Learn more about Philippine mythology
Philippine mythology, and folklore are being studied as part of the curriculum of Philippine Psychology, and includes a collection of tales and superstitions about magical creatures and entities. Some Filipinos, even though heavily Westernized and Christianized, still believe in such entities. The prevalence of belief in the figures of Philippine mythology is strong in the provinces. Many common folk attribute psychological problems to these superstitions and considered significant for psychologists in understanding the Filipino psyche.
Because the country has many islands and is inhabited by different ethnic groups, Philippine Mythology and superstitions are very diverse. However, certain similarities exist among these groups, such as the belief in Heaven (kaluwalhatian, kalangitan), Hell (impiyerno, kasanaan), and the human soul (kaluluwa).
 The Philippine Pantheon
Philippine mythology, while not as widely known as its European and East Asian counterparts, contains similar elements to other mythologies, including deities, creation stories, mythical creatures, and beliefs.
Philippine mythology varies among the many indigenous tribes of the Philippines. Some tribes believe in a single Supreme Being who created the world and everything in it, while others choose to worship a multitude of tree and forest deities (diwatas). Below are some of the gods and goddesses of the various Philippine tribes:
Bathala ( Maykapal, Bathalang Maykapal, Abba) - Chief god of the Tagalogs. He created the celestial fire (the Sun), and humanity. Bathala, known as Abba in the Cebuano language, was possibly worshipped by the Visayans. An invocation to Bathala sung by priestesses called babaylans contains the following: "Bathala, the source of all creations, in Your hands lie Maniliw the witch, and from your chest comes out the creator Lulid Amo that can make darkness darker than the night".
Gugurang - Chief god of the Bicolanos and keeper of a sacred fire on top of a mountain.
Aswang- The god of evil; brother and enemy to Gugurang.
Haliya- The Bicolano goddess of the moon. She is known for having a cult of women during pre-Hispanic times.
Kaptan - For most of the ancient Visayans, he is the supreme deity who dwells in the sky.
Anitun Tabu - The Tagalog fickle-minded goddess of the wind and rain.
Tadaklan - The god of thunder, as worshipped by the Tinguian people of central Luzon.
Kimat - The lightning dog, owned by Tadaklan. It is said that when Kimat attacks, he comes down from heaven and bites whatever it is aimed at.
Aman Sinaya - Primordial Tagalog goddess of the sea and patron/protector of fishermen.
Amihan- Personification of the northeasterly winds.
Amanikable - The god of the sea among the Manobo tribe.
Maguayan - The sea deity of the ancient Visayans. He/She is also believed to be the ferryman of the dead in Sulad (Hell).
Sidapa - The god of death. He is said to reside on top of Mt.Madia-as, in the province of Antique.
Siginaugan - The god of the underworld.
Dian Masalanta - The goddess of love, pregnancy, childbirth, and peace among the ancient Tagalogs. She is the daughter of Dumakulem and Anagolay. Apolake, the god of war, is her brother. Ever since the arrival of the Spanish, she has been known by the name, Maria Makiling, after her mountain.
Dal'lang - The goddess of beauty. She bestows the gift of beauty to her followers.
Mayari (Bulan) - In ancient Tagalog mythology, Mayari is a one-eyed but extremely beautiful goddess and protector of the moon. She is the daughter of Bathala and sister of Tala and Apolake. Apolake and Mayari once got into argument about who would be the better ruler of the world. Apolake referred to his male strengths and Mayari insisted on equal rights. The dispute intensified and the two started to hit each other with wooden bars. Mayari received a blow on her face and was blinded on one eye. Apolake was very sorry for his deed and he offered her friendship and mutual change in the power over the world and Mayari agreed.
Tala - Tagalog goddess of the stars. Daughter of Bathala, sister of Mayari and Adlaw.
Apolake (Adlaw) - The Tagalog god of the sun and lord of war. He is the son of Bathala and brother of Mayari, but in other myth his sister is Dian Masalanta and his parents were Anagolay and Dumakulem. He is identified to the Pangasinense god Ama/Apo-Kaoley
Malyari - The god of strength and bravery. He is the Filipino counterpart of Hercules. Also known as Bernardo Carpio (or Karpyo), he was the son of Bathala from a mortal woman. He was trapped between two clashing mountains by the gods, as punishment for his pride and selfish attitude.
Lakapati (Ikapati, Lakanpati) - The hermaphrodite deity of fertility and cultivated fields among the ancient Tagalogs. He/She is also the protector of crops and farm animals. As Ikapati she is a great mother goddess for the Tagalogs, her name means "giver of food" and her worshippers pray for her to protect them from starvation. She protects the growing food and animals for her people who acknowledge her and provides abundance during the harvest. In other myths, she is a consort of Bathala/Abba (both of them were sometimes viewed as hermaphrodite), and was first responsible for the creation of the universe. It was thought that she started creating the universe, but it was Bathala who finished it.
Idianalé (Idianalo, Ideale) - The goddess of agriculture and husbandry for the ancient Tagalogs. She is the protector of farmers. Other legends say that she is also a goddess of death.
Lalahon - The Visayan goddess of fire, volcanoes, and harvest. In ancient times, natives blamed her for sending armies of locusts to destroy their harvest. They offer her gifts, in order to please her and prevent her from doing this.
Halmista - The Visayan god of magic. It has been said that he was a former priest (or baylan) who turned into a god. He is the father of Deltise and Kilawnea.
Mandarangan - The goddess of war in Bagobo mythology.
Hanan - The Tagalog goddess of morning and sister of Mayari.
Sitan- The Tagalog god of the afterlife and guardian of Kasanaan (realm of the evil spirits called manggalo) with the help of his follower gods Hukluban(death), Manggagaway(sickness), Mangkukulam(fire), and Manisalat(destroyer of love).
Hukluban- The Tagalog strong metamorphic goddess of death and one of Sitan's helpers. Her name is a Tagalog word for crone or hag.
Manisalat- The Tagalog god of broken families and destroyer of love. His followers were also called manisalats, a kind of witch that can sow animosity between spouses and lovers, and can prevent them from having sexual intercourse.
Mangkukulam- A Tagalog god of fire and one of Sitan's helpers. His name is a Tagalog word for "witch".
Manggagaway- The Tagalog goddess of disease and one of Sitan's helpers. She is said to disguise herself as a healer, roaming the countryside not to heal, but to induce maladies with her charms. Her followers, medicine women called manggagaways, are believed to possess the ability to cure or induce sickness using their knowledge of herbs and poisons.
Lambana - A fairy-like creature that lives in woods. They act as nature's guardian spirits. They also give grace to people who take care of nature, and bring bad luck to people who threatens nature
 Creation Stories
There are many different creation stories in Philippine mythology, originating from various ethnic groups.
This is an ancient Visayan account of creation.
Thousands of years ago, there was no land, sun, moon, or stars, and the world was only a great sea of water, above which stretched the sky. The water was the kingdom of the god Maguayan, and the sky was ruled by the great god, Kaptan.
Maguayan had a daughter called Lidagat, the sea, and Kaptan had a son known as Lihangin, the wind. The gods agreed to the marriage of their children, so the sea became the bride of the wind.
Three sons and a daughter were born to them. The sons were called Likalibutan, Liadlao, and Libulan, and the daughter received the name of Lisuga.
Likalibutan had a body of rock and was strong and brave; Liadlao was formed of gold and was always happy; Libulan was made of copper and was weak and timid; and the beautiful Lisuga had a body of pure silver and was sweet and gentle. Their parents were very fond of them, and nothing was wanting to make them happy.
After a time Lihangin died and left the control of the winds to his eldest son Likalibutan. The faithful wife Lidagat soon followed her husband, and the children, now grown up, were left without father or mother. However, their grandfathers, Kaptan and Maguayan, took care of them and guarded them from all evil.
After some time, Likalibutan, proud of his power over the winds, resolved to gain more power, and asked his brothers to join him in an attack on Kaptan in the sky above. They refused at first, but when Likalibutan became angry with them, the amiable Liadlao, not wishing to offend his brother, agreed to help. Then together they induced the timid Libulan to join in the plan.
When all was ready, the three brothers rushed at the sky, but they could not beat down the gates of steel that guarded the entrance. Likalibutan let loose the strongest winds and blew the bars in every direction. The brothers rushed into the opening, but were met by the angry god Kaptan. So terrible did he look that they turned and ran in terror, but Kaptan, furious at the destruction of his gates, sent three bolts of lightning after them.
The first struck the copper Libulan and melted him into a ball. The second struck the golden Liadlao and he too was melted. The third bolt struck Likalibutan and his rocky body broke into many pieces and fell into the sea. So huge was he that parts of his body stuck out above the water and became what is known as land.
In the meantime the gentle Lisuga had missed her brothers and started to look for them. She went toward the sky, but as she approached the broken gates, Kaptan, blind with anger, struck her too with lightning, and her silver body broke into thousands of pieces.
Kaptan then came down from the sky and tore the sea apart, calling on Maguayan to come to him and accusing him of ordering the attack on the sky. Soon Maguayan appeared and answered that he knew nothing of the plot as he had been asleep deep in the sea. After some time, he succeeded in calming the angry Kaptan. Together they wept at the loss of their grandchildren, especially the gentle and beautiful Lisuga, but even with their powers, they could not restore the dead back to life. However, they gave to each body a beautiful light that will shine forever.
And so it was the golden Liadlao who became the sun and the copper Libulan, the moon, while Lisuga's pieces of silver were turned into the stars of heaven. To wicked Likalibutan, the gods gave no light, but resolved to make his body support a new race of people. So Kaptan gave Maguayan a seed and he planted it on one of the islands.
Soon a bamboo tree grew up, and from the hollow of one of its branches, a man and a woman came out. The man's name was Sikalak and the woman was called Sikabay. They were the parents of the human race. Their first child was a son whom they called Libo; afterwards they had a daughter who was known as Saman.
Pandaguan, the youngest son, was very clever and invented a trap to catch fish. The very first thing he caught was a huge shark. When he brought it to land, it looked so great and fierce that he thought it was surely a god, and he at once ordered his people to worship it. Soon all gathered around and began to sing and pray to the shark. Suddenly the sky and sea opened, and the gods came out and ordered Pandaguan to throw the shark back into the sea and to worship none, but them.
All were afraid except Pandaguan. He grew very bold and answered that the shark was as big as the gods, and that since he had been able to overpower it he would also be able to conquer the gods. Then Kaptan, hearing this, struck Pandaguan with a small lightning bolt, for he did not wish to kill him but merely to teach him a lesson. Then he and Maguayan decided to punish these people by scattering them over the earth, so they carried some to one land and some to another. Many children were afterwards born, and thus the earth became inhabited in all parts.
Pandaguan did not die. After lying on the ground for thirty days he regained his strength, but his body was blackened from the lightning, and his descendants became the dark-skinned tribe, the Negritos.
As punishment, his eldest son, Aryon, was taken north where the cold took away his senses. While Libo and Saman were carried south, where the hot sun scorched their bodies. A son of Saman and a daughter of Sikalak were carried east, where the land at first was so lacking in food that they were compelled to eat clay.
Another popular legend tells the story of how Bathala created the people of the islands.
In the beginning when the Earth was still young, the gods, Bathala; Aman Sinaya; and Amihan, were the only beings that existed. Bathala was god of the Sky (Langit) and Aman Sinaya was goddess of the Sea (Dagat). The two have been fierce rivals for a long time, and everyday, they would try to outdo each other. Bathala used his lighting bolts and thunder, and Aman Sinaya used her waves and typhoons.
One day, Aman Sinaya decided to send her tempests into the Sky to cause a wild commotion. In order to stop her, Bathala threw giant boulders that came from atop of the mountains. It created thousands of islands onto the surface of the Sea, which became the Philippine archipelago. Amihan, the Northeast Wind in the middle of the two realms, decided to stop the battle once and for all by taking the form of a bird. She then flew back and forth between them. This made the Sky and the Sea closer than it was before. At the point where the two realms met, both deities agreed to end the fight and become friends.
As a sign of friendship, Bathala planted a seed underneath the ocean floor. It soon grew into a bamboo reed, sticking out of the edge of the Sea. Amihan had gazed upon it one day and heard voices, coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh, North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!", the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Inside were two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). She then flew them onto one of the islands where they settled, built a house, and had millions of offspring that populated the Earth.
Then, it finally came when the children were too numerous for Malakas and Maganda to control. One day, they were ordered to work in the fields, but instead, they did nothing. When the parents arrived home, they noticed that their instructions weren't followed. Asking for some guidance, they prayed to the great god, Bathala, and he came to them and said, "Let your anger be shown to everyone and it shall make them into what they are meant to be." So out of their anger, they grabbed spoon ladles and began to give blows to everyone.
All the children started running away. Some hid under the bamboo tables and became slaves. A few of them went inside the burning cauldron and turned into the Aetas of the islands. Others climbed up the rooftop and became the datus of the villages. While some climbed on top of the trees and were believed to have become the commoners. Those who fled to the mountains turned into hunters and the ones who ran to the seashore turned into fishermen.
 Mythological Stories
The Legend of Maria Makiling
Once upon a time, a diwata lived in a mountain of Laguna, called Maria Makiling. She has light olive skin, long shining black hair and twinkling eyes. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Maria was always about helping other people. One time, the children of a farmer got sick. When he went to Maria to seek help, he was given a bilao (a flat, woven container) full of ginger. The farmer sadly went home carrying the bilao of ginger. When he reached his hut, he was greatly surprised: the ginger had turned to gold! Because of Maria's kindness, the townsfolk had grown to love her.
Maria was a great beauty. She was sought for and wooed by many suitors. Three of them were very much determined to have her. One is Captain Lara, a Spanish soldier who always brought her gifts from Europe. The other is Joselito, a Spanish mestizo who was studying in Manila . Every time Joselito visits Maria, he had many stories to tell her about foreign countries and the things that he had read in books. He dreamed of going to Spain. He didn't like to live in the Philippines. Of the three, it was Juan who is the most industrious. He is a common farmer. But despite of his lowly status, he is so hard working, and his fruits and vegetables grew fat and juicy. He also had many pet animals and birds. But if truth be told, it was Juan who Maria secretly admired. As time passed, her suitors became more and more impatient and demanded that Maria tell them who she loves. So the diwata was forced to promise: "By the night of the full moon, I will tell you my answer."
When the night of the full moon arrived, all of her suitors climbed up the mountain to know her decision. All was startled when Maria told them that it was Juan whom she loved. The suitors went away feeling dejected. On the other hand, Joselito and Captain Lara were very much angry with Juan. They thought of a plan against him.
One day, all was surprised when a huge fire devoured the cuartel of the Spanish. Because of the fire, Captain Lara ordered many Filipinos to be captured. Secretly, Joselito helped him. Juan was among those who they imprisoned and tortured.
Many prisoners did not last long from the tortures the Spanish had inflicted upon them. One night, Captain Lara and Joselito secretly spoke with the prisoners. The next day, Juan was blamed for the burning of the Spanish cuartel. "I did not do it!" cried Juan. But the prisoners pointed at him because Captain Lara and Joselito frightened them.
The soldiers brought Juan to the plaza. In front of hundreds of people, Juan was shot as the enemy of the Spaniards. He was killed even though he didn't commit any wrongdoing. But before he died, he managed to shout out loud Maria's name. It was heard by the diwata so she quickly went down from her mountain.
But Juan was already dead when Maria arrived. Tears falling down her face, she embraced tightly his lifeless body. Afterwards, she faced the crowd. "Why did you not take care of him?" she shouted. Meanwhile, Captain Lara and Joselito fled to Manila because they were afraid of Maria. When she learned of this, she cursed the two. She also cursed those men who cannot accept failure in love. Soon, the curse took effect. Joselito suddenly became ill. There was no cure for his illness.
Captain Lara, on the other hand, was called back to Laguna when the Filipinos revolted against the abuse that the Spaniards had inflicted upon them. The revolution quickly spread to many parts of the Philippines. The revolutionary Filipinos killed Captain Lara.
From then on, Maria never let herself be seen by the people again. Every time somebody gets lost on the mountain, they remember the curse of the diwata. Yet they also remember the great love of Maria Makiling.
 Mythological Creatures
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. The myth of the Aswang is popular in the Visayas, especially in provinces such as Capiz, Antique, and Iloilo.
In the Tagalog language, the word dila means tongue. The Dila is a tongue of a spirit that pass through the bamboo flooring of provincial houses. It then licks certain humans to death.
 Diwatas and Engkantos
Diwatas, or fairies, 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 such famous Diwata is Maria Makiling, guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna province.
Engkantos (sometimes spelled as Encantos), or goblins, reside primarily in the sea. It is a customary way for superstitious Filipino fishermen to offer meat and other delicacies to the Engkanto by throwing it onto the sea, after a day of bountiful harvest.
In other parts of the country, Diwatas are analogous to nymphs.
Duwende is the Spanish term for goblin. Duwendes frequently live in houses or in trees in rural areas. They are known to be either good or mischievous, depending on how homeowners treat them. Filipinos usually leave food on the floor, so that the duwende residing (or guarding) the house would not be angry with them.
Kapres, tall and dark giants, are known to inhabit forests under old acacia or mango trees. Kapres are said to smoke huge rolls of tobacco, which is why some superstitious Filipinos living in rural areas are very wary about the smell of burning tobacco at night. It is said that when a brief shower of rain falls while the sun is shining, a pair of Kapres are being wed.
A Manananggal is a sorceress who has the power to divide her body into two. She usually appears as a pretty newcomer to small villages and barrios. To feed, the self-segmenter chooses an isolated place where she will leave her lower torso while she hunts at night. When she separates from her lower torso, she loses her beauty and her true monstrous form emerges -- huge leather batwings sprout from her back and provide her with aerial mobility. She then goes off in search of houses where pregnant women reside. Upon choosing a suitable victim, the Manananggal alights on the house and inserts her tongue through the roof. The tongue is long, hollow and extremely flexible. She uses it to puncture the stomach of the sleeping woman and proceeds to suck out the fetus.
A story is told of a pregnant woman who awakes from sleep and sees a white thread hanging from the ceiling. She cuts it with a pair of scissors, thinking it to be a stray thread from the mosquito cover that surrounds her bed. The following day, she discovers that her newly arrived neighbor has fled the night before, with witnesses saying that her mouth was pooling with blood from a cut tongue. The pregnant woman rushes back to the bedroom and searches for the "thread" she had cut the night before. Under the bed she finds, not a piece of thread, but rather a bleeding human tongue.
Sunlight is deadly to the Manananggal when she is in her monstrous form. Should her two halves still be separate with the coming of dawn, she will be destroyed. It is said that to destroy the Manananggal, one should search for the lower torso that she leaves behind during her nightly hunts. Salt, ash, and/or garlic should then be placed on the lower torso's opening, preventing the monster from combining again and leaving it vulnerable to sunlight. Small containers of salt, ash and raw rice, and the smell of burning rubber are said to deter the Manananggal from approaching one's house.
The Mangkukulam uses dark magic spells to harm his/her victims. They are known to curse their enemies with evil and wicked spells. Common mangkukulam tools include black candles, voodoo dolls, human hair, and needles.
A "Mangbabarang" is a kind of a mangkukulam. The difference is that the mangbabarang 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 themselves into the victim's skin. The victim then suffers from pus-filled boils from where the insects exit their temporary host.
The Matruculan is believed to enter a virgin's house and then impregnates her. After some time, Matruculans return to the house to kill the pregnant mother, open her abdomen, and eat the growing fetus.
Multo, the Tagalog word for ghost, comes from the Spanish word muerto, which means "dead". Superstitious Filipinos believe that some kind of multo, often a spirit of their former kin, regularly visits them. It is also believed that in death, a dead person is first visited by and then fetched by another dead spirit. This is called, in Tagalog, "pagsundo" (to fetch). The Tagalog word for being visited by a multo is 'minumulto'(being haunted), or 'dinadalaw' (being visited).
 Nuno sa punso
The Nuno sa Punso inhabits mounds, such as anthills, in the ground. Superstitious Filipinos, when passing by a mound, will ask the resident nuno's permission to let them pass. Strange and sudden illnesses that befall a person are sometimes attributed to nunos.
 Putol na kamay
Putol na Kamay ("severed hands") are said to be usually seen in mailboxes or cupboards in provincial houses. They are believed to be a hand of a ghost or the devil.
Santelmo, or Santo Elmo, is a fireball seen by dozens of Filipinos, especially those living in the Sierra Madre Moutains. It was scientifically explained as electric fields which have diverged from the lines. However, the sightings were reported since the Spanish era (1500s-1800s). (See also Shinen and Will-o-Wisps) There were also sightings in the Alps and Himalayas.
 Sirena and siyokoy
The Sirena is a mermaid. Sirenas are reportedly often seen ashore by fishermen, especially in the towns bordering the Pacific Ocean. The Siyokoy is the male counterpart of the Sirena. Siyokoys have gill slits, are colored brown or green, and have scaly skin, comparable to that of fishes.
The Tikbalang is a half-horse, half-man creature. Its head and lower body are that of a horse, and its torso and arms are that of a human. Male tikbalangs are said to lure beautiful women into the forest, after which, they are never heard from again.
Legends say that when a person tames a Tikbalang and is able to retrieve a sample of hair from its mane, the Tikbalang will be that person's slave for life.
The Tiyanak (related to Changelings) is the offspring of a woman and a demon. The Tiyanak can also be the aborted fetus, and who comes to life to take revenge on its mother. They are typically portrayed to have reddish or dark skin and glowing eyes.
Sources:Barangay-Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society by William Henry Scott http://sambali.blogspot.com/2004/12/apung-iru.html http://www.angelfire.com/realm2/mdf/ http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10771/10771-8.txt