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Map of the Philippines

An extremely brief primer on Filipino mythology


Context

This is based on Filipino Mythology primarily as presented in comic books. Trese (by Budgette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo), The Mythology Class (by Arnold Arre) and Skyworld (by Mervin Ignacio and Ian Sta. Maria) were amongst the most referenced comics. But the original tales were also referenced as much I could dig up from varying anthologies.

Many Filipino comic books draw from the rich mythology of the indigenous culture of the Philippines. Unlike many other mythological cultures, these creatures can be unfamiliar to a wider audience and may need some explanation.

This can be further complicated by the confusion that Filipinos themselves seem to have about some of these creatures, which often seem to get confused for one another or have names changing meaning from one island/province to the next. Finally, the colonization of the Philippines by Europeans (especially the very Catholic Spanish) has obscured some of these creatures even further.

While it would be impossible to catalog all the different creatures that pop up in Filipino mythology, here are some of the more famous creatures. This is a short reference intended to serve as a jumping point for more research.

As my understanding of these creatures grows (and more of them show up in more comics) this document will likely grow and be refined, some may even end up with write-ups.


Content

Cosmology: The Three Worlds

Filipino Mythology is primarily divided into three “worlds.”

Trese makes frequent references to the Underworld (Kasanaan sometimes also called Impiyerno in traditional stories). This is the world where supernatural creatures come from. Though usually associated with the various Aswang (monsters), some of the encantos (all enchanted creatures, including fey) may also come from this world. This would be the world of magic that exists behind the veil of reality.

In game terms it is one of the Magic Lands on the dimensional map next to The Realm of Faerie. The Christianized version of this world gains associations with Hell which may mean that it’s actually closer to the Afterworlds.

The second world is Terre Mundo which is the Earthly realm we live in. The third is Skyworld (Kaluwalhatian). This is a heavenly world exists “above the sky” and is where some of the old heroes and gods reside. In game terms this would likely be one of the Afterworlds, possibly close to Heaven.

Balete tree — This is more commonly known as the Banyan tree or the “strangling fig” tree in English. This species of rubber tree can grow to an immense size and is said to be closely connected with the supernatural world.

It often serves as the home of one of several types of creatures, especially the Kapre or Diwata. It seems to have special significance to the supernatural world and may serve as a doorway of sorts between worlds.


Fey Creatures

While they might not be described this way originally in Filipino Mythology, these creatures would fit right in with the Faerie Realms and seem to display a lot of similar traits normally associated with the fey. Since Europeans influenced the Philippines through colonization, some people do refer to them as fey or fairies.

If you are using Underworld to equate more with Hell than the supernatural in general, then these creatures would reside mainly in a sub-realm of Faerie. If you are using the faerie “courts” in your game, the Filipino version would be more tribe-like and might have some variances on the seasonal aspects since the Philippines is a tropical country. 

Appearance:
As with Western fey creatures, the appearance of these creatures can vary wildly depending on the specific creature encountered. Some appear as unearthly attractive humanoids. Others have more bestial or nearly monstrous forms. It depends on the creature in question.

Personality:
This too, seems to reflect Western fey. These spirits are traditionally either elementals of nature, or beasts tied to the land in some way. They generally should be treated with respect and good manners are worth their weight in gold when dealing with them.

Common Powers:
One of the most common powers amongst the fey creatures in the Philippines is the ability to make people disoriented in the wilderness. They will often lead travelers astray and deeper into the wilds. Sometimes this is accompanied by a sort of time disorientation. People who have felt lost for hours have found their way to discover months or years have passed and vice versa.

Considering their fey-like nature, this could be a side-effect from traversing the natural dimensional portals leading to and from the Realm of Faerie or other realms where these creatures reside; or perhaps illusory powers are as common to them as glamour is amongst the Celtic Fey Folk, or both.

Interesting Notes:
It would seem that all the supernatural creatures in Filipino Mythology including the fey abhor salt. For some this is stronger than others but a ring of salt will at least slow down most of the creatures of Filipino myth.


Diwata (Anito)

Most specifically, Diwata are fairy-like spirits similar to dryads or nymphs who reside in trees (especially the acacia and balete). They are considered to be guardians of natural areas, much like dryads and nymphs are guardians of forests and lakes.

They are very much associated with being fey and could easily be compared to powerful Sidhe.
Much like the word “fairy” can refer to a specific type as well as a wider classification of supernatural beings, so can Diwata (and Anito which originally referred to deities and ancestor spirits). They are quite similar to the Sidhe of the Faerie Realm in the DC Universe.

When referenced as a general class, these beings range from powerful deities (up to and including Bathala the Skygod) to simple nature spirits. This blurred line between god and powerful spirit of nature just shows how powerful all Diwata can be considered, but may be geographical in nature. Stories from some parts of the Philippines seem to reference these beings synonymously while other provinces and islands make a stronger distinction between the two.

Appearance:
Diwata generally refers female nature spirits, except when it is used to apply to gods like Bathala. They are usually flawless, ageless beauties with no wrinkles but have been known to appear in other forms. The lack of a philtrum (the ridge on your upper lip) is considered their most distinguishing characteristic.

They are said to have fair skin though this varies with the individual. When referring to the wider class of beings, the appearance can vary depending on the specific being within the class.

Personality:
As protectors of nature, Diwata are powerful enchantresses who are usually associated with the geographical region that is their domain (such as Mariang Makiling and Mt. Makiling). Usually, they are helpful to the people and the villages surrounding the area, providing them with food during hard times as well protecting them.

However, if shown disrespect, they can become quick tempered, turning food to stones or men into animals. Some have been said to withdraw their charms entirely when slighted, not being seen again for hundreds of years.

Common Powers:
Diwata are typically the mistresses of their neck of the woods (sometimes literally). They know the flora and fauna and are aware of any changes (an animal being killed in a hunt or flowers/fruit being picked). They seem quite adept at turning one thing into another (fruit to rocks, ginger to gold, men to animals) and to be elusive if need be.

They can make their dwellings appear in numerous ways and it’s said no one can find their way back to a Diwata’s home unless she allows it. Some of this may be illusory; however, when dealing with the more powerful Diwata that double as deities, this could be assumed to be virtual omnipotence within their realm of control.

Interesting Notes:
There are several famous Diwata who have quite a few stories written about them. They all seem to be associated with mountains and are almost as often referred to as deities (demi-goddesses) as Diwata. The first two also seem to have tragic love stories associated with them.

Mariang Makiling is the Diwata of the mountain which shares her name. There is a famous National Arts Center camp, Boy Scout Camp and University of the Philippines campus here. 

Maria Sinukuan is the Diwata of Mount Arayat (an active volcano with a national park).

Maria Cacao is the Diwata of Mount Lantoy who is said to be riding her golden ship during floods in the area.


Engkantos\Encantos (Engkantada [feminized])

Like “Diwata,” this term can, when used most specifically, refer to a type of nature spirits, in this case male water spirits. However, also like Diwata, this has become more commonly used as a reference for any of the fickle but powerful supernatural entities very similar to elves or fairies.

This has become the most common use of the word and in this usage can apply to both male and female entities including Diwata. It is also sometimes referred to as the masculine form of the word Diwata.

Appearance:
Engkantos are said to be very tall (or occasionally very short), very fair and very attractive. These and other features are similar to Tolkien elves. They often are said to have blue or green eyes and golden hair (highly unusual colors amongst humans in Asia) along with high-bridged noses, but this may be an adaptation from colonial times. Also like Diwata, they lack a philtrum.

Personality:
The behavior of Engkantos varies from story to story and likely from one Engkanto to another. Some things, however, are common. Engkantos must be treated respectfully and with caution. They are not human and can seem quite fickle. They are capable of giving blessings or curses to those whom they feel have treated them well or those who have slighted them.

They can be quite vengeful if wronged, even if it’s only perceived. Even if they like a person, they may whisk them away or even kidnap them if their attention is not reciprocated. However, if they are treated well, they can be quite generous and bestow riches or power upon their friends.

Common Powers:
Their power may seem virtually limitless depending on the story. Certainly they are capable of curses that cause all sorts of maladies and distress possibly even causing disease. The specific powers and power level likely varies from one Engkanto to another.

Interesting Notes:
In Christianized times, the nature of the Engkantos has changed somewhat. Some legends say they are fallen angels that did not fall with the rest of the host to hell (for they were not completely evil) but instead fell to Earth. Like almost all supernatural entities in the Philippines, they have a hard time crossing salt. Albinos are believed to be children of Engkantos.

Most supernatural creatures in Filipino Myth has a strong dislike of salt. While it may not burn Engkantos and Diwata like it does Aswang, they generally abhor it and any ritual seeking to contain or repel such a creature would likely have salt (or something with a high salt content) as a component.


Tikbalang

Appearance:
A Tikbalang is somewhat reminiscent of a Minotaur; however, instead of a bull’s head and physical traits, Tikbalang have horses’ heads and features. Often they are described as having unusually long limbs and when they sit, their knees reach above their head.

In many of the Filipino comics they are portrayed as being very tribal and often have tribal tattoos and loincloths as well as ancient weapons.

Personality:
They love challenges and will grant favors to those who can defeat them in a race or other physical challenges. They can be friendly, but like many fey creatures they are also tricksters and have been known to enchant, seduce and/or kidnap young maidens to satisfy their proportionate libidos. 

Often these creatures are encountered as guardians of bridges and thick groves, especially bamboo. They could be used similar to “bridge trolls,” demanding that someone defeat them or bribe them in order to pass over their bridge or through their grove. Sometimes they can also be found in hot springs, they are said to bathe in these during the full moon.

Common Powers:
Tikbalang are incredibly fast, and they are often depicted as excellent archers. Sometimes Tikbalang are said to be able to grant wishes, and in other stories are said to be able to disappear into a cloud of falling rocks. In still others, they can take humanoid form, usually the appearance of someone close to the traveler they are harassing. Occasionally, their manes also have razor sharp spines.

A tikbalang pulling a rickshaw

According to some stories, they share similar powers and personality to a Kapre such as the ability to turn invisible (occasionally even given the Kapre’s love for cigars). This may be storytellers confusing the creatures, or perhaps the two races have exchanged magical tricks and other commerce with one another. 

As with the other fey creatures, they are known to cause disorientation that could be just a function of their environment if they are from the realm of Faerie and that this is a side-effect of moving into and out of said realm. Certainly, many fey creatures (and those in Filipino mythology) seem to have this ability, but Tikbalang are considered to be masters of it.

The have been known to drive some poor souls insane after becoming so lost in their illusions. This ability has not been shown in the comic book Tikbalang, so it may only be true of those guarding the paths to the Faerie realms or perhaps just the shamans of their people since the depictions appearing in the comics seem to focus on tribal warrior types of characters. 

Interesting notes:
It is said that being quiet in forest so as not to disturb or turning one’s clothes inside out is a way of avoiding the ire of a Tikbalang (since the trickster finds the inside-out clothing humorous). 

If one can find the golden hairs in their mane and pluck them, it is said that Tikbalang can be controlled and perhaps will even grant wishes; other stories simply have this as a result of being able to outmatch it in a contest or wresting a stone from their person. The Mars Ravelo superhero Flash Bomba acquired his powers in this fashion. In Trese, she defeats a Tikbalang in a race and gains three “favors” as a reward.

In some provinces, Tikbalang are considered Aswang and are of a demonic nature. Perhaps these stories are created by separate tribes of Tikbalang, individual Tikbalang who’ve made dark pacts, or perhaps they’re simply a different breed from the more trickster type.


Kapre (Capre)

Appearance:
Kapre are huge humanoids often described as giants with eyes the size of dinner plates. They live in the branches of large trees (especially the Balete) and love to smoke cigars. They have dark skin, lots of hair and, depending on the teller of the tale, might resemble western ogres or may look more like Sasquatch and Yeti.

Personality:
Kapre are primarily brutish beings with human level intelligence. While not necessarily evil, they sometimes have been known to kidnap maidens they are enamored with. If their interest is willingly reciprocated, they can be quite loyal friends and will follow their love-interest wherever she goes as an unseen protector. 

Common Powers:
Kapre sometimes have magical belts which allow them to turn invisible to humans, leaving only the smell of tobacco and the glowing embers from their cigars. In this way, they can be said to resemble Western will-o-wisps.

They also have the ability to disorient travelers, making them lost for what seems like hours when, in fact, days have passed. This seems likely a form Dimension Travel putting their victim in the realm of Faerie (or a nearby related dimension) or possibly illusions of some sort. Considering their size, they are also likely to be quite strong if a physical confrontation should occur and in some stories can control their size to grow even larger.

Interesting notes:
According to some stories, Kapre carry a small stone about the size of a quail egg. If one can get this stone from a Kapre, he may grant a wish in order to get it back. They also seem especially fond of dancing maidens, and are easily charmed by them.


Duwende

In some stories Duwende are a separate race and in others Nuno and Laman Lupa are simply another Duwende.

Appearance:
Duwende is Spanish for “dwarf” and these creatures resemble small dwarves or gnomes who dwell underground, in trees, or sometimes take residence with humans who leave them offerings. They stand about 3-6 inches tall and usually have white, grey, or black skin. In some descriptions they only have one eye and one nostril.

Personality:
The Duwende could easily be substituted with the elves from the fairy tale about the elves and the cobbler. When treated well and left offerings (particularly sweets, fruits and chocolate), they will help the land and those kind to them become prosperous with their enchantments. Usually somewhat benevolent, they have been known to be quite helpful “house spirits.”

However, if you cross a Duwende or are rude, they can be quite spiteful. They are also said to love minerals and gold much like classic fantasy dwarves or leprechauns. 

It’s very important to note that politeness, offerings, and following the form of the old ways is very important to Duwende and their ilk. So if one minds their manners when encountering a Duwende, they will likely receive aid and information. If one is rude, bad luck and curses of all sorts will befall them. 

Common Powers:
The often invisible Duwende are said to be able to bring good or ill fortune. In some stories this is associated with their color (white for good luck, black for bad). Those cursed by Duwende have been known to hallucinate and fall into near comatose states. In Trese, it’s common for Duwende to take familiars of humans and to make sure they are incredibly successful in their profession in return for the emotions humans bring (and offerings).

Interesting Notes:
In Trese, it seems the Duwende feed off the emotions of their familiars and items imbued with strong negative emotions, like tears, are potentially poisonous. In most versions of their stories, they are repulsed by salt like most supernatural creatures.


Laman Lupa

In some sources, the Laman Lupa is virtually synonymous with Duwende, except they always live in the earth rather than sometimes taking to homes as house spirits. The version presented here is primarily from Trese which follows other traditional tales, in which they are basically earth elementals that serve the Duwende.

Appearance:
Basically, these are mud elementals. Usually they are roughly human sized (or slightly smaller) but can grow by absorbing more earth into themselves. They also produce a pungent, earthy odor when they manifest.

Personality:
In some traditional versions, they would be like other Duwende. In Trese, they’re basically dumb brutes that act primarily as body guards (and possibly brute labor). If they feel the Duwende are threatened, they will attack.

Common Powers:
As earth elementals, they can draw on the earth to heal themselves and are quite strong. They are virtually unstoppable as long as they are in contact with the ground, as they will absorb more earth to keep coming back.

Interesting Notes:

While the Laman Lupa presented in Trese are very strong, they’re also practically mindless.


Nuno sa Punso (means Ancestor of the Anthill)

While being very similar to (and often confused with) the Duwende, it would seem from most of the portrayals I’ve read that the Nuno sa Punso is a different creature. If you want to make them the same, one possibility would be that these creatures are elders or nobles (or both) of the Duwende, as it is said that the Nuno are the “true owners of the land.”

Appearance:
Much like Duwende, they are diminutive humanoids and gnomelike in appearance. However, when seen Nuno usually appear as old men said to wear hats and have long beards.

If you’re using the Nuno as Duwende nobility, it’s probable only the eldest Duwende get big hats and move into anthills (after all Human nobles in Europe wore big pointy hats and moved into castles). Like Duwende, they are sometimes described as having only one eye and nostril.

Nuno is the name of a dwarf/gnome-like creature in The Mythology Class that does not have a beard, but since “Nuno” also means “ancestor (great-grandfather),” it’s possible he was a Duwende, an ancestor spirit, or some other creature being addressed with respect, rather than a true Nuno sa Punso.

Personality:
Like the little differences noted in appearance, the Nuno have personality traits sometimes associated with the Duwende but are almost always true of the Nuno. For one, as the name indicates, they almost always live in (or at least near in Trese) anthills. They usually wear hats resembling the tops of the anthill and are very possessive of the land surrounding them.

They are often referred to as the “true owners” of the land, and one is well advised to say “tabi tabi po” which basically means “excuse me, so I can pass” whenever encountering their lands. If treated with proper respect, they can be approached. They may be helpful and have been known to possess great knowledge and wisdom, as is appropriate with their “elder” status.

Common Powers:
While they seem to possess the same powers as Duwende, their curses befall anyone who passes through their lands without paying proper courtesy. These curses seem, appropriately enough, to have great similarities to ant bites and other stinging insects.

In fact, it’s quite possible that the insects heed their call. If particularly offended, they can inflict even more virulent curses upon their victims including paralysis and even death (so Pym had better mind his manners!).

Interesting Notes:
In Trese there is a Nuno that Alexandra uses as a source of information. He moved out of his anthill into a nearby sewer main. His hat is the lid to the sewer main rather than the top of the anthill. 

Sometimes Nuno are associated with Aswang, probably by people who have been victims of their curses. As with most supernatural creatures, the Nuno are said to abhor salt.


Wind People

I haven’t found much and these wind elementals in direct reference in traditional stories, though it seems likely these entities would most commonly get referred to as general Anito or Engkantos rather than specific entities. This entry is primarily based on the pair of wind girls that appear in Trese.

Wind Girls flying with Trese's car

Appearance:
These appear most often much like other Engkantos being very attractive humanoids. They seem to always have wind-swept hair that works for them in a fashion sense. In their natural form, they appear as slightly translucent and made of air. 

Personality:
While bright, they are quite flighty. They also seemed to be obsessed with anything fast and love anything fun. Fast qualifies as fun! (A single Wally West would be in heaven meeting the girls from the Wind Tribes.)

Common Powers:
As air elementals, they seem to have control over air enough to push/carry a car and fly faster than a Tikbalang. They can change their appearance enough to disguise their true nature and appear human.

A tikbalang racing two wind girls

Interesting Notes:
While they can manipulate air, they are also vulnerable to the same manipulation as they are made of air. While not demonstrated, they are probably vulnerable to salt much like other supernatural creatures.


Sirena

Appearance:
These are the traditional mer-maids with beautiful female anatomy dominating their upper body and torso, and a single tail instead of legs who drove sailors crazy. While rare, the male form following this pattern is known as Sireno.

Personality:
They are said to be “Bantay Tubig,” or “guardians of water.” Much like the classic myths associated with sirens and mermaids, the Sirena were said to be beautiful and seductive and they love to tease sailors.

In some stories they lure sailors to a watery death. It is also said that the drowning of sailors by Sirena is somewhat isolated and caused primarily by overly amorous pursuers refusing to give up when the Sirena dove back down to the depths or that Sirena would squeeze the life out of sailors while trying to rescue them.

Other stories say that they would sometimes try to cause shipwrecks as a sacrifice to sea gods. Usually Sirena are considered the more benevolent sea-folk, and the Syokoy the more malevolent.

Common Powers:
In addition to their stunning beauty, they also have lovely singing voices (they are Filipina, after all). Naturally, the power to enchant and hypnotize sailors with their song has been attributed to these creatures.

Interesting Notes:
One famous Mars Ravelo character, Dyesebel, is a Sirena. In Trese, their ground bones are remarked to be a reagent even more effective than salt at trapping other spirits and Engkantos, possibly due to high salt content within their own bodies.


Aswang

Aswang are the evil monsters in the Philippines. Like “Diwata” the term “Aswang” (also spelled Asuwang or Asuang) has changed over time, originally based on the words meaning roughly “The Dog” (Aso Ang). They were a sort of ghoulish were-wolf who had to assume the form of a dog during the day. For more on this form, see below (Aswang as a Lycanthrope).

This is the use in The Mythology Class. Modernly the term is more often associated with vampires, particularly Manananggal. However, it is primarily used as a general term for all monsters, witches or other evil things that go “bump” in the night, much like the “boogeyman.”

In Trese, there are 4 tribes of Aswang. They make up the tribes associated with evil in the Underworld.

Appearance:
One common attribute to all the oldest stories about all sorts of Aswang is the ability to change their shape. However, they all appear to be normal humans (or dogs, in The Mythology Class) during the day. In order to tell if your neighbor is an Aswang, you can look for red eyes (from staying up all night). If you see your reflection in their eyes, it will be upside-down.

Finally, if you look at them upside down through your legs, their true form will be revealed. Most of the types are said to have a very long and sharp tongue they can extend and suck through, like a proboscis, to help them in their ghoulish habits. These stories are so common that the “dila” (tongue) is sometimes referenced almost like it is a separate creature.

Personality:
The Aswang are mainly considered evil for their dietary habits. According to the book “Creatures of Lower Philippine Mythology,” the generalized group can be divided into 5 main categories: “viscera-suckers” which usually eat internal organs like the heart, liver and also fetuses (a common delicacy amongst Aswang- making pregnant women prime targets), “blood-suckers” like Manananggal and other vampires, “flesh eaters” like the lycanthropic Aswang that primarily take the form of were-dogs and were-boars, and witches who use curses, called mangkukulam.

Other creatures have now started to be referred to as “Aswang” especially in pop-culture, even sometimes including multo (ghosts who were not originally usually considered evil in Filipino myth) and Syokoy (fish-faced merfolk who ).

Common Powers:
The most common power amongst all Aswang is the ability to change shape. Usually the shape is defined by the type of Aswang, but particularly powerful ones have gained the ability to take on other forms. Birds and bats are common, and some Aswang are even said to be able to take the form of their victims. They also have varying magical powers by type, but one common association is that they sound like they are getting farther away the closer they get.

Interesting Notes:
Like other enchanted creatures of the Philippines, salt is a good deterrent to Aswang (it can even burn their skin) and ginger can be used as a repellent (like garlic and Western vampires). To truly kill an Aswang, one must use a bamboo spear through its heart or kill it with a dried stingray’s tail (called buntut-pagi) or the spear of a swordfish.

In some movies, Aswang are repelled by garlic, but this seems to stem from confusion with Western vampires. Also, in all Aswang but the Syokoy, they reputedly can not swim, leading to a similar fear of crossing running water that seems to afflict undead in Western mythology.

Since the coming of Catholicism, holy water also had negative effects on Aswang (though some Filipinos have pointed out that holy water traditionally has a high salt content), in fact it was the exorcisms cast by the missionaries that helped them convert the Philippines: the locals saw how effective the missionaries’ faith was against demonic possession.

In one province, there is a god of evil called Aswang. Marvel comics took him as the god of evil and the Impiyerno (a Spanish word for Hell) for the Filipino Pantheon of gods. Capiz is a province most famous for having an abundance of Aswang and is held in similar esteem to Transylvania in Europe.


Aswang (as Lycanthropes)

All the classic standards regarding Aswang apply to the lycanthropic type.

Appearance:
Lycanthropic Aswang have the ability to change their form to massive dogs (were-wolf/dog) or boars (were-boars) and back, sometimes retaining the creature head in their humanoid form. Other than that, they appear as a normal person with all the tale-tell signs mentioned for Aswang in general.

Personality:
Lyncanthropic Aswang are said to consume flesh of bodies and have terrible breath because of it. They tend to hang around wakes or people in their sickbeds anticipating a meal. They can be quite savage especially when near a corpse, and have been known to lose control at a wake and go after dead and living alike.

Usually they are quite clever and will even replace the bodies they eat with banana trunk carved replicas. In some stories, they will crawl under bamboo houses and use their long tongues through the slats in the floor to try to drain pregnant women of their unborn children in their sleep.

Common Powers:
The lycanthropic obviously can change into a bestial form and back. While they most often are said to turn into a dog or a boar, in some stories their “dog” form seems to resemble something closer to Sigbin (see below) and this may actually be their true lycanthropic form, or a separate mythological creature whose form they sometimes can also learn to take. They often also have the classic Aswang powers, especially if particularly powerful, including the ability to take other forms and the forms of their victims.

Interesting Notes:
In The Mythology Class, the packs of Aswang there were were-dogs who had been cursed to look like small dogs during the day, allowing them their full power and shape-shifting abilities only at night.


Manananggal

These are primarily blood-suckers similar to Western vampires.

Appearance:
A mamananggal appears as a beautiful woman during the day, but is only half the woman she used to be at night. When the sun sets, her upper torso separates from her lower body and she sprouts huge, bat-like wings, allowing her to fly around looking for prey.

Similar to vampires, they grow fangs and claws and suck blood. The lower body simply stands, waiting for her return. Like other Aswang, they have an unusually long proboscis-like tongue they can use to drain blood by extending it through thatch roofs to get to their victims.

Personality:
Like other vampires, it somewhat depends on the individual. Some can be reasoned with while others are literally blood-thirsty monsters. They are usually associated with evil and prey on the weak, worship evil gods, and literally drink the blood of the unborn.

Two mananangals in the city

However, there are stories in Capiz of a sailor who discovered his hostesses were Manananggal. When his shipmates tried to destroy them, he stopped them citing the fact they had not harmed them. The Manananggal married him and made him a good wife, while her sisters hunted down the other sailors and tormented them until they made amends and married them. This is but one of many stories associating varying Aswang to this province.

Common Powers:
Manananggal are usually very powerful and sometimes have other Aswang as pets or servants. They can fly, are inhumanly strong and have sharp claws and fangs. They are said to have other magical powers in some stories in addition to the other powers associated generally with Aswang. In their human forms they can be very seductive as they are inhumanly attractive.

Interesting Notes:
In addition to the usual Aswang weaknesses, her unattended lower body is vulnerable. The Manananggal must reattach to her lower body before dawn, or they both burst into flames. If you discover her lower half at night, you can put salt, certain oils, or ash on the midsection to prevent her from rejoining it. You can also burn the lower body to ash.

In some stories, a Manananggal can not die (at least without destroying the torso as mentioned above) until her curse is passed on. There is a small, black chick within her that she must cough up and pass on to another. The chick must be burned to permanently destroy a Manananggal.


Syokoy (Shokoy or even Siyokoy)

In some stories, Shokoy are the male counterparts of Sirena while in others they are a separate race. If the former is true, it’s no wonder the Sirena used to be more enamored with passing sailors than with their own mates.

Appearance:
The Syokoy are hideous creatures with fish-like faces, gills, scaly bodies, sharp teeth and clawed, webbed hands. Sometimes they also have long tentacles. Occasionally they have a pair of human legs with webbed feet, but often they have long fish tails. They vary in color from brown or green to gray, much like the fish they resemble.

Personality:
In tales where Sirena are benevolent, the Syokoy take on all their malevolence and more. They like to drown sailors, cause shipwrecks and are said to eat them or sacrifice them to their own dark sea-gods. They are much more bestial and aggressive than Sirena but still possess a human level intelligence.

Common Powers:
The Syokoy are naturally excellent swimmers and physically powerful. In some comics, such as Trese, they are able to take more humanoid (though still a bit scaly and unattractive) forms and come ashore, but they will always stay close to the water. They are also able to command the more alien aquatic creatures to aid them, such as eels, octopi, squid and rays.

Interesting Notes:
Considering the salt content of sea water, this may be one of the few supernatural creatures in Filipino mythos totally unaffected by salt. In Trese they are one of the Tribes of Aswang. In other stories they are more like extremely violent fey guardians of the seas.

Syokoy are still very popular in the tabloids of the Philippines, including washed up bodies that theoretically are Syokoy.


Mangkukulam (Mambabarang)

This is a hexer and is a human who uses curses. Another term is Brujo/Bruja in Spanish.

Appearance:
Mangkukulam appear much as other humans. The only way to distinguish them is their red eyes, however if you look them in the eye, they are said to be able to curse you.

Personality:
This is basically a Filipino witch or sorcerer. These are not truly creatures as much as people who have become Aswang through magic and ghoulish acts.

Common Powers:
They have gained their abilities through use of dark magic and curses, often associated with beetles (especially the fungus beetle — this type of black magic is barang) using the bugs to send curses and to physically attack by having the beetles seek out the victim’s orafices.

They are also practitioners of voodoo, using dolls to cast curses on their victims. As with most mystics, they can craft herbal concoctions and potions effectively and cast spells to do things like control the weather or other effects. 

They can use magic to change their shape. In some stories they use magic to change their tongues into the proboscis-like Dila that they can use to drain victims like other Aswang. Though, these stories might be confusing another type of Aswang in disguise as human for a Mangkukulam.

Interesting Notes:
If you feel you have been victimized by a Mangkukulam (or a Nuno or other supernatural creature for that matter), you should visit the village Abularyo (witch-doctor) or Herbalario (herbalist) to counter-act their curses since normal medicine will seem ineffective. Babayan (village shaman, usually female) might have also been consulted during tribal times.


Sigbin (Segben)

Appearance:
The Sigbin is a dog-like creature that resembles a goat or a kangaroo with enormous ears that it can clap like hands. It is said to have much larger hind legs than front legs. Some say it resembles a chupacabra or a Tasmanian devil. In most accounts it is said to have large fangs.

Personality:
In some tales, this is the true form of the lycanthropic Aswang, in others it is a beast that Aswang keep as pets. It is said to be able to turn invisible, but goes out during Holy Week to kill children for their hearts (which is will make into a sort of amulet).

Common Powers:
This creature can suck the blood from one’s shadow while walking backwards. It can bring wealth and luck to its owners but how it does so is unknown. Other than that one would imagine that it is an effective supernatural carnivore.

Interesting Notes:
Since worlds where were-wolves exist generally contain both wolves and were-wolves, it seems possible that this is both the true beast-form of at least some lycanthropic Aswang in addition to being pets for them and/or other Aswang. 

This might be based on the real animal, the borneo-fox.


Tik-tik (Wak-Wak, Soc-Soc)

Appearance:
This is a bird with large, bat-like wings and talons or claws and a long proboscis-like beak or in some versions, no beak and sharp teeth. Some say its wings are also sharp as a knife

Personality:
Some believe this is another form Aswang can assume (particularly Mananggal), while others say this is more of an animal intelligence bird that Aswang sometimes use as pets. It hunts much like a Manananggal, landing on thatch roofs and extending a long tongue through the roof into sleeping victims for blood. Occasionally it will directly attack travelers in attempts to feast upon their heart.

Common Powers:
This creature’s many names come from the sounds it is said to make. Of the Aswang or their pets, this creature is the one most associated with sounding farther away the closer it gets.

If it is used as a pet or a form acquired by more intelligent Aswang, this may be where they get the same reputation. Obviously from its description, a direct physical conflict with this bird is also likely to be a bloody affair.

Interesting Notes:
The Ekek is one version of this creature that is sometimes described as simply the beaked form. Other descriptions make the Ekek more humanoid, like Manananggal who can not divide themselves to hunt.

By Adam Fuqua

Helper(s): BJ Recio, Wikipedia, Monstropedia, wikipilipinas, The Bahay ng Duwende website ; Wikipedia.

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