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Philippine folklore, unlike Greek or Roman mythologies, has not been organized into a formal pantheon, does not generally contain long epics, nor has it been relegated to history. To this day, Philippine myths still have an active role in the lives of rural Filipinos. The countless myths circulating throughout the Filipino countryside contain a large variety of mythical creatures. Although there is no scientific evidence for any of these creatures, there is also no shortage in the rural parts of the Philippines of people who believe firmly in their existence. This discrepancy is sometimes rationalized by the explanation that only pure and good mortals are able to see these creatures.
Bungisngis is a one-eyed giant. This Philippine folklore giant lives in forest and woods. It is a happy and a playful cyclops. It is also commonly known as 'Mahentoy' in the northern part of Davao.
Aswangs are shapeshifters. They are human-like by day but transform into different monstrous forms to harass and eat awake humans at night, especially pregnant women who are about to give birth. Aswangs can change from a human to an animal form, usually as a bat, a cat, a pig or a black dog. Some aswangs can change form at will, others through the use of foul oils concocted by evil magicians. Aswangs appear at night to prey upon unwary travelers or sleeping people. It is said that they have a peculiar liking for the taste of human liver. The myth of the Aswang is popular in the Visayas, especially in provinces such as Capiz, Antique, and Iloilo. Aswangs also have a peculiar liking for the fetus of pregnant women and are said to find their quarry by the scent of the mother, which to the aswang smells like ripe jackfruit. Upon finding the house of the pregnant mother, the aswang alights on the roof from where it stretches its tongue until it is as thin as a thread and uses it to enter the womb and feast on the fetus.
Berberoka ensnares its victims by drinking enough water in the pond until a number of fish appear into the surface.
Diwata (from Sanskrit devada, "gods"), engkantada (from Spanish: encantada, "enchantress, charmed") or engkanto (from Spanish: encanto, "spell, incantation, charm") are dryads who guard natural creations such as forests, seas, mountains, land and air. Diwatas are said to reside in large trees, such as acacia and balete. They bring blessings or curses upon those who do good or harm to the forests and mountains. One famous diwata is Maria Makiling, guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna province. Engkanto (sometimes spelled Encanto) is an umbrella term for most supernatural beings. The common connotation is that they are fairies who reside primarily in the forests and the sea. They can also be called encantado (male) or encantada (female).
Duwende are goblins, hobgoblins, elves or dwarfs (Spanish: duende "goblin, elf, charm" < "duen de (casa)", owner of the house). They are little creatures who can provide good fortune or bad fate to humans. In the Philippines, duwendes frequently live in houses, in trees, underground, termite like mound or hill, and in rural areas. They are known to be either good or mischievous, depending on how homeowners treat them. They usually come out at 12 noon for an hour and during the night. Filipinos always mutter words ("tabi-tabi po" or "bari-bari apo ma ka ilabas kami apo") asking them to excuse themselves for bothering the Duwendes. Filipinos would leave food on the floor, so that the duwende residing (or guarding) the house would not be angry with them. They also take your things,and laugh at you when you try to find it. They give it back when they feel like it,or when you tell them to please give it back.
Ekek are creatures who are bird-like humans. They are winged-humans who at night search for victims. They hunger for flesh and blood. It is like a Harpy.
Kapre is a filthy giant who likes to smoke huge rolls of cigars, and hide within, and atop large trees, particularly the balete and old acacia or mango trees. A Filipino bigfoot, it scares away little children who play at night. If you're stuck in a place and you keep going around in circles, you're said to be played around with by a Kapre. To escape its control, you must remove your shirt/clothing, and wear it inside-out.
Malakas and Maganda (literally, Strong One and Beautiful One) are Filipino versions of Adam and Eve. They are said to have sprung from a large bamboo tree pecked by a Sarimanok known as Magaulancealabarca.
Mambabarang (summoner) is a witch who uses insects and spirits to enter the body of any person they hate. A Mambabarang is a kind of a mangkukulam. Mambabarangs are ordinary human beings with black magic who torture and later kill their victims by infesting their bodies with insects. They are different from Mangkukulams - the latter only inflict pain or illness. Mambabarangs use a strand of hair from their chosen victim and tie it to the bugs or worms which they will use as a medium. When they prick the bug, the victim immediately experiences the intended effect.
Manananggal is an aswang that can fly after separating itself from the lower half of its body. It eats babies and fetuses from a mothers womb. It eats babies by means of passing their long tongue through a small hole from the roof of a house. The sharp end of the tongue touches the mother's navel to suck the blood of the fetus or unborn child. This creature's name was derived from the Filipino word, tanggal, which means "to separate" because of the manananggal's ability to separate itself from its lower body.
A manananggal can also be a sorceress that visits villages and barrios. To feed, the self-segmenter chooses an isolated place where she will leave her lower torso while she hunts at night. When she separates from her lower torso, she then gains her ability to fly. She then goes off in search of houses where pregnant women reside. Upon choosing a suitable victim, the Manananggal alights on the house and inserts her tongue through the roof. The tongue is long, hollow and extremely flexible. She uses it to puncture the womb of the sleeping woman and to suck out the fetus. At other times, she seduces men with her beauty and lures them to a private place before eating them alive. She usually eats the insides, like the heart, stomach or the liver. Sunlight is deadly to the Manananggal when she is in her monstrous form. Should her two halves still be separate with the coming of dawn, she will be destroyed. According to legend, to destroy the Manananggal, one should search for the lower torso that she leaves behind during her nightly hunts. Salt, ash, and/or garlic should then be placed on the exposed flesh, preventing the monster from combining again and leaving it vulnerable to sunlight. Small containers of salt, ash and raw rice, and the smell of burning rubber are said to deter the Manananggal from approaching one's house.
The manaul is a mythical king who became a bird. He was believed to have caused the seas and the skies to fight against each other. The clash between the seas and skies resulted to the formation of the Philippine islands.
Mangkukulam or bruha (from Spanish: bruja, "witch") are witches, wizards, bruho (Spanish:brujo, "wizard, male witch"), or sorcerers who cast evil spells to humans. This bewitcher is also called manggagaway. The Mangkukulam uses dark magic.
The difference between a mambabarang and a mangkukulam is that the mambabarang uses magical insects to bring harm to his victims. These insects are released after incantations, when they will search for their supposed victim and burrow under the skin, impregnating her. After some time, matruculans return to the house to kill the pregnant mother, open her abdomen, and eat the growing fetus.
Mariang Makiling is a fairy who dwells atop Laguna's Mount Makiling, an inactive volcano. Oral tradition described that Mount Makiling was once a castle and Mariang Makiling was a princess who fell in love with a mortal.
Multo, the Tagalog word for ghost, comes from the Spanish word muerto, which means "dead". Superstitious Filipinos believe that some kind of multo, often a spirit of their former kin, regularly visits them.
Nuno sa punso (literally, goblin of the mound) are goblins or elves who live within mysterious lumps of soil (ant hills). They can provide a person who steps on their shelter with good luck or misfortune. Superstitious Filipinos, when passing by a mound, will ask the resident nuno's permission to let them pass with the phrase, "Tabi-tabi po". Strange and sudden illnesses that befall a person are sometimes attributed to nunos.
Pasatsat is word rooted on the Pangasinense word satsat, meaning "to stab". Pasatsats are ghosts of people who died or were killed in the Second World War. Coffins during the time were so expensive, so the families of the dead wrapped the corpses in reed mats or icamen. The dead were buried in places other than cemeteries because tomb robberies were rampant during that era of extreme poverty. These ghosts usually show up in solitary paths and block passersby. To get rid of such a ghost, one needs to stab (hence pasatsat) the reed mat and unravel it, but doing so will show no presence of a corpse, although the mat will emit a noxious odor, much like that of putrid flesh.
Santelmo, or Santo Elmo, is a fireball seen by dozens of Filipinos, especially those living in the Sierra Madre Mountains. It was scientifically explained as electric fields which have diverged from the lines. However, the sightings were reported since the Spanish era (16th-19th centuries). (See also Shinen and Will-o-Wisps) There were also sightings in the Alps and Himalayas.
Sarangay, is a creature resembling a bull with a huge muscular body and a jewel attached to its ears.
A Sarimanok is a magical, mythical bird who brings good luck to anyone who are able to catch it. A Sarimanok known as Magaul is associated with the legend of Malakas and Maganda. Magaul was the Sarimanok bird that pecked the bamboo from where Malakas and Maganda were born from.
Sirena is a mermaid, a sea creature with a human upper body and a fish tail instead of lower extremities. They attract fishermen and tourists. Sirenas are reportedly often seen ashore by fishermen, especially in the towns bordering the Pacific Ocean.
Siyokoy are mermen, sea creatures that have a human form and scaled bodies. The Siyokoy is the male counterpart of the Sirena. The lower extremities of a Philippine merman can either be a fishtail or scaled legs and webbed feet. They could also have long, green tentacles. They drown mortals for food. Siyokoys have gill slits, are colored brown or green, and have scaly skin, comparable to that of a fish.
Tikbalang or tigbalang (demon horse) is a half-man and half-horse creature. It has a horse's head, the body of a human but with the feet of the horse. It travels at night to rape female mortals. The raped women will then give birth to more tikbalang. They are also believed to cause travelers to lose their way particularly in mountainous or forest areas. Tikbalangs are very playful with people, and they usually make a person imagine things that aren't real. Sometimes a Tikbalang will drive a person crazy. Legends say that when rain falls while the sun is shining, a pair of Tikbalangs are being wed. Since horses only arrived in the Philippine archipelago during the Spanish colonization (thus, the borrowed term 'kabayo'), there is a theory that the image of a half-horse, half-man creature was propagated by the conquistadors to keep the natives afraid of the night. There are stories claiming that the Tikbalang are actually half-bird, half-man creatures, much like the Japanese tengu.
Tiyanak are babies who died before receiving baptism rites. After death, they go to a place known as Limbo, a chamber of Hell which unbaptized dead people fall into, and are transformed into evil spirits. These phantasms return into the mortal realm in the form of goblins to eat living victims. The tiyanak can also be the offspring of a woman and a demon. It can also be an aborted fetus which comes back to take revenge on its mother. Most Tiyanaks are said to live in forests. If they see a human, they transform into what looks like a normal baby. When the person notices the Tiyanak and comes near to take a look at it, the Tiyanak changes back to its true form and eats its prey. And since they often seen coming out of trees it may also refer to Tboli legends, Tibolis are known for hanging their infants in trees who died after birth.
Wakwak is assumed to grab humans at night as its prey, just like Manananggal and the Ekek who can fly. It likes to haunt in the rural areas of the Philippines. The Wakwak has no ability to separate its torso from its body. Some people believed that it is a night bird that belongs to a witch.
The Wakwak makes a sound by flapping its wings whilst flying. The sound that it produced is typically linked to the presence of an Unglu (vampire) or Ungo (ghost or monster). The Wakwak’s sound also indicates that it is searching for victims. When the sound is loud, it means that it is far from you. If not, then it is near you and ready to attack. The Wakwak rips and maims its victims and then feeds on their hearts. The old folks described the Wakwak as creatures with long sharp talons and a pair of wings just like bats. Its talons or claws are used in slashing its victims in order to retrieve their hearts.