A Guide to Filipino Myth/Folklore Terms.. and then some

Aswang - most aswangs are depicted as animorphs and carnivorous.  It was also said that Aswangs never attack their neighbors as they do not want their cover blown.  So if your neighbors are aswangs, be thankful!  If not, make sure to have garlic around your house as it is said to repel aswangs.

Chupacabra -  a Spanish goat-sucking animal... oh wait!  Wrong site.

Dinuguan - a Filipino cuisine with pork and blood as main ingredients.  My Mexican-American brother-in-law tried and loved it.  We didn't tell him the ingredients; we didn't want to completely turn him off. 

Dwende/Duwende - they are translated as dwarves in English.  They are small beings usually dwelling in punso (in english, termite hills?) and shouldn't be bothered as they might hex you.  There are usually two kinds of dwendes:  The Itim (black) and Puti (white).  Itim na Dwendes (Black Dwarves) are depicted as non-friendly creatures and could cause someone harm while Puting Dwendes (White Dwarves) are generally kind and reasonable BUT could still be harmful when offended.  It is usually considered respectful to ask for passage to Dwendes when one is in the jungle/farm/place where trees, grass are abundant.  You might easily kick and step on them, they being so small and all, and before you know it, you are hexed! 

Kapre - giant dark creatures living in trees.  They are usually depicted as chewing tobaccos.

Manananggal - the most interesting Filipino Character for me.  The nearest Manananggal kin in English is Vampire.  Manananggals are usually depicted as women (I've never heard of a man manananggal) and they are said to be beautiful and they always keep to themselves.  They usually live in Nipa Huts (the creepiness factor would wear off if they live in a sprawling mansion) and wear old-fashioned Filipino wear -- blusa and saya.  In the morning, they are normal human beings but during full moon, they grow fangs, leathery wings and could detach themselves!  They hunt and feed while their lower halves are stationed near their house and they must go back and reattach themselves before the sun rises.  Failure to do so will cause their deaths.  Knowing this, the best way to kill a manananggal is to pour salt on their lower halves... if you have the courage to find it.  Salt prevents the upper and lower bodies of manananggals to reconnect making them susceptible to sun. 

Multo - the Filipino term for ghost.  Most extra characters I draw are multos.  They are easiest to draw.

Sirena - Filipino mermaid.


Tikbalang - the "centaur"-like Filipino character with a twist.  Tikbalangs have the head and lower bodies of a horse but their torsos are human-like.  They are creatures living in the woods and could cause weary travelers to get lost and move in circles.  The best way to move out of this "twilight zone" is to put on your shirt inside-out.  Almost did that once when my family and I were in a roadtrip and we seemed to be moving in circles.  Hey, it wouldn't hurt!  Also, there is a belief that whenever it is drizzling and the sun is shining at the same time, there's a couple of tikbalangs being wed.  Doesn't make sense.

Tiyanak - cutie babies who usually dwell on grass-covered fields and cry pitifully until a childless couple "adopts" them.  Once safe in the haven of their new homes, they turn into Chuckie-type little fellas with red eyes, tiny, pointed teeth, and secretly kills whoever is in the household.  Their main weapon is their ability to change from monster to cute babies... people hesitate when killing innocent-looking creatures.  But I would probably be like, "Kill, kill, kill!"

White Lady - I know it's not obvious but I have one White Lady Character.  The Principal!  Anyway, the term White Ladies might be English but the origin is Filipino.  They are lady ghosts who had tragic deaths, mostly due to rape.  Because of this, they want to find peace but couldn't do so and mostly scare the pants off of people!  When encountering a White Lady, it's probably best to contact a spiritualist(??) or a priest or somebody who could talk to them and help them find peace.

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