ByKarina Thyra, writer at
a Truebie, X-Men Fan, a fangirl of sorts, stalker. Twitter:@ArianaGsparks
Karina Thyra

I'm not a horror fan. In fact, I'm almost as skeptical as the next person when it comes to believing things that we can't see with our own eyes, or perhaps can't feel at a distance. However, we cannot ridicule people who do see or feel these spine-chilling phenomenons.

If movies already give the account of these sort of things, the real-life story must have felt like hell. The so-called sixth sense or third eye really can be considered as both a gift and a curse. Perhaps it depends on how strong you are spiritually. People who have third eyes can apparently see/talk to anonymous wanderers that regular people just pass by everyday (isn't that what we see in movies?). Science does not believe in the existence of ghosts, although the theory can neither be debunked nor proven to be true - we will all have varying degrees of skepticism on that matter.

Although the Philippines is heavily Christianized, superstitions still prevail in provinces. The Philippines is one of the countries that comprises various cultures and beliefs due to the numerous inhabitants or ethnic groups which resided to its different areas many years ago. The waves of ancient settlers across the islands have had a great contribution to the Filipino culture in present day. This includes customary beliefs, traditions, art, literature, religious practices and beliefs, and so on. All of these cultural traits have been passed through the generations, including tales and myths.

With this in mind, here are movies that tell the tale of the Philippine's mythological creatures and the documentaries of these beings.

1. Tiyanak (1988)

The trailer is from the 2014 remake of the 1988 horror classic starring Janice de Belen. In this remake, Judy Ann Santos takes on the role. The story is about a childless mother who decides to adopt a newborn her sister found. It takes the expression "a face only a mother could love" into a whole new meaning...

According to legend, if you hear an infant crying from miles away in a remote location, tread carefully. You don't know what's lurking in the woods at any point.

Though it has been blamed for the deaths of many who have been lost to the wilderness in the Philippines where the story is told, the legend is often laughed at by nonbelievers in the region. Still there are plenty of others who profess the dangers to be real to this day and prescribe travelers wear garlic or rosaries, and carry loud pots to bang while walking alone in the woods to ward off the malevolent creatures.

One time, while reading an old magazine, I stumbled upon a Tiyanak story from a letter-sender. She said that her aunt picked up this baby somewhere and her sister fed the baby her breast milk to the infant. Seeing as it was probably almost nightfall when they stumbled upon the child, the family decided to report the missing child in the morning. When the sender's second aunt fed the baby her breast milk, she grew paler. The baby was sucking her blood! Of course, they were terrified, but fortunately managed to make the creature vanish. The next day, they searched for an albularyo (a medicine man of sorts) and a priest to bless the area and give offerings.. The albularyo's ritual includes cutting a live chicken (with a specific color) at the place where they found the baby, and also they had the area blessed and smoked. After that, no further occurrences happened. They prayed for the soul of the malevolent spirits to lead them to peace. However, the other aunt lost one of her breasts.

I asked around if this story was true. The stories aren't just native in the provinces, nor are they just made up stories to scare people.

But, how do you kill a Tiyanak?

There are no specific ways to kill it as they're immortals and can rise from the dead. However, they can also be hurt by sunlight and garlic. Just like what I mentioned above, these creatures are usually deceased infants that aren't given a proper blessing and burial. So to prevent them from rising from the dead, give them a proper baptism and funeral.

2. Aswang (2012)

There are a lot of movies that have told the story of the Aswang. This movie is my favorite of them all.

The Aswang is by far the most prolific of the Filipino monsters. They're usually females. They're shapeshifters that can take on the form of pigs, cats, and vicious dogs at night. Some might say that this is a curse, or a hereditary disease. The stories and descriptions of the creature varies from region to region. One documentary I've seen showed a real-life Aswang who took control of her curse. Her mother was also an Aswang - but they're the ones who only feed on live chickens and other farm animals. She said it was given to her by her dying mother after she was made to swallow an anting-anting (a Filipino charm). It's to keep the line alive, I suppose. In other stories, these creatures are depicted as evil incarnates and nothing more. They're similar to vampires, but they aren't afraid of daylight.

Here is a documentary about a family who allegedly saw an Aswang.

How do you kill/ward off an Aswang?

Aside from a blessed rosary or crucifix, you can also use a stingray's tail as a dagger or whip.

Detecting and warding off Aswang can be done in a number of ways. People use a special bottle of oil extract (from boiled and decanted coconut meat, mixed with plant stems) to determine if an Aswang is nearby; the oil will boil or froth if the monster is nearby, and it will continue to do so until the Aswang leaves. Among things that can ward off Aswang are silver, salt, ginger, and coins. The silver is believed to have originated from western mythology, which makes sense considering the Aswang are closely linked to lycanthropes—werewolves. Salt is used to burn their skin, as it is believed to be a purifying agent in witchcraft. Ginger prevents the Aswang from arriving (much like garlic is generally believed to ward off vampires), and the coins prevent the Aswang from lifting snatching you up into the air.

Or if you're a non-believer of this myth, you can simply shrug them off as supernaturally strong cannibals... or something.

3. Duwende

The Duwende (dwarf/elf/goblin) is one of the most popular creatures in Philippine myth. Not only is it popular, it's also very real. There are a number of movies and TV programs that tell the tale of these mischievous creatures, like Si Pardina at Ang Mga Duwende, Komiks Presents: Da Adventures of Pedro Penduko, Wanspanataym. The latter used to tell stories that are really terrifying (before MTRCB meddled with the programs).

However, they aren't just stuff of legends. Duwendes commonly live in anthills or punso, and depending on how you treat the place where you live (and where they live) they could either reward you or punish you. There are two types of Duwendes - puti (white) and itim (black).The white Duwendes usually give luck and rewards (for example, if you're a good farmer and you have respect, they can reward you with a bountiful harvest), and the black ones love to play pranks on humans. They usually appear at night or from midday onwards (when it's peaceful and quiet) which is why it's discouraged to be obnoxiously loud during this time period in the countryside.

Here's a documentary about Duwendes and other entities.

How can you avoid pissing off a Duwende?

Now, I did say that this creature is the one I believe in most (even though I'm lucky enough to have never encountered one); I believe in them because my friends and relatives have had personal encounters. My great grandmother saw some when she was a child, whilst other family and friends did not see the creatures themselves, but were punished or meddled with at one point. One of my friends had boils, and my distant relative who was a toddler wanted to be taken by them (their house was near a punso and apparently, the Duwendes wanted a new playmate.) The Duwendes' punishments can be a myriad of ailments, from boils, twisted body parts, to swollen testicles. The victim can know this by going to the albularyo (if hospital doctors can't cure them) to know exactly what to do to appease the creatures. But to really prevent this from occurring, just be polite and be careful where you step, and if you think you're passing by their house, just say "tabi, tabi po" so you won't accidentally step on them.

4. White Lady (2006)

I saw this movie for the first time a year after it was released. It's not haunting anymore because I know of the actors, but eight years ago I thought this film was truly terrifying. I remember that time well, because I saw it before the 2007 Glorietta bombing newsflash. This is why the repeated phrases in the movie have stuck with me.

The White Lady is a real ghost or supernatural being. I interpret it as someone who has been betrayed (commonly in love), and died with hatred. Perhaps the phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" is applicable to this. Personally, I haven't seen one, and I don't know anyone who has.

In the Philippines, Balete Drive in Quezon City is a thriving place for ghosts.

How do you survive a White Lady?

The White Lady can't really kill you like a crazed criminal could. They'd terrify you, or lead you to accidents, but they won't kill you by touching you physically unless they're solid (not an apparition of thin air). Perhaps the best way to handle an encounter is to say some prayers...

Or just avoid going out into creepy, bushy places at night.

5. Mambabarang

I didn't even finish watching Mag-ingat Ka sa Kulam because I was put off, especially by the insects. Now, there's a difference between a Mambabarang and a Mangkukulam. The former uses insects as a medium to torture (and later kill) the intended victim. They take a strand of the victim's hair and tie it to bugs or worms in order to locate the victim and burrow itself inside their skin. It's gruesome! These insects are released after incantations, when they will search for their supposed victim and burrow under their skin, impregnating her. After some time, Matruculans return to the house to kill the pregnant mother, open her abdomen, and eat the growing fetus. Whereas, a Mangkukulam (bruho or bruha) only cast evil spells over their victim causing them pain. But, unlike in the case of the 'Barang, most people can do something about the pain.

Mambabarangs (a type of witch) are humans who, like Tom Riddle, turned to the dark side. They deserve a spot on this list because some witches (like how Salem townsfolk describe how "evil" a witch can be) are really terrifying. They can also just remember your face and name to take revenge on you, even without the use of your property. The kinds of Mangkukulam I'm describing here aren't the ones you'll encounter in the Wizarding World or 'good witches' you see in most family-friendly movies. Some could be more like Fiona Goode in AHS: Coven or as vile as the evil witches in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Mangkukulams and Mambabarangs are synonymous to those who use dark magic in voodoo.

Here's a documentary about a Mambabarang.

How do you avoid being cursed?

Keep in mind that Mangkukulams and Mambabarangs are humans. The best of them won't use their powers to harm other people just because they wanted to. Siquijor, a province located in the Central Visayas region is notorious for being the island of sorcerers. Here's a very good piece by musician Jim Paredes and his interview with a Mangkukulam.

If you're thinking of Mangkukulams as creepy or evil, think again! They're not all like Voldemort, but since I'm talking about horror movies here, it's worth noting that there are some who use their powers for evil. But, let's not focus on that. Just pray, stay humble and respect everyone so you don't piss off a Mangkukulam and you'll be fine.

To encapsulate everything about these fascinating and ubiquitous mythos...

I can say that, such peculiar creatures and stories that come from divisive areas of the Philippines are considered to be an important contribution to the richness of the country's cultural preservation. Thus, it adds on the escalation of Filipinos' value system to respect the existence of such entities of these so called "monstrous creatures" that might unconsciously be mingling with us.

What do you think of it? Do you have similar creatures in your area? Do you think these stories are just made up so people won't act like douche bags? Real or nah? You decide.


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