Halloween season is afoot, and if you’re brave enough, it is the time to pay close attention to the monsters that haunt the nation.

Filipino mythology is more than the common stories about tiyanaks, tikbalangs, aswangs, and mananggals feeding on the human flesh; local folklore can introduce creatures far more terrifying and dangerous than what horror films portray. And these creatures are more familiar than we expect.

  1. Inhabiting the house by a river, this creature washes his hands of his own dirty work by ordering others to do it for him. By employing his very own death squad, he sits back, relaxes, and waits for his people to bring him the daily quarry. This Aswang is popular in the Bicol province, going by the name Agalon Hayopanbut doesn’t the entire world know him by his controversial remarks and uncouth mouth?
  2. This witch can talk. With her twisted words, she casts evil spells on humans and their perception of the truth. With a large cult of avid followers, she can start plagues so sickly, it’s almost like cancer. Known in the Tagalog, Ilokano, and Pampanga regions as the Mangkukulam, this creature serves only the weak minded and power hungry.
  3. This family of creatures is one we all have to watch out for. They’re wealthy and they own animals ordered to harm, steal, and kill on their behalf. These creatures have the power to command their sigbins to do just about anything for their own gain. Known in Waray as the Sigbinan, these creatures hold their sigbins in the palms of their hands. Powerful on their own, even more when they’re together, be wary of these creatures who are making their way back to more wealth and control, trying to clean their name, get college degrees for programs they didn’t finish, and deny their past atrocities all under our noses.
  4. These creatures are a classic breed of the self-interested. Dubbed the Laman Lupa in Luzon, Omayan in Bagabo, or Tawang Lupa in Mindanao, these invisible people live in clans and own large plots of land, which they only allow to be used by people under certain circumstances. Be wary for they like to receive offerings before and after planting and harvest and require gifts lest they render the land unusable by humans.
  5. The Tagalog Bungisngis is a one-eyed giant who is seen always laughing.  Spotted usually in forests and woods, this monster is strong but dim-witted and tends to have a happy and playful demeanor to those who encounter him.
  6. The Pangkilan coming from Palawan is a powerful breed of female aswang which can turn into big black boards. Cunning, strategic, and sly, these creatures are so powerful that they can corrupt humans and turn them into fellow aswang only with a kiss.
  7. Known to reside in old, large trees, this beast takes the form of an old man who eventually turns into a white rooster that can tower over humans. Known in Pangasinan as the Bantay, he is seemingly invincible and immortal, able to prevent humans from going near his tree or blocking his path.

Are you spooked yet? Whether or not you recognize these monsters, be wary of the rest of the menacing creatures that lurk our streets– the beasts ready to take our taxes, ravage our homes, or claim our lives.

God knows many of them are more powerful than we think.

This article is from Tinig ng Plaridel’s November 2018 print issue. Read the rest of the print articles now on Issuu!

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