Here is a collection of monsters and mythical creatures throughout the Philippines. The Philippines is a host to quite a large amount of unique and interesting stories of these creatures and their wicked nature.
Aswang is a generic term applying to group of creature types such as witches, vampires, manananggals, shapeshifters, therianthropes and monsters. The original definition is an eater of the dead and is also know under different names the bal-bal (maninilong in Catanauan, Quezon. Stories recount aswangs as female shapeshifters living among regular townspeople, they are quiet, shy and elusive and At night, they transform into creatures from cat, pig, bird and the most common a dog. They enjoy eating unborn fetuses and small children, favoring livers and hearts. Some have long proboscises, which they use to suck the children out of their mothers’ wombs or their homes. Spanish colonizers noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines.
Manananggal is described as being a hideous, scary vampire-like creature (as opposed to an aswang), capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat-like wings to prey on unsuspecting, pregnant women in their homes; using an elongated proboscis-like tongue, it sucks the hearts of fetuses or the blood of an unsuspecting, sleeping victim. The severed lower torso is left standing, and it is said to be the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt or smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin and will die at daybreak. The name of the creature originates from sinalalala used for a severed torso: manananggal comes from the Tagalog tanggal (cognate of Malay tanggal), which means “to remove” or “to separate”. Manananggal then means “the one who separates itself” (in this case, separates itself from its lower body). It is a saying that a manananggal’s attack can be avoided by death. The most prominent characteristic of a manananggal is its ability to dispatch its torso from its legs.
Mangkukulam is a Witch or sorcerers who cast evil spells to inflict pain or illness. 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.
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.
Tiyanak or impakto 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.
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.
Kapre is a filthy, dark 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 by a Kapre. To escape its control, you must remove your t-shirt, and wear it inside-out.
Bal-Bal is a monster that steals corpses whether it is in a funeral or grave and feeds on them. It has a strong sense of smell for dead human bodies. It also has claws and teeth sharp enough to rip the clothing of the dead. Since it eats nothing but corpses, it has a foul breath. Once this monster has spotted and eaten the corpse, it will leave the trunk of a banana tree in the coffin creating an illusion of the stolen body to trick people.
The Batibat or Bangungot is a vengeful demon found in Ilocano folklore. These demons were blamed as the cause of the fatal nocturnal disease called bangungot. A batibat takes the form of a huge, old, fat woman that resides in trees. They usually come in contact with humans when the tree that they reside in is felled and made into a support post for a house. This causes them to migrate into holes found in the post. The batibat forbids humans from sleeping near its post. When a person does sleep near it, the batibat transforms to its true form and attacks that person. It sits upon the chest of its victim until he suffocates. To ward off the batibat, one should bite one’s thumb or wiggle one’s toes. In this way, the person will awaken from the nightmare induced by the batibat.
Bungisngis is described as a giant humanoid with one eyed who is always laughing. It has large teeth which are always showing, and its upper lip covers its face when it is thrown back. Two long tusks project from the side of its mouth. The giant only has one eye, which is found in the middle of its forehead,but this is compensated by its strong sense of hearing. It has also displays unusual strength. In the Filipino tale “The Three Friends – The Monkey, The Dog and The Carabao, The giant is able to lift the carabao and throw it with such force that it ends knee-deep in the ground. However, despite its strength, the bungisngis is easily outwitted and quickly panics. In the tale of the Three Friends, Monkey’s tricks led him to his death.
Tales about the Bakunawa say that it is the cause of eclipses. During ancient times, Filipinos believe that there are seven moons created by Bathala to light up the sky. The Bakunawa, amazed by their beauty, would rise from the ocean and swallow the moons whole, angering Bathala and causing them to be mortal enemies.To keep the Bakunawa moons from completely being swallowed, ancient Filipinos would go out of their homes with pans and pots, and would make noise in order to scare the Bakonawa into spitting out the moon back into the sky. Some of the people in the villages would play soothing sounds with their musical instruments, in hopes that the dragon would fall into a deep sleep. Thus, the brave men of the village hoped that while the dragon was hypnotized by the musical sounds they could somehow slay the dragon. Although the dragon was known as a “moon eater” it was also known as a “man eater”.
Other tales tell that the Bakunawa has a sister in the form of a sea turtle. The sea turtle would visit a certain island in the Philippines in order to lay its eggs. However, locals soon discovered that every time the sea turtle went to shore, the water seemed to follow her, thus reducing the island’s size. Worried that their island would eventually disappear, the locals killed the sea turtle. When the Bakunawa found out about this, it arose from the sea and ate the moon. The people were afraid so they prayed to Bathala to punish the creature. Bathala refused but instead told them to bang some pots and pans in order to disturb the serpent. The moon is then regurgitated while the Bakunawa disappeared, never to be seen again.
The Kibaan are fair-skinned, their mouths gleam with gold teeth, heels point forward and toes behind. They have long hair that reaches their feet, but are only as big as a two-year old child. They can be found in the Bangar tree, in bushes and small trees frequented by “alitaptap” or fireflies at night. By its frustration, it is kept in a mortal’s yard. It keeps the ground under its tree home well swept. It has a kitchen where a spicy odor emanates from after sunset. It sings in small groups on vines in groves while strumming tiny guitars. The Kibaan steal yam from fire, but is fooled by stones roasted in place of the tubers .It gives mortal friends a magic pot, purse, hat, net chain, goat, whip and/or drum. These are similar to those made by the Pallocs. Example, Magic Pot never empties of food.
Lampong (Ilongot) When first seen, it is one-eyed white deer then becomes two feet tall later. It wears a tall, black, two-peaked cap. It is bright-eyed and long-bearded. It lives in the forest shepherding wild beasts, risking its life to save them. It beckons men who shoot at these beasts. If someone tries to shoot at it, the first five tries will be without success, giving it time to escape, at least. But when it does get hit, it turns into a Duende, which by then will give it powers to inflict vengeance. Once a hunter was out one night hunting with his bright light in the forest as he came across Two brilliant eyes that showed up and he shot between them but when he search for the animal believe to be a deer Nothing was found. Few minutes he saw the bright eyes again so he shot again and again but never hit the animal until the the sixth time he glimpsed the light fur of a white deer Then immediately it changed form and the hunter saw standing there, a little (duwende -> is a goblins, elves or dwarfs) about two feet high. It had on only a tall two-peaked black cup and a long white beard reaching to the knees. Its eyes were very brilliant. It stood there beckoning to the hunter but just then the rest of the hunting party walk up and saw the duwende.So frightened they ran scream and cried out: “It is the Lampong,” and ran away.
Calanget (Ifugao), Caranget (Gaddang), Carango (Ibanag)
Diminutive beings, the Calanget dwell in the ground – in a mound in woods and fields. The Calanget responds to the call of Shamans by making a whistling sound. The Ethnic Muggle Tribes regard the Calanget as the “true owner of the land”. It is a very bad idea to dig up its mound or dwelling for it will inflict harm on any that does. And it can do much harm.
Minokawa that lives in outer space which can devour the sun and the moon, and would try to do the same with the earth. Before time began, very long ago, a great bird called Minokawa swallowed the moon. Seized with fear, all the people began to scream and made great noises. Then the bird peeped down to see what the matter was, and opened his mouth. But as soon as he opened his mouth, the moon sprang out and ran away.
The Minokawa-bird is as large as the Island of Negros or Bohol. It has a beak of steel, and his claws too are of steel. His eyes are mirrors, and each single feather is a sharp sword. He lives outside the sky, at the eastern horizon, ready to seize the moon and after the unsuccessful attempt of swallowing the satellite, it journeys and haunts again lurking under the earth.
The moon makes eight holes in the eastern horizon to come out of, and eight holes in the western horizon to go into, because every day the big bird tries to catch her, and she is afraid. The exact moment he tries to swallow her is just when she is about to come in through one of the holes in the east to shine on us again. If the Minokawa should swallow the moon, and the sun too, he would then come down to earth and gulp down men also. But when the moon is in the belly of the big bird, and the sky is dark, then all the Bagobo people will scream and cry, and beat gongs, because they fear they will all be eaten. Soon this racket makes the Minokawa-bird look down and “open his mouth to hear the sound.” Then the moon jumps out of the bird’s mouth and runs away.