Mythical Creatures of The Philippines

(source: http://www.mysiquijor.com/MagicCreatures.html)

Of the Philippines


Agta, Bawa, and Ungo

The Agta look like tall huge black men and are practically naked. It’s magical character varies depending on the tree or building it inhabits. This is usually Santol or Balete trees or in Mangroves. The Agta is active during dark hours (from 8pm to 4am) and his activities include wandering alone in the night, walking towards humans, standing still and alone, and ordering fishermen not to fish. The Agta will push trees down to stop men and will punish when offended.  The Agta also likes to steal clothes and firewood. When not active, the Agta will smoke a large pipe or cigar while sitting on a tree.

Batibat (Iloko)

Mostly found in the Ilocos, the Batibat are most well described as huge fat women. It lives in a hole within a post (lamppost, telephone pole, tree stump, door post, part of the house’s frame, etc.). This post was once the tree where the Batibat lived in. The Batibat will sit on top of a sleeping person and suffocate him or her to death. She causes bangungot or nightmares which are then declared as the cause of death. It lives inside the houses of humans as long as there is a post there. It forbids humans to sleep near it’s home, which is why she kills them. They can be warded off by biting one’s thumb and / or wriggling one’s big toe during a nightmare.

Kapre (Tagalog, etc.)

The Kapre, like it’s cousin, the Agta, live in the Balete tree. It also wanders alone, and sits on trees. It also looks like a huge black man, with legs as large as the Acacia tree’s trunk and eyes as large as plates. While seated atop a tree, it smokes a large cigar. It makes a bird’s chirping sound but will also roar. The Kapre can change its shape and size. Most commonly, it will change into a banana plant’s trunk when fired at.

Mantahungal (Tagbanua)

The Mantanguhal lives in forests atop high mountains. It is cow-like in appearance but doesn’t have horns. It does, however, have a shaggy coat of hair, a monstrous mouth and tusk-like incisors. It is capable of ripping humans to pieces with these tusk-like incisors.

Pugot, Numputol (Iloko, etc.)

This self-beheading creature appears as a black gigantic man, dog, hog, chicken, and a host of other creatures. It dwells in dark places, abandoned and deserted buildings, the underworld and large trees, especially the santol, duhat, and acacia. It travels from one tree to another in various forms. It looks terrifying with its neck stump bubbling with blood, but it is not especially harmful though it will carry wayfarers off. It dances and eats as it walks. It is very voracious and it devours snakes and centipedes, crunching them it its mouth (it carries its head when it is beheaded). Its magical properties is quite harmful though. It can change form rapidly. It can also vanish and reappear at will. While it is the form of an animal, it emits flame from its mouth. The most harm it may cause is insanity.

Tikbalang (Tagalog), Tulung, Tuwung, Binangunan (Negrito)

The Tikbalang is sort of like a reverse centaur. It has a horse’s head and a man’s body. It is commonly black. There are very, very rare white ones which have greater magical property. It has long legs, clawed feet, and long hair. It is tall and hideous. It also has a large mouth, teeth and its nakedness shows that it also has large private parts. When it sits, its knees reach above its head. It lives in Balete trees, near hot springs, in nipa groves, or in Sterculia foetida– the pitcher plant. The Tikbalang is a dangerous creature. It brings sickness, death and other misfortunes. It also likes leading travelers astray (as with Kawayanan Forest). It will kidnap and murder women on occasion. It holds these women and other victims captive in a little hut within a bamboo grove. It has this thing about stealing rosaries from Christians. It will let people pass safely if they ask permission to do so done by saying “By your leave”.  When a person tries to ride it, it will dance to dislodge him or her. It is easy to know when a Tikbalang is near for its call: it goes “Tik-Tik”. It inflicts fever on its human victims. It will disappear in a dusty cloud and falling stones. It could assume any form and size it wishes which it uses to trick people. Its more powerful dangers are the ability to bewilder, blind, and cause insanity. It has a magic jewel (a kind of agimat) which is the source of its power. It will yield this in times when it is being captured.

The Dwarves

Calanget (Ifugao), Caranget (Gaddang), Carango (Ibanag)

Diminutive beings, the Calanget dwell in the ground – in a mound in woods and fields. The Calanget responds to the call of Shamans by making a whistling sound. The Ethnic Muggle Tribes regard the Calanget as the “true owner of the land”. It is a very bad idea to dig up its mound or dwelling for it will inflict harm on any that does.  And it can do much harm.

Lakay (Iloko), Matanda (Tagalog), Nuno (Tagalog, Hiligaynon),Sagay (Surigao), Duende (Spanish)

The Duende are best described as gray little old men. They are one-eyed, big-nosed, and have only one nostril. It lives in a house under a tree on a familiar hillside, an earth mound, a termite hill, or inside a gold mine. It’s dwelling contains rows of jars. The Duende will sometimes befriend a man and give gold and jewels to them but will impose secrecy.  It will ask for man’s help when it comes home with groceries. It eats rice, tubers, meat and chicken offered to it. When treated shabbily, it will kidnap the children of the people who treated it shabbily. It will play parlor games with the child if it is a girl but it will still disfigure her face as he does with all its kidnapped victims.  For children’s fresh blood, it will trade gold. Regardless of how the parents treat the Duende, the Duende will steal children at night.  Generally invisible, the Duende is angered when stepped on for it feels it’s being ignored and treated badly. He doesn’t seem to know that humans can’t see him. It will take revenge by causing wry mouth, blindness, and even death. If it has given gifts to that person, the gifts turn to cinders and dung. There is no known way to counteract the Duende except for making it forgive you.  It abhors salt and spices. And like a leprechaun, the gold it gives disappears after some time and must be spent quickly.

Lampong (Ilongot)

When first seen, it is one-eyed white deer then becomes two feet tall later.  It wears a tall, black, two-peaked cap. It is bright-eyed and long-bearded. It lives in the forest shepherding wild beasts, risking its life to save them.  It beckons men who shoot at these beasts. If someone tries to shoot at it, the first five tries will be without success, giving it time to escape, at least. But when it does get hit, it turns into a Duende, which by then will give it powers to inflict vengeance.

Laman Lupa (Tagalog), Omayan (Bagobo), Tawong-Lupa (Mindoro, Marinduque)

Invisible little people, the Laman Lupa live in the earth (burrows), in fields or hills. It is territorial and only lets people use its territory under certain conditions. The Laman Lupa live in communities and follows human trails out of hills. As territorial owners of the land, the humans of past gave them offerings before and after planting and harvest. It then partakes in the proficiency gifts. It accepts the offering of red rooster’s blood sprinkled on rice plants. It will destroy crops if not asked for permission by farmers to use “their” land. It abhors salt and spices.

The Elves

Aghoy (Waray)

The Aghoy are fair-haired, handsome, males or females resembling a 20-year-old person. They are barefoot and dressed like Muggle villagers. This is so because they dwell in forests and distant farms or a grove near village and they come to the village after dark. During this time, they reverse relative positions of people in bed and whistles to mortal friends. The Aghoy are friendly to humans who are friendly to them. The Aghoy visit human dwelling, eat human food, knock at their doors and give them medicinal herbs, roots and oils. Even through this, they refuse to sleep among and with humans.  The Aghoy can be seen and heard only by its friends. They guide people to locate lost articles. Accepting gifts from Aghoy takes great risks as dire consequences follow this. Therefore, take care even when the gifts are of medicine.


The Alan are mischievous half-human half bird, they usually live in forests and spend much of their time hanging upside down from trees. This is because they have fingers on their feet and toes on their hands. they are very friendly towards humans and in several Filipino legends have acted as foster parents to heroes.

Annani (Ibanag)

The Annani eat human food. They are appeased with pig, rice cake, coconut milk, sugar, basi (rice wine), cigar, and betel chew offerings. It eats the uncooked head of “kalabaw” or carabao (water buffalo).

Encanto (general, male), Encantada (female) (Agusan, Masbate, Waray)

The Encanto are blond, good-looking, and taller than ordinary humans. They have a high-bridge nose and no philtrum. It lives in large trees, especially the Balete tree, where it has “belongings”. It makes known its presence by exuding a fragrance. It is attractive when luring mortals, but grows ugly when back in its realm.

Kibaan (Iloko)

The Kibaan are fair-skinned, their mouths gleam with gold teeth, heels point forward and toes behind. They have long hair that reaches their feet, but are only as big as a two-year old child. They can be found in the Bangar tree, in bushes and small trees frequented by “alitaptap” or fireflies at night. By its frustration, it is kept in a mortal’s yard. It keeps the ground under its tree home well swept. It has a kitchen where a spicy odor emanates from after sunset.  It sings in small groups on vines in groves while strumming tiny guitars.  The Kibaan steal yam from fire, but is fooled by stones roasted in place of the tubers  .It gives mortal friends a magic pot, purse, hat, net chain, goat, whip and/or drum. These are similar to those made by the Pallocs.  Example, Magic Pot never empties of food.

Mahomanay (Bagobo)

Like the Kibaan, they are fair-skinned. They live in mountain trees. The Mahomanay are the guardians of animals – wholly beneficent spirits. They accept offerings of betel chew and leglets placed at the base of their tree-homes.

Magtitima (Bukidnon)

The Magtitima are invisible beings who live in balete tree woods. Unlike others, they give an offering of white chicken to mortals to signal that they may cut wood but if it is displeased, it will give people sickness.

Mangmangkit (Iloko)

The Mangmangkit are spirits who dwell in trees in forests. Its tree house must not be cut without permission. Or Else.

Palasekan (Ilongot)

The Palasekan are invisible and live in trees. It whistles to convey its message to people and stays close to human homes in the evening and early in the morning. It plays a music box. It is offended when its tree home is felled. It could be appeased with wine in cups placed on benches. The Palasekan are shrewd bargainers. They know the intimate secrets of humans, can foretell events and they guide mortals’ daily lives, warning people against danger.

Tahamaling (Bagobo)

The Tamahaling are described as females with a red complexion. They also live in Balete trees. They are the keeper of animals and are half-beneficent, half-maleficent.

“Spirits of the trees/woods”

These miscellaneous spirits are invisible, living in shrubs and trees, and big and small bamboo clumps. They must be warned in advance before their forest is cleared. They also give magic pots, purses, drums and whips, follow human trails. They give fish to kindly women, but deny fish to ones who cross them.  Being denied of fish is not the only punishment to those who cross them.


Though generally they wait for death to feed, but some will kill for food.  They really are quite disgusting.


The Aswang have many ghoulish aspects. It has a human shape and lives among humans. The term Aswang has been used as the general term for ghouls but specifically, it is another type of ghoul. It listens for sounds of death at 6 PM and leaves for his operations at 8 PM. The Aswang plans nocturnal its itinerary and then takes food home to feed his family. It is a man-eating corpse thief but eats liver of chicken and guts of old persons. It is able to hear sounds of death from great distance by special devices and is able to change corpse into pig carcass. The Aswang has learned that fresh kills are more to their liking and has taken to hunting. They can fly.

Balbal (Tigbanua)

They have a human shape with curved nails and long tongue and are domicile in Muslim villages. The sail through air like flying squirrel, tearing up thatch with nails and reaching down for prey with its tongue, “licking up” the corpse or body. They replace the corpse with a banana stalk that resembles the deceased.

Buso (Bagobo)

They are shadows. They dwell in big branches of trees in graveyards, making plenty of noise in cemetery at night, sitting in groups with other Buso while their children play around them. They dig up a corpse the night after burial and then eat everything but bones. They can be seen only at night if a certain ritual is followed. This must be done only if one can bear the terror involved.

Calag (Hiligaynon)

The Calag cannot be described for the slightest noise scares them away. They are known to burst the bellies of corpses by touching their coffins.

Ebwa (Tingguian)

It is an evil spirit. They can be kept at a distance off from the corpse by a constant fire and will go away after nine days and nights of this. This could be why some Muggles take vigil with candles for nine days.


The Manananggal, like the Aswang, hunt the living and eat their insides.  There are two kinds of Manananggal, one that only severs its head (self-beheading), and the other kind, which is scarier and more dangerous. This kind is the more common as the self-beheading one has almost died out. This one severs itself in half from the waist, grows bat like wings, grows ugly, grows claws, and fangs, then flies away in search of victims leaving its lower half in a secluded place. The Manananggal also dwell among humans like the Aswang and function as part of the community by day. The way to kill a Manananggal is by finding its lower half while it is active and putting salt and spices on it. This absolutely kills the Manananggal for the two halves are still somehow connected and they abhor salt and spices. They feed by hunting humans who stay out late or by using its long hollow tongue, sucking the intestines and organs of victims. It prefers the pregnant for it likes eating fetuses. A way for detecting the presence of a Manananggal (and indeed, aswang) is by placing a lit candle underneath your bed. You will see the creature if its above your roof, and then you can cut its tongue off with an itak or bolo knife, scaring it away.

Segben (Waray)

The Segben resemble a hornless goat with big, wide ears that clap like hands. They have glowing eyes, and perked-up ears. Their bodies have a pungent nauseating odor. They are white and they bleat (they really do look like goats). They appear only at night. They also eat squash blossoms, feeding in humans’   backyards. They linger near a dying person like carrion birds or beasts, and hasten the death by biting them or their shadow. They are invisible by day and vanish at great speed when seen at night.

Wirwir (Apayao)No description available, they wander “everywhere looking for the dead”.  They live on corpses they exhume from graves. They are tireless hunters.

Certain unnamed “evil spirits” (Various ethnolinguistic groups)

These evil spirits are invisible and dwell in large trees near cemeteries.  They steal corpses by replacing it with banana trunks. They are scared off by sobosob.

The Giants

Bungisngis (Tagalog)

The Bungisngis has a human shape. It has large teeth which are always showing, and its upper lip covers its face when it is thrown back. It is one-eyed, with two long tusks projecting from the sides of its mouth. It is a forest dweller. It has acute hearing. It demands the meat from carabao and seizes meat from them. It lifts the carabao and throws it knee deep into the ground. The Bungisngis is easily outwitted and quickly panics.

Buringcantada (Bikol)The Buringcantada dwell in a big house with an apartment, dining room, and ceiling. Its house is decorated with leaves and flowers. It dines at home with friends. It is easily fooled into thinking that a rope, axe head and the rumble of drums are the chest, hair and foot thumps of its human enemy.

Gawigawen (Tingguian)

It is a six-headed with a humanoid form and wields a spear and head-axe the size of half the sky. The Gawigawen have gigantic versions of man’s war implements.

Gisurab/Guisurab (Isneg), Guisorab (Apayao)

The Gisurab is huge and has a human shape. It lives in a cave or hill, house in the forest or near a town. When man-eating, the Gisurab kills and eats all men in the village. At times, the Gisorab is neighborly to humans (won’t eat them). It inhabits a house with a ladder to it, it has a clearing and granaries to store food in, it has a fire at home to give to fishermen who come for it. It speaks Isneg, like natives. It engages humans in diving contests. It owns a cooking pot. Like the Giant in nursery rhyme fame, the Gisurab says he smells a man, indeed, it has a very keen sense of scent. It also has an axe. In diving contests, it is easily tricked by humans in the division of spoils. When man eating, at times, it carries both a deer and a man he grabs to a cave and eats them both. The Gisuraboften goes about naked. It will hit its own leg and behead itself when children ask it or wishes them to do so.

Ikugan (Manobo)

The Ikugan are described as a huge, fierce men with skin covered with soft hair, have hands and feet, and a large, long tail.  They live in forest trees, displaying monkey-like behavior. They hang by the tail, lying in wait for human foes.

Source of information: Andrei Miller



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