We're not talking about corrupt Filipino politicians here, although
this name can be very well attributed to them as well.
Aswang, kapre, duwende, tikbalang, tiyanak... these are but a few
of what we mean by Pinoy Monsters - the Filipino version of supernatural
beings. True blue Filipinos, whether raised in the city or in the
provinces, have certainly heard a story or two about these mystical
For those of you who have never heard about them, read on, and be
fascinated at what the Filipino supernatural world holds... figments
of imagination? You decide.
Generally, the "aswang" is said to be the most dreaded supernatural
creature, being able to change into different forms while hunting,
eats corpses, makes people ill, sucks blood and even cuts themselves
in halves at night. This description fits the five types of "aswang"
- the false beast, the corpse-eaters, hexers, bloodsuckers and the
False beasts transform themselves to other beings
such as humans, dogs, cats, or any living thing they first meet upon
beginning their nightly prowl for prey. It tears its victims into
pieces with its fangs, tucks or horns.
Corpse-eaters, as its name suggests, devours human
corpses, with special preference for freshly laid corpses. Legend
says it can transform even corpses at a wake into pigs or banana trunks,
substituting them to the corpses in the coffin, so similar to the
original corpse, except that it has no fingerprint.
Hexers, more popularly
know as the "mangkukulam," are like witches who cast spells on people
to make them ill. They are also known to magically place bugs, shells,
fish bones, needles, bits of glass and other weird objects under their
victim's skin, which causes the latter much discomfort and pain. Most
of the time, they use a little black doll to represent their victim
Bloodsuckers, similar to the Western vampire, appear
to be very attractive humans by day, who take their husbands as victims.
Tales say a bloodsucker is usually a pretty lady who sucks her husband's
blood every night until he dies.
The "manananggal" or the self-segmenter is the most popular
type of "aswang," being the subject of a lot of old Filipino
movies. Human by day, half-monster by night - they are believed to
cut themselves half by night, with their waist up flying out to catch
prey, transforming into a monster with large, bat-like wings and sharp
fangs. The lower half, waist down, is usually left in her house, her
closet or even her bed.
Old folks say the "aswang" comes as either of the five types,
or a combination of them. One common "aswang" favorite -
unborn babies in their mother's wombs.
The manananggal, at her half-monster state, is even rumored to perch
on the rooftop of a sleeping expectant mother and extend her thread-like
tongue to the lady's belly, feeding on the baby's fresh blood and
If you're familiar with the Harry Potter character, "Hagrid,"
then you probably have a fairly good idea of a "kapre,"
only the latter is believed to be larger and looks more terrifying
than the good-natured Hagrid.
Most describe him as a giant with glowing eyes and a cigar that never
burns out, perched on top of a large tree. "Beware of trees that
move without the wind blowing," says superstitious folk, although
adding that most of the "kapre"s are harmless, even if they
appear only at night.
A dwarf or a gnome - this is probably the closest description one
can have of the Filipino mythological creature, "duwende." They are
said to be tiny creatures dwelling under the earth, in what humans
see as ant or termite hills.
Like humans, they are thought to be either good or bad-natured, called
"duwendeng puti" and "duwendeng itim" respectively.
Old folks caution people to be careful around their dwellings, for
being unseen, the "duwende" might get hurt, thus get mad. Punishment
includes a swollen body part of the person, twisted mouth, and a long
list of ailments they can magically inflict on the human being who
ruined their habitat, or worse, killed a "duwende," whether
intentionally or not.
This is precisely why "tabi-tabi po" should be said aloud
when passing through supposed "duwende" territories, according
to oldies, in order to warn these supernatural creatures to give way
to humans who do not see them.
Half-human, half-horse. Or should I say, mostly human, head, horse.
Sort of the opposite of a centaur (upper half man, lower half horse),
only said to look and smell awful, with glowing ember for eyes and
foul-smelling smoke bellowing forth from their nostrils.
Just like the "kapre," the "tikbalang" is believed
to hide by trees and bushes, waiting to mislead unwary travelers with
magical pranks. This creature is also thought to be omnivorous, eating
not just fruits, but also animal flesh, (even human flesh). Though
mostly evil by nature, some were said to belong to non-evil alliances,
wanting acceptance and tolerance and trying to fit-in to human groups,
but to no avail.
Simply a crying, adorable baby who turns monster. Popularized in generation
X by an 80's movie, "Tiyanak" with the lead role played
by Janice de Belen (it was even branded, "anak ni Janice"),
this monster turns into baby to lure humans to them, thereafter eating
the fooled person up.
According to an article by Neal Cruz, an Inquirer columnist, about
the Philippine mythological creatures, the "tiyanak" lures
the unwary into a forest with its cries until he gets lost. To get
back in path, according to superstition, turn your shirt inside out
and the spell will be broken.
The Nature and Mystics of Superstitions (http://library.thinkquest.org/27661/index2.htm)
Creatures of Philippine Mythology(http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~ucanes00/index.html)
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