When I was a kid, we were always advised not to go out during Holy Week (as a form of penance). So when we stayed at home, aside from Biblical movies on television, there are also horror movies that depict exactly why you wouldn't want to go out on Holy Week.
One of these movies was the horror/thriller film Tiyanaks. It tells the story of a group of college students and their religion professor going on a Holy Week retreat. They got lost and misdirected into a remote location. Their only shelter for the week was a creepy looking house inhabited by a mother and son.
Direct translation: The return of evil... more, faster...
nobody can escape the Tiyanaks.
Now, this boy had three other playmates. But due to the college students' arrival (they were referred to as 'dayo') the boy didn't play with his mates anymore. The three other playmates reverted into their original form of hideous monsters - tiyanaks - to seek vengeance on the dayos.
What are Tiyanaks?
In this movie, they were the young kid's playmates who died in the fire. They weren't given a proper blessing and burial, so their spirits remained on earth as some sort of poltergeist.
In folklore, Tiyanaks are considered to be children of Aswangs (vampire-like creatures). The stories vary. In other instances, they are believed to be vengeful spirits of aborted babies or infants that died in childbirth, which again, aren't given proper baptism and burial. Hence, they come back to haunt the living.
But wait, how do I know when I encounter a Tiyanak?
Most provinces and barrios in the Philippines still believe in these creatures. So when you come as a tourist in a remote location, the townsfolk will warn you about potential dangerous beings - seen and unseen - that you may encounter. One such warning is to beware hearing a baby's cries out of the blue. These are ploys so that your primal instinct will kick in and rescue the child. When you're near, the baby will then transform into a Tiyanak and suck you dry. Of course, it could be a real human baby, but it would be a freaky instance if you've been warned about it and you hear it near twilight.
How do I ward off and/or defeat a Tiyanak for good?
Holy water, fire, and baptism are amongst the ways to kill a Tiyanak.
If there is one thing we can be thankful for from the colonization in the Philippines, it has to be Christianity. In the past, though our country already had established religions coming from early settlers, we were mostly animists. We worshiped anitos (idols), spirits, and nature.
In Tiyanaks, the students couldn't defeat the Tiyanaks because during the attacks (during Holy Week), Christ was believed to be suffering and or dead.
Things used to kill a vampire and a Tiyanak are similar. The students were only able to defeat the Tiyanaks with the use of traditional ingenious things like garlic, salt, and holy water.
The last student was dragged by a water Tiyanak to drown her, and she was barely able to hold on. That is, until she remembered John The Baptist's story. Thus, the Tiyanaks perished, including the strongest water Tiyanak - just in time for 'Linggo ng Pagkabuhay' or Easter Sunday.
Going out to have fun on Holy Week, particularly on Good Friday, is already considered bad luck in superstitions (we were taught that this is the time of reflection). And movies such as Tiyanaks cements that particular warning.
I must say, based on superstition or not, horror movies set on Holy Week definitely left an impression on me to just stay at home and reflect!