits or ghosts of the dead, the kalag (sometimes spelled calag) in Sugbuhanon and Waray folklore are spirits used as accomplices by mang-aawog sorcerers. A kalag makes sure the mang-aawog’s spell takes effect. After a victim dies, the kalag will arrive at his wake and burst open his belly by touching it.
The Zambals believe the kamanan-daplak are tiny people that reside in trees along rivers and streams. Playful in nature, they call out people’s names after sundown and would laugh while the persons tried in vain to find who called them. They are known to leave flowers at the side of sleeping infants or toddlers left unattended by their parents. Their presence is detected through the sweet smell of flowers.
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.
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/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. Popularly known as “white ladies” in the Philippines, the most famous is the white lady of Balete Drive.
KAPRE or CAFRE
In Tagalog folklore, a kapre is a tall creature with pitch-black skin. It lives in huge trees and smokes tobacco that do not burn out. It can take on various shapes and disappears at will. Although regarded as an evil entity which plays harmful pranks and abducts or rapes women, the kapre can also be friendly towards humans especially those with mental disability. It is said the kapre hate salt. Some say the kapre might have been based on 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”.
Ilocanos believed the karkarma were the spirits or essence of people, which left the body after death and made their 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, the karkarma will inhabit a nearby tree to haunt relatives who failed to visit them on their sickbed, watch over their loved ones, or take care of an unfinished business. These spirits will only move on after a post-funerary offering of food is held for them.
There were cases when a karkarma left the body of a still living person in the form of vapor or an insect. The person won’t die but he will lose his reason sometimes. 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.
The katao or kataw 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 katao have feet instead of tails but they have gills. They are considered as the ruling class among the tubignon (water elementals and supernatural creatures/beings) because they have the ability to control the sea and related elements.
These are anito that take the form of humans and sometimes giants. The katataoan can disappear at will and only reveal themselves to deserving humans. Sometimes they ride a boat that travels in the air to pick up the bodies of those who died.
Ilocanos believe the katataw-an are spirits of deceased unbaptized infants. They are notorious for assaulting newborns.
The Maguindanao people once believed that the monstrous kedu caused an eclipse when it tried to devour the sun or the moon.
The kibaan or kaibaan of Ilocano folklore are only as big as a two-year-old child. Their teeth have gold fillings. They have fair skin, long nose, slant eyes, long hair that reaches down their feet – the toes of which point backward, the ankle forward. At night they hangout certain places specially groves frequented by fireflies where they sing while playing tiny guitars. The area around their dwellings (in trees or weeds) is always swept clean. Spicy odors can be smelled from their domain after sunset. One of their favorites is roasted or boiled yam which they steal from humans if they don’t have one.
They like picking up things (buttons, pins, etc.) discarded or dropped by humans, collecting these inside a big pouch or sack which they carry around when on the hunt for such objects in busy streets. A kibaan whose pouch was stolen or found by a human will give anything or reveal the location of a treasure in exchange for its precious pouch. Some 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.
Male kibaan have a thing for good-looking human women. Some will spend hours staring at the picture of a beautiful woman. They can impregnate female humans.
As believed by Bicolanos, 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, the kimat is a lightning demon and servant of the gods. It appears as a big white dog. When the gods are want to punish people who have violated taboos, the kimat is sent crashing down on the offenders’ house, setting fire on it.
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.
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.
An aswang with very long, disheveled hair which it uses to kill a victim. A kubot’s hair act like tentacles, grabbing or wrapping around the victim (in some cases the hair enters the victim’s orifices) and strangling him/her to death, constricting, or sucking the life force. Its name means “to cling” or “to wrap”. In Bantayan, Cebu it is known as hamok.
In Pampanga, the kulariut or kalariut is an elusive being with big eyes, white beard, and a black furred body. He lives in bamboo groves or in the forest. If a house is located near his home, he quietly observes the household members while they sleep. When he is attracted to a maiden, he will take her to his home against her will.
Before World War 2, three tall persons (two old folks and a young woman) dressed in black, flowing hooded 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.
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 is speculated that most of the houses were destroyed in the war that the trio couldn’t find a proper door to knock on.
In Visayas they were called manoktok while in some areas of the Tagalog Region, Pampanga, and Bicol they were called salut or pestilence and were believed to be spirits of death.
The kumao or kumaw of Zambales were hideous, man-like child abductors. They bled the children to death by pulling out the victims’ fingernails. The kumao would also drag people at night to eat them.
In Ilocos, among the Tinguian, a kumao or kumau 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 people lose their way in the forest.
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, big ears and nose. It inhabits big trees and picks up persons who pass by its abode only to drop them on the ground which often results to injuries. The Tausug believe it also enters people’s dreams and induces nightmares.
According to the myth of ancient Kapampangans, the laho 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 (meaning, “eclipse”) when some “kingdoms” in Luzon became partly Indianized in their beliefs.
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 ugly.
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.
The lampong is an Ilonggot gnome disguised as a one-eyed white deer. Its true appearance is a humanoid creature two feet tall with a 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. It will try to waylay a hunter pursuing a game. When wounded it retaliates by inflicting a fatal illness to the hunter.
The lewenri are encanto in southern Iloilo and in Romblon with semi-glowing skin. They are all men and said to be extremely attractive mestizos often seen wearing white, black, or violet clothes. With their soft voice, the lewenri can lure women to come with them to their abode. The lewenri are known to employ the services of humans when they need something done (e.g.: delivery of goods), which they pay with either gold or silver or human currency. Like most encanto, they hate salt and spices.
In the olden days, the Ifugao and the Kankanaey 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?). In other areas they are called liblibayan.
LIGAW NA TAO
According to Ifugao belief, a humanoid creature that steals children.
Ilocano folktales tell of a diminutive male water spirit that lived in a river (think of the Irish Undine – male version) or the branches of reeds or trees near banks of rivers or streams. Sometimes he went on land disguised as a normal man. Those who cut his trees were punished with illness. Though he can appear as a human, his true nature was 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, 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, the lutao are the reanimated corpses of people who have wronged others when they were still alive. They appear in their funeral dress with their heads turned to one side, revealing that they have broken necks.
The magindara or marindaga are beautiful but vicious mermaids in Bicolano myth. They attack and eat adult persons while they are known to be gentle to children. Their tails look more like those of eels but are covered with colorful and sharp scales. Also called “aswang ng dagat,” they lure fishermen into the water using their sad but enchanting singing or humming. They are associated with rain in the sea, storms, floods, and drought.
The magkukutud is a self-segmenting flier in Kapampangan folklore similar in appearance to the manananggal. Its only difference is that it lays eggs which when cracked open contain human body parts and organs. It also digs out freshly-buried cadavers which it takes home to cook.
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 from Catanduanes is a person who, at night, detaches his head, along with the entrails from the body. A possible precursor to the manananggal of the Tagalog, it is related to the wuwug and ungga-ungga of Visayas.
The magtitima of Bukidnon are invisible entities that dwell in large trees. They like to be treated as superior beings and make those who cut their tree severely ill. As proud beings, they are not easily appeased by offerings when one wished to cut down their tree. 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.
According to the Bagobo, the mahomanay are fair-skinned men who watch over and protect the animals in the forest. They dwell in trees and spend some of their time chewing betel nut. Offerings of betel nut and anklets or leglets are made for the mahomanay so the natives can hunt in the forest believed to be part of their domain.
In Waray folklore, a malakat is a man or a woman who turns into a hairy, canine-like beast at night. It mauls people while its hard, wire-like hair crawl all over the victims to either strangle or suffocate by entering the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. The malakat then feeds on the unconscious or dead victims.
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.
According to some Visayan folklore, the mamamarang is a sort of female aswang that attacks travelers in lonely places and tries to kill them so she may eat their flesh.
In other areas, especially 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 but instead of a fish-like tail it has two scaly limb-like tails. 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 during full moon nights. She abducts those who stray near her lair, using magic so the victims will not drown while being kept underwater. The victims can only return home if the mambubuno lets them. Those who try to escape end up dead by drowning. The mambubuno will then eat the victims’ remains. 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, with a head the size of a fully-grown carabao’s body. Its body is thirty fathoms long. It has two white horns, long fangs that spit venom, large thick scales, and yellow or red fiery eyes. It lives in the dark depths of the ocean and sometimes emerged near the surface to hunt for fish and other marine life. In other areas, especially in Negros it is called nanreben.
The mamumuyag are vindictive hexers in Western Visayas and nearby regions, whose eyes look like that of a cat’s or a lizard’s when hit by the glare of the sun. The images that reflect on their eyes are upside-down. The mamumuyag are mostly shy and solitary, afraid to look straight into another person’s eyes lest their true nature be discovered and face persecution.
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 offended it.
The managtanem uses a type of voodoo similar to those practiced in the Caribbean. Like modern witches, a managtanem uses a voodoo doll and pins when doing harm to someone.
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 will roast the footprint which will cause the victim to suffer high fever. In Zambales, the manananem are known as maniniblot.
The most popular among self-segmenting viscera-suckers, the manananggal of Tagalog folklore appear as normal humans by day but at night they rub a special oil all over their body while chanting an incantation until they grow a pair of large, membranous wings and long sharp claws. Their body then separates at the waist and upper part flies off to hunt. The lower part is usually hidden in a banana grove or deep in the woods if the manananggal did its ritual outdoors. On a full moonlit night, some manananggal stare at the moon until gooey tears come out of their eyes while their upper body will start to glide off. One of a manananggal’s favorite is the fetus inside an expectant woman’s womb. It extracts the fetus by extending its long proboscis-like tongue, its pointed tip piercing into the bloated belly of the mother through the navel and goes straight for the unborn child. It will then start to digest the fetus with enzymes and later suck it out, killing the mother in the process. A manananggal will die if certain spices, ash, and or salt are sprinkled on the exposed stump of its discarded lower half. The lower half can also be hidden, preventing the manananggal from reuniting with it until the creature dies by sunrise.
In some stories, there is a type of manananggal that has no wings and lives the rest of its life without a lower half. It lurks in the forest or woods swinging from tree to tree like a monkey. When a human is in the vicinity, it will drop on the unsuspecting victim, incapacitating with its strength and mauling with its claws.
MANANGILAW or MANANG HILAW
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 faces, the shy and harmless manangilaw use vines which some wrap around their waist like belts to catch fish and shrimp in the river or hunt small animals. 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.
A mandarangkal is an aswang in the guise of a very gorgeous woman. She uses her good looks to seduce men to have sex with her in order to eat them. When the victim is on the verge of orgasm, the mandarangkal grows claws and sharp pointed teeth and bites or slits the victim’s throat. She will then feast on his flesh. Mandarangkal means “praying mantis” in Tagalog and they share the same habit – killing male partners.
Like the mandarangkal, the blood-sucking mandurugo use their beauty to prey on men. A mandurugo marries a healthy, plump youth only to consume a bit of his blood. After changing into a bird-like creature, the tip of her hollow tongue tapers to a needle point and pierces the sleeping victim’s neck and sucks his blood. She does this every night, causing her clueless husband to lose weight rapidly and wither as the days go by. When the mandurugo has drained her husband dead, she flies off to look for another healthy youth to marry and feed on.
In Waray belief, the mang-aawog use spells against farm produce and plantation thieves. A mang-aawog will place a spell called awog on a coconut plantation. This spell is maintained by an accomplice, the spirit called kalag. Anyone who takes and eats a coconut from the area without the owner’s consent will find his belly swell bigger and bigger each high tide as the full moon approaches. The victim won’t be able to eat nor defecate while foul smelling fluid will come out of his orifices. The victim’s belly will swell as large as the belly of a pregnant woman until he dies on the third full moon. During his wake the kalag will arrive and burst his belly open.
Sulod natives in Panay Island describe the mangalayo as a flying or floating ball of fire which appears late afternoon or at night, especially when it is raining, and chases people. Known as allawig in Ilocos, it is said to lead travelers astray into dangerous paths like cliffs, quicksand, 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. People today call these dancing balls of fire santelmo derived from Saint Elmo’s fire which is said to be seen by sailors in the middle of the sea, and are believed to be the spirits of murdered people seeking justice or out for revenge. A santelmo is allegedly created when a murder victim’s blood spilled on the ground is exposed to the scorching heat of the sun and then the rain on the same day.
The mangalok or mangangalek is an aswang variant in Palawan and some parts of Western Visayas. In ancient times, the Cuyonon made offerings to the mangalok so it won’t prey on them.
According to folklore, the mangalok was invisible most of the time but when seen it had the appearance of a winged pretty woman. During the day it slept among the highest tree branch with its long hair covering its face. After sunset it awakened and flew off to prey on the people.
The mangalok usually targeted young people, especially children. It would enter a house – the occupants of which are fast asleep – and upon finding a suitable victim, proceed to suck the bowels through the navel using its long, hollow tongue.
The mangalok also preys on the yet to be born child of a pregnant woman. It is interesting to note that the female genitalia is allegedly poisonous to a mangalok.
Like other aswang, the mangalok had ghoulish habits. It would enter a house where a wake for the dead is being held and replace the cadaver with either a banana trunk or a clump of branches made to appear exactly like the deceased. The mangalok would perch on a coffin being carried to the grave and feed on the innards of the dead inside (in the olden days embalming was not yet common). While feasting, the creature laughed at the pallbearers who noticed that the coffin was heavier, thinking that the soul of the dead is probably reluctant to leave the living world.
The mangalok was also called mamaw, a term still used today to scare children. Superstitious folks in Palawan say that when the call of a gokgok (spotted wood owl) is heard at night, it means a mangalok is on the prowl, since it is believed it also disguises itself as a gokgok.
The manghihikap were ancient Tagalog sorcerers who could kill a person instantly with just a single touch.
An anthropoid giant in Iloilo’s forests, the mangingilaw has a hairy body, very long hair, and big teeth. Despite being a wild beast, some actually wear animal hide to cover their private parts. The mangingilaw is vicious and prefers to eat its prey raw, especially humans. Its name is based on the local word kilaw, meaning “food prepared raw”. Also there is a local delicacy called kilawin, its main ingredient is either raw fish or pork.
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 filth-filled ground (in the olden days houses were elevated from the ground by posts, and the occupants urinated, spat their phlegm, and even defecated on a certain spot under the house) 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.
In Pampanga, there are sorcerers called mangkukusino, who can put poison, small metal objects, or even small live animals inside the body of a person without making direct contact with the victim.
In Kapampangan folklore, the manglilili is an invisible creature or entity said to lead lone travelers astray. Those who lose their way wander in the forest or in the mountain for hours and even days.
According to Ilocanos, 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 call them tumungaw.
An offshoot of the mangkukulam, the mangunguyam 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.
Generally described as a woman whose hair grows very long and wire-like at night, she is an aswang with deadly hair. 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.
Ilocanos 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 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.
The mantiw or mantyu 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 mantiw is passing by when strange whistling is heard from high up in the air at night and the wee hours. The mantiw are fond of whistling while traveling.
Those who have allegedly glimpsed a mantiw describe it as human-like in appearance with dark complexion, a lean physique, wide shoulders, long and slender limbs, and a tall aquiline nose. Male mantiw are said to have incredibly long penis and dangling testicles. The mantiw 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 mantiw hate it when a person mimics their whistling. There are also times when the mantiw play pranks on people by picking up night travelers and carrying them on their shoulders. One tale from Culasi, Antique tells of a man who encountered a mantiw one night after he went serenading. While on his way home the man found himself face to face with a mantiw towering before him. The giant picked him up and carried him on its shoulder. The terrified man hugged his guitar while the mantiw carried him to who knows where. His fingers hit a few strings and the sound it made seemed to spook the giant. Upon realizing this, the man strummed the guitar wildly which frightened the mantiw. It left him on top of a buri palm tree and fled. It was morning when the man was heard shouting for help. The people who came to the rescue were amazed on how he ended up the buri palm when there was no means to climb up. The people had to join two long bamboo poles just to help him to climb down.
Mantiw means “lanky” or “gangling” in Visayan.
MARCUPO a.k.a Magkupo/ Makupo
In Western Visayas old tales tell of 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 lived on top of trees in the mountains where it grabbed 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.
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 breaking bamboo, 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, man-like matruculan of Luzon is the bane of women and infants. His skin is pitch-black while his eyes are bigger than a man’s. This creature will maul a pregnant women to death (even during labor) in order to eat the fetus inside the victim’s womb. He is also known to impregnate virgins after which he leaves and only returns when the woman is at the peak of her pregnancy to eat his own spawn. In the olden days, husbands would brandish a knife above their wives while the latter were in labor 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. Its abode is somewhere outside the eastern sky (probably space). This gargantuan bird is described as having a beak and talons of steel, eyes like mirrors, and tough sharp feathers. Based on its physical description, some speculate that the minokawa was probably an extraterrestrial ship, mistaken for a huge, otherworldly bird by the natives.
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 is 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. A 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 and hair also covers their whole body like the alleged wildman 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.
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 complexions 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 in Mount Madyaas in Panay, and can only be seen and captured after doing certain rituals and other preparations. 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 fending off the “white kapre” it will depart with the niño but can be summoned to do his bidding. 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 around the field 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 – having lived for centuries and even for a few millennium – and only inflict harm when push comes to shove. Most of his kind are fond of children and women; sometimes leaving gifts to those whom they favor. An offering of unsalted viand is most welcomed by the nuno sa punso.
The nuno sa punso is also goes by the name of apo, nuno, 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. 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 believe the palasekan are invisible tree-dwellers. These spirits whistle to humans and hangout near human abodes 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 because they have the ability to foresee the immediate future of people. Those who cut a palasekan’s tree may appease the creature 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 already suffered financial losses. Instead, the dead were wrapped in sleeping mats and buried away from the communal cemetery to avoid 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 believe the pinading or pinad’ing are nature guardians that inhabit boulders, rocks and sacred trees called patpatayan, and watch over rice fields and granaries. They look like normal people and are mostly benevolent.
As mischievous, shape-shifting entities, the piritay waylay persons at noon or at sunset by appearing as someone familiar or attractive to the victims. They entice individuals to follow them and those who did found themselves in an unfamiliar place and realized that they’ve been gone for hours. The unlucky ones are never seen again.
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 people to prey on. 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 sleeping individuals.
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 giant 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, it is notorious for stealing their underwear which were hung to dry outdoors 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, 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 outdoors and unattended 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 devour everything with its enormous gaping mouth.
Like its katataoan cousins, the sangkabagi of Ilocos rides a flying boat and roams in the middle of the night in search of corpses to take to its abode in the underworld. Sangkabagi means “one body” or “unity of bodies”.
If the Greeks have the minotaur, the Ibanag have the sarangay. This being’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 with a size a bit larger than a goat. 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. 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 sorcerer aswang in Catanduanes. People with fair skin and those dressed in white during mourning were their preferred victims. It is said they could see the internal organs of a person (like x-ray vision). 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 tore the victim open (some say through the anus) and took the liver away. The silagan believed the liver of their victims gave them longevity, improved their vitality, and increased their power.
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.
Mermaid-like in appearance, all sirena appear as women. They are in fact hermaphrodites, and are even capable of having an offspring with humans they like. They lure people to the sea with their sweet voice and singing.
The Bagobo tribe describe the siring as curly-haired, shadowy creatures with long, sharp and tough fingernails. They abduct children by disguising as the victims’ relatives. The victims are kept in a lair in a cave or a cliff and are fattened with a meal of worms, only to be slaughtered and eaten. 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, 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.
The Bagobo tribe considered the tagamaling as the least evil among the buso because there were times when they were good to the people. The Mandaya regarded them as the ones who taught the tribe how to weave the dagmay cloth, while the ancient Manobo considered them as spirits that watched over the crops. Said to dwell in invisible houses of gold on top of large trees, they sometimes appeared to humans as normal looking people. Their true appearance, however, was hideous with only one eye and fearsome fangs. They were also slightly taller than a man. This fearsome appearance only appeared every other month at the start of the full moon – when they became true buso and felt the urge to eat human flesh – until the beginning of the new moon. After that they again assumed 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 an erring person into a rock.
The Manobo 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, a tama or tame is a malevolent giant spirit that inhabits big trees like the belete in the forest or the unknown wilds. The tama is mischievous and leads hunters and travelers astray with strange calls and other sounds.
The elf-like tamawo or tumawo of Western Visayas live in vast mansions hidden underground, in the woods, or 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 humanoids 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 encanto, 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.
The grotesque tambaluslos of Bicol is a tall, humanoid creature. Generally black in complexion, it has long and thin legs with big joints, hooves, long thin arms and fingers, and a mane that runs from the back of the head down to its buttocks. It also has wide protruding lips like an ape. Another strange feature of this creature are its big testicles and very long, wrinkled penis which dangles near the ground. The creature’s name is derived from this feature which is referred to as luslus which means “loose and hanging”. The tambaluslos chases people who wander in the woods. The only way to escape it is to take off your clothes and wear them inside-out. The creature finds this act very hilarious and it will laugh so hard that its wide upper lip covers its face, therefore preventing it from seeing the victim who in turn will have ample time to escape.
The Mandaya and the Bukidnon once believed that a lunar eclipse was caused by 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 believed this huge crab from the mountains caused the great deluge by plugging the world’s navel in the sea. The Manobo, on the other hand, believed the tambanakaua was 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.
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 entities in the shape of trees. But unlike trees, they can move but not mobile, have fewer leaves, weirdly or humanoid-shaped, and 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 but some are tall. Most of the time they move so fast that humans rarely see them. Aside from their power of invisibility they can also talk to animals and know a lot of nature’s secrets.
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 can move so fast that it is impossible to see them. 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 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 will get sick. Some of the encanto and witches who wish to make a person seriously ill or even die, make a tibsukan burrow and live under the victim’s house.
According to the Bicolano epic Ibalon, the tiburon 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. Rain during a sunny day means a maiden is being wed to a tikbalang.
A tiktik is a large-winged aswang from the Visayas. It makes loud high-pitched cries while flying. When it locates a sleeping pregnant woman it sneaks into the house, crawls on the walls, and suspends itself inverted above the intended victim. It then lowers its long slender, tubular tongue which pierces the victim’s abdomen and starts to suck the unborn child.
Others say it is the pet bird of the aswang. The bird is used to locate the house of target victims. The bird will perch on the roof of the house and call out its master with a sound from which its name is derived.
One legend, however, says that the tiktik is an enemy of the aswang. Its cry warns of the arrival or presence of an aswang to foil the fiend’s plans.
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 ogre deep in the forests of Iloilo. Its mouth can gape so wide it can swallow a man whole.
The tirtiris are Ilocano humanoids 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 also generous and give their friends rice. When wronged, they cause the offender to have sore eyes or skin rashes.
Bicolano, Ilocano, and Tagalog folklore describe the tiyanak as a small, bald-headed old man with wrinkled skin, bloodshot eyes, pointed teeth, pointed ears, and small horns, which disguised itself as a baby abandoned in the field or in the forest. Another feature of this creature is the disproportionate length of its legs, the left leg being shorter while the right leg is extremely longer. 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.
The tiyanak is also known as patianak and tumanod among the ancient Mandaya and Tagalogs respectively, muntianak among the Bagobo, and mantianak among the Tagakalao tribe in Davao.
A tiyu-an is a flightless variant of the manananggal originating from Capiz. This one doesn’t have wings and doesn’t split her body in half. Instead, the tiyu-an jumps on the roof or enters the house of a pregnant woman unnoticed. She then extends her tongue into a very long and thin proboscis and pierces the belly of the victim to suck the blood of the fetus inside. In some cases she will lick and sniff a severely ill person, sucking the life force until the victim dies. A tiyu-an is only female and owns a puppy that never grows old. It is said the puppy, which is passed from one generation to another, like an heirloom, is actually the master from whom she got her powers. When this mutt licks the tiyu-an, it’s telling her that it is hungry and it’s time for her to hunt.
According to the lore of ancient Visayans, the todtod was a giant with two prominent teeth above and two below. One of its arms was of stone or as hard as stone (like Hellboy).
Maranaos 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. Maranaos call the water-inhabiting tonong diwata.
An aswang variant in Libertad, Antique.
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 encanto 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 very large penis and testicles. It is said to reside in the forest surrounding Mount Pinatubo.
According to the Manobo, 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.
A humanoid creature in ancient Bicol 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.
Tuya was the ancient karay-a (a dialect in Western Visayas, especially in Iloilo Province) term for giants.
Found in Pangasinan folklore, the ugaw are tiny beings seldom seen because they move so fast. They live near rice granaries or they go to places where rice is abundant or stored to steal rice from humans.
Ukbar is an entity revered by some of the aswang in Samar.
The uko or oko of Luzon are man-sized, ape-like creatures that abduct and eat children. They live in groups in caves.
The ukoy or syokoy are hideous humanoid water folk that inhabit some parts of lakes, rivers, and the sea. There are two variants of ukoy. 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 ghoul that eats only the thumbs and big toes of the dead.
The ungga-ungga or unga-unga of Negros (known as wuwug or wowog in Eastern Visayas) is a self-segmenting viscera-sucker with an appearance similar to that of the penanggal or penanggalan of Indonesia. Like the latter, it separates at the neck and the wingless head hovers off with its sparkling entrails dangling in the air, leaving the body behind. Unlike the penanggal, however, this creature is not exclusively female. When not hunting for pregnant women, an ungga-ungga looks for people to tackle in the river. Apparently it is strong enough to lift a person using its seemingly prehensile hair. It will try to suffocate the victim by stuffing its hair into the person’s eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, or drown him in the river. The ungga-ungga won’t go near a house surrounded by bamboo groves, fearing that their hair and entrails might get entangled with the thorns and brambles.
A black-complexioned giant with long, pointed teeth and lives in a cave in the mountains of Western Visayas. 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 will bring the victim to its domain and, through magic, will turn the hapless youngster into a coconut for later consumption.
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 difference between a wak-wak and a manananggal is that the former doesn’t separate from its lower half. 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 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/her.
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.
The Manobo yamud are freshwater diwata with the upper body of humans and fish tails instead of legs. They watch over the fishes. They inhabit underwater caves, deep pools in rivers, and lakes and streams. When offended they cause people to drown.
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