Myths and Folklore Wiki

Philippine folklore, unlike Greek or Roman mythologies, has not been organized into a formal pantheon, does not generally contain long epics, nor has it been relegated to history. To this day, Philippine myths still have an active role in the lives of rural Filipinos. The countless myths circulating throughout the Filipino countryside contain a large variety of mythical creatures. Although there is no scientific evidence for any of these creatures, there is also no shortage in the rural parts of the Philippines of people who believe firmly in their existence. This discrepancy is sometimes rationalized by the explanation that only pure and good mortals are able to see these creatures.

Philippine mythical creatures

Aswangs are shapeshifting evil spirits. Aswangs can change from a human to an animal form, usually as a bat, a pig or a black dog. Some aswangs can change form at will, others through the use of foul oils concocted by evil magicians. Aswangs appear at night to prey upon unwary travellers or sleeping people. It is said that they have a peculiar liking for the taste of human liver, hearts, or developed fetuses. The myth of the Aswang is popular in the Visayas, especially in provinces such as Capiz, Antique, and Iloilo.

Diwata Diwata, engkantada (from Spanish: encantada, "enchantress, charmed") or engkanto (from Spanish: encanto, "spell, incantation, charm") are fairies, nymphs, goddesses or enchanted persons who are believed to guard natural creations such as forests, seas, mountains, land and air. Diwatas are said to reside in large trees, such as acacia and balete. They are the guardian sprits of nature, bringing blessings or curses upon those who do good or harm to the forests and mountains. One famous diwata is Maria Makiling, guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna province. Engkanto (sometimes spelled Encanto) is an umbrella term for most supernatural beings. The common connotation is that they are fairies who reside primarily in the forests and the sea. They can also be called encantado (male) or encantada (female).

Duwende Duwende are goblins, hobgoblins, elves or dwarfs (Spanish: "duende" golbin, elf, charm; "duen de (casa)"; owner of the house). They are little creatures who can provide good fortune or bad fate to humans. In the Philippines, duwendes frequently live in houses, in trees, underground, termite like mound or hill, and in rural areas. They are known to be either good or mischievous, depending on how homeowners treat them. They usually come out at 12 noon for an hour and during the night. Filipinos always mutter words ("tabi-tabi po" or "bari-bari apo ma ka ilabas kami apo") asking them to excuse themselves for bothering the Duwendes. Filipinos would leave food on the floor, so that the duwende residing (or guarding) the house would not be angry with them.They also take your things,and laugh at you when you try to find it.They give it back when they feel like it,or when you tell them to please give it back.

Malakas and Maganda Malakas and Maganda(literally, Strong One and Beautiful One) are Filipino version of Adam and Eve. They are said to have sprung from a large bamboo tree pecked by a Sarimanok known as Magaul.

Mambabarang Mambabarang (summoner) is a witch who uses insects and spirits to enter the body of any person they hate. A Mambabarang is a kind of a mangkukulam. Mambabarangs are ordinary human beings with black magic who torture and later kill their victims by infesting their bodies with insects. They are different from Mangkukulams - the latter only inflict pain or illness. Mambabarangs use a strand of hair from their chosen victim and tie it to the bugs or worms which they will use as a medium. When they prick the bug, the victim immediately experiences the intended effect.


Mangkukulam or bruha (from Spanish: bruja, "witch") are witches, wizards, bruho (Spanish:brujo, "wizard, male witch"), or sorcerers who cast evil spells to humans. This bewitcher is also called manggagaway. The Mangkukulam uses dark magic.

The difference between a mambabarang and a mangkukulam is that the mambabarang uses magical insects to bring harm to his victims. These insects are released after incantations, when they will search for their supposed victim and burrow under the skin, impregnating her. After some time, matruculans return to the house to kill the pregnant mother, open her abdomen, and eat the growing fetus.


The Muntianak of the Bagobos, whose name means “small child” is the spirit of a child who died while still in the womb during childbirth. After coming back to life as a hideous little creature, it makes the forest its home and harasses or kills those who pass by. The Tagakalao tribe of Davao believe in the Mantianak, a bearded incarnation of an infant who, together with its mother, died during childbirth in the forest. Pregnant women who heard its wails suffered miscarriage. Later origin stories of this creature include raped and murdered women reincarnated as wraiths to take revenge on all men, mutilating and devouring their penis. The later association of the Mantianak to dead women is shared by its Malaysian counterpart, also called Mantianak which is an avenging ghost of a woman who died while giving birth. 


The ancient natives in the south revered the Patianak as a lesser nature spirit associated with the soil and rice fields similar to the Nuno sa Punso of the Tagalogs. With its name meaning “lord child”, offerings during planting and harvesting seasons were made in rice fields in honor of the Patianak to ensure the health of the crops and a bountiful harvest. Those who passed by an area believed to be inhabited by the creature whispered excuses for safe passage or risk being assaulted by its diminutive inhabitant. 

The image of the PAtianak gradually changed in Luzon. From a semi-benevolent being, the northern version - also known as Patianak in some parts of Bicol and Pampanga - was portrayed in most tales as a fiendish blood-sucker and man-eater in the forest. With the arrival of Catholicism, the creature became a demon, later coined Impacto or Impakto, and tormentor of those who refused the Catholic faith. (similar to Tiyanak)