Archive for October, 2015

It’s Halloween, and so ghostly and horrific stories abound. This year, let’s join in on the fun.

Filipinos have a wealth of our own when it comes to beings of the nether realm. Let’s reintroduce some of them.


Taken from the root word tanggal (to remove, to detach), the manananggal is a being often depicted as a woman who is able detach the upper torso from the rest of her body. The torso sprouts giant bat-like wings that lets it fly to stalk unwitting victims throughout the night. Meanwhile, the lower portion is left vulnerable, so the manananggal is said to find a secluded place, often deep within the woods, where it can be sure no one would unwittingly wander about while the upper body is away hunting. The manananggal is said to devour and drink the blood of its victims. It is weak against garlic and will perish in sunlight if it doesn’t get to its other half by sunrise. The easiest way to defeat it is to find its lower half, pour in salt, ash, or garlic over the area where it separated its parts so that it cannot rejoin itself, and ultimately perish when the sun rises.


The Aswang is hard to describe, particularly because it is depicted differently in different regions across the archipelago. Most commonly, it’s said that it’s a vampire-like monster, sometimes  able to take the form of an animal, and fond of eating unborn babies. During the day, they are as normal as the next person. In the dead of the night, it will climb rooftops where a pregnant woman lives, dangle its tongue that elongates, akin to an insect’s proboscis, to suck in the fetus out of the sleeping mother’s womb. It is said that it makes a ticking sound, hence, this particular aswang is known locally as a Tik-tik.

Fun fact, the popular Grimm TV series has featured Aswang in one episode.


The Kapre is a giant being who lives in trees and likes to sit atop its branches at night smoking his equally big tabako (cigar or tobacco). The trees it picks are usually big – acacia or balete (banyan), but even lesser trees such as the kaimito (star apple) can serve as its dwelling. The creature is said to be bulky or muscular, clad in the traditional bahag and its body dark-skinned and hairy.

Unlike other creatures, Kapres are not typically harmful, though they are usually fond of pranking travelers. And many a story tells of Kapres falling for human maidens, following them around even if they relocate, promising riches beyond belief.

I know two people who swear they’ve had first-hand encounters with this creature. One, a girl who was sent on an errand at dusk, saw the ember of something burning at a yonder tree. Thinking it strange, she stood by observing what it was, only to be gripped with terror when she finally saw what’s holding the thing that is glowing. The other, a farmer on his way after a long day at the farm. Riding atop his carabao in a dark road, he noticed the animal is becoming agitated as they were approaching a kaimito tree by the roadside. The farmer saw something glow atop the tree, but paid no mind to it. Smack! He felt a giant hand hit him by his back causing him to fall off. It was then he saw the giant, rearing for another blow. Keeping his calm and his wits, he told the creature to have pity on him as he’s been working hard throughout the day and is only passing by, eager to come home to his wife. He apologized if he had offended the creature and supplicated to let him go on his way. The giant did.


If you’re travelling in the woods and you hear a baby crying, chances are you are being tricked by one of these creatures. The tiyanak likes to take the form of a helpless baby in order for them to attract their victims’ attention. The traveler will hear a baby’s cry and taking pity, will take it with them. Once brought home, it will sneakily attack the members of the household, sneakily killing and devouring – only revealing its true self when it’s too late for the victims.

Christians believe the tiyanak is what happens to a baby who has died before it was christened.

White Lady

The ghost of a woman who is often the victim of a gruesome crime that resulted to her untimely death, the White Lady is a popular myth everywhere in the country. White Lady encounters, despite the scary experience of meeting a ghost, are usually non-fatal. However, accidents do happen especially when it decides to show itself to drivers on a darkened road.


In Greek Mythology, there is the Minotaur, a half—man, half-bull creature. In Philippine folklore, a similar creature exists, with a horse replacing the bull part.

The Tikbalang is a magical creature, and many believe that its whiskers can serve as anting-anting (talisman) that brings the bearer luck. The creature lives in forests, and likes playing with people by confusing them and getting them lost. They say you can counteract the disorientation by wearing your shirt inside-out, or politely asking the unseen creatures to let you pass without harm (“tabi-tabi po”). Other versions depict them as evil, able to kill people with their hooved feet, especially when antagonized.


Posted: October 12, 2015 in Blurbs

Ghost stories frightened me as a child. Storied accounts of ghostly experiences, exchanged in candle-lit nights at a time when electricity was as reliable as a drunk contractor, would switch my mind’s imagination into hyper mode.  I’d lie awake in bed, and the eerie sounds that nighttime lends to even the most innocent of events, such as the rustle of the wind against the leaves of the tree outside, or of the soft hoot of a nesting bird, or a creak of the wooden panels, would jack up the monsters in my mind, until sheer exhaustion sets in. 

Today, those monsters no longer dwell in my head – long vanished with the realization that comes with growing up. Those beasts that my youthful mind conjured in the dead of night that had so frightened me back then, they’d tremble at the face of the real monsters that have revealed themselves in my adult life. 

These monsters are the ones I should be vigilant about. Made of flesh and bones, with corrupted minds and motivations I shall perhaps never understand, they are infinitely more terrifying than whatever an overactive imagination of a child can dream of, for they are real, alive and breathing, and therefore can inflict real pain and suffering. That’s what makes them not just frightening, but outright dangerous.

Battling these monsters is a taxing endeavor. But know this, no monster is going to bring me to my knees, mark my word!