Philippine mythical creatures

Main article: Philippine mythology

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.

List of Philippine Mythical Creatures


Bakunawa is a dragon in Philippine mythology that is often represented as a gigantic sea serpent. It is believed to be the cause of eclipses. It is believed that he or she was just turned into a dragon as punishment. Bakunawa was a beautiful diwata in the sea; some say she was a naga, and was the most powerful. One night, she saw the seven moons and was captivated by their beauty and longed to possess them. One of the embodiments of the moon descended to the sea to swim with the mermaids. It was Bulan, the adolescent aspect of the moon. The boy moon did not notice Bakunawa. Thinking the boy had ignored her beauty to play with the mermaids enraged her. The following night, she transformed herself into a dragon and devoured the moons. When she had swallowed the last moon, Bathala intervened, so she spit out the moon...


Main article: Bungisngis

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.


Main article: Aswang

Aswangs are shapeshifters. They are human-like by day but transform into different monstrous forms to harass and eat awake humans at night or day, especially pregnant women who are about to give birth.[1] Aswangs can change from a human to an animal form, usually as a big black bird with a long tongue (tiktik), as a half-bodied monster (manananggal) 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 good magicians (albularyo,manggagaway,manghihilot). Aswangs appear at night (rarely during the day) 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 Aklan, Capiz, Antique, and Ilo-Ilo. Aswangs (mostly, tiktiks) 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 tiktik 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. The only way to prevent this creature is to put your soft brooms or brooms stick upside down, to put a "badiawan twig" all over your windows, or to put a blessed or a magic dagger in any parts of the house.


Bathala (top), a diwata (bottom), and the Sarimanok (center).
Main article: Bathala

Bathala, Diyos or Apo it is the creation god in Filipino myths.[1][2][3]


Main article: Berberoka

Berberoka ensnares its victims by drinking enough water in the pond until a number of fish appear into the surface.


Main article: Diwata

Diwata (from Sanskrit devada, "gods"), engkantada (from Spanish: encantada, "enchantress, charmed") or engkanto (from Spanish: encanto, "spell, incantation, charm") are lesser gods and goddess some are dryads who guard natural creations such as forests, seas, mountains, land and air.[1] 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).


Main article: Duende (mythology)

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.[1] In the pre-colonial Philippines they were called mangalo and were believed to cause the death of children by eating their bowels. Also in pre-colonial philippines mainly Visayas people believed that this race of creatures served and raised the goddess Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan. In modern day beliefs 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.


Ekek are creatures who are bird-like humans. "Wakwak" in the common Filipino term. They are winged-humans who at night search for victims. They hunger for flesh and blood. It is like a Harpy.


A male diwata is coined as enkanto, but they are a totally different race. They are believed to be malevolent and physically attractive, having very pale skin to white skin that sparkles under direct sunlight, light colored hair and fangs. It resides primarily near the sea or any body of water. It is customary for Filipino fishermen to offer meat and other delicacies to the enkanto by throwing them into the sea, after a day's bountiful catch.


Garuda is a large bird-like creature, or humanoid bird muscular upper body of a man but the face and large wings of the great eagle who is believed to eat men


Main article: Kapre

Kapre is a filthy giant[1] 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.[4] If you're stuck in a place and you keep going around in circles, you said to be played around with by a Kapre. To escape its control, you must remove your shirt/clothing, and wear it inside-out.


Main article: Kinnara

Kinara are described as gentle creatures, loyal and subservient, and are depicted of having a beautiful face and the upper body of a slender woman or boy with wings, or can transform its hands and limbs into feathered wings for flight and the lower body of a bird description varies. Kinaras are skilled dancers and musicians performing solely for their lover.

The Kinara or Kinari the devoted lover with the beautiful face and body of a woman (sometimes a boy) with feathered wings and claws who will love and devotedly serve the mortal they have fallen in love with and when their hearts get broken they turn into winged monsters that feed on blood called Mandurugo In pre-colonial Philippines Kinnara or Kinarri are symbol of androgynous beauty and of a lover's devotion a symbol of ethereal beauty and undying devotion towards a lover. Pre-colonial gold have been found depicting such otherworldly beauty. In Philippine epics and folklore kinara or kinari usually guards a jar of treasure but is actually guarding the remains of his human lover, since pre-colonial Philippines people bury their deceased in jars along with their gold and precious stones.


Naga's other names are Marindaga, Marinaga, Maginaga. They are a type of fresh water mermaids, but instead of having fish tails they have eels and/or water snakes for tails and the upper body of a human female having alluring face, curvaceous body and long flowing hair.

Vicious to adults but gentle to children are considered the protectors of springs, wells and rivers. They bring rain, and thus fertility, but are also thought to bring disasters such as floods and drought.

Nagas are snake-like mermaids that may take human form. They tend to be very curious. According to traditions nāgas are only malevolent to humans when they have been mistreated. They are susceptible to mankind's disrespectful actions in relation to the environment. They are also associated with waters—rivers, lakes, seas, and wells—and are generally regarded as guardians of treasure.

In other beliefs the most powerful of the Nagas became a goddess named Bakunawa. She is captivated by the beauty of the seven moons and turned herself into a giant dragon-serpent in order to reach them, but the deity Bathala punished her so she remained in her dragon state for all eternity.

Malakas and Maganda

Malakas and Maganda.

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. [2][5][6]


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.


A manananggal.
Main article: Manananggal

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.[7] 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.[1]

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.


Main article: Mangkukulam

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.[1] 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.

Maria Makiling

Maria Makiling.
Main article: Maria Makiling

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

Main article: Nuno sa punso

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.[1] 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. It is also said that nunos don't like being pointed at, and could cause you to break your finger.


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.


Main article: St. Elmo's Fire

The mangalyo or santilmu appears in the form of a ball of fire. Pre-colonial islanders believed it is a living entity It is presently known asSantelmo, 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.


The Sarimanok.
Main article: Sarimanok

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.[2][5][6]


Dyesebel, a Philippine mermaid.

Sirena is a mermaid, a sea creature with a human upper body and a fish tail instead of lower extremities. beautiful but vicious they were called Magindara and were guardians of the waters of "asin-palan(Pangasinan)" guarding it from the tattooed raiders from the Visayas. In Pre-colonial Philippines it is believed that in the full moon or in the Dayaw or Kadayawan one of the embodiment of the moon who is Bulan descended from the heavens to swim with the mermaids and that the mermaids protected the boy moon from sea monsters. They attract fishermen and lure them to their deaths but sometimes they fall in love.[1] 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 due to trespass into their territory. Siyokoys have gill slits, are colored brown or green, and have scaly skin, comparable to that of a fish.


Tamawo or Tamao are mythogical creatures believed to be handsome having very fair to white skin with fangs and claws of gold. Believed to be clad in gold and wears putong and bahag like the nobles of pre-colonial Visayas. The tamawo were known by its different names: the bumalabag, male fairy who viewed and visited places; the manupongtupong, a male fairy who dresses like an ordinary man; the manla-awla-aw who looked out from behind an anthill; manilag-nilag, a female fairy who attended social gatherings and festivities; and the manbukay, a female fairy who dwelt in shallow wells.


Main article: Tikbalang
A Tikbalang.

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.[1] 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.


Main article: Tiyanak

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.


Main article: Wakwak

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 while 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.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Tagalog-English Dictionary by Leo James English, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Manila, distributed by National Book Store, 1583 pages, ISBN 971-91055-0-X
  2. 1 2 3 Malakas at Maganda Legend,, 2006, retrieved on August 5, 2007
  3. Giovanni, R.C. The Origins of Man, Ancient Mythology, Children of Pearl, (undated), retrieved on: August 5, 2007
  4. The Kapre, Ancient Mythology, Children of the Pearl, (undated), retrieved on August 5, 2007
  5. 1 2 The Tale of Malakas and Maganda, Ancient Mythology, Children of the Pearl, (undated), retrieved on August 5, 2007
  6. 1 2 Story of Malakas and Maganda,, retrieved on: August 5, 2007
  7. The Manananggal, Ancient Mythology, Children of the Pearl, (undated), retrieved on August 5, 2007


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