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Legends From The Pilipino Islands

  Author:  50864  Category:(Ancient Beliefs) Created:(8/17/2002 10:30:00 AM)
This post has been Viewed (17331 times)

The Aswang

The aswang1 is the most dreaded of supernatural beings and is a person who assumes other forms, like that of a dog, pig, horse, or carabao, when he or she roams about at night in search of prey, particularly sick persons or expectant mothers. The form an aswang takes is usually extraordinarily large and of completely black color. In addition, the aswang can fly at night but only their head and intestines do so leaving the rest of their body behind on their bed. People are often warned against sleeping with their bellies exposed because an aswang might steal their intestines as they sleep. When the intended victim is not asleep, the aswang would stand upside-down and then emit a strong odor which will make the victim incapable of moving. The aswang will then eat the victim's internal organs starting from the heart down to the intestines.

The aswang is said to prefer eating unborn babies and can smell an unborn baby. Their modus operandi is to extend their tounge and extract the baby from the mother's womb. People who see, at night, what looks like a strand of cobweb hanging down (from a tree, for example) are warned not to reach for it as it may be the tounge of an aswang waiting to catch an unsuspecting person.

During the day, the aswang lives like a normal person and may even have a job and it is believed that the aswang never victimizes his or her neighbors. It is claimed that if you see your neighbor standing upside-down, then he or she is an aswang. An aswang can also be spotted by looking into their eye. Your reflection in an aswang's eye would be upside-down. But when one happens to look at an aswang in the eye, one should never look away but, rather, should try to stare down the aswang. It usually doesn't take long for the aswang to surrender and look away. But if you look away first, you're lost. Another method of detecting an aswang is to use a special oil that's prepared in an arcane and complicated ritual that can be performed only on Good Fridays. The oil will boil if it is brought near an aswang.

The word "aswang" is often translated as "sorcerer" but this is misleading. First of all, sorcerers do what they do of their own free will while being an aswang is considered to be a state of sickness wherein the person who has become an aswang is unable to control himself. A person becomes an aswang if another aswang blows air down his or her neck. An aswang can be "cured" with the help of a native healer (called a "mananambal" among Visayans) who will force the aswang to drink certain potions. The infected one will then vomit all sorts of weird things from an entire egg to a bird.

Many present-day Filipinos believe in the existence of the aswang and, in fact, there are those who claim that they live next door to an aswang.


The manananggal is a headless being who roams about all night frightening people whom he meets, but who at daybreak resumes his human form. And like the aswang, the manananggal removes the entrails of his victims. ("Manananggal" is derived from the Tagalog word "tanggal" which means "to remove".)

The Sigben

The sigben or sigbin is said to be the pet of witches and warlocks like the wak-wak. Their front limbs of this quadruped are shorter than their hind limbs thus giving them the impression of standing upside-down (and to most Filipinos, standing upside-down is one of the hallmarks of a supernatural creature). They are said to be fond of the flowers of the red squash and of piglets.

However, there are people who believe that the sigben is not a supernatural creature but rather a rarely-seen nocturnal animal that avoids areas populated by humans. There has been speculation that stories of the sigben were inspired by a now-extinct species of kangaroos that used to live in parts of the Philippine islands. Their physical description (i.e., front limbs that are shorter than their hind limbs) does match that of kangaroos. A cyber-friend who said that he saw a sigben reported that the sigben is a little bit smaller that a two-year-old goat with grey skin.

The Tikbalang

The tikbalang is a harmless being, but when he took a fancy to someone, he would lure him to his haunts and tease him with frightening looks and antics.

The tikbalang is sort of like a "reverse-centaur" -- its lower body is human while its upper body is that of a horse.

The Origin of the World

Seacost dwellers believed that heaven and earth had neither beginning nor end and that they existed for eternity. Between them lived a sea-wind and a land-wind who married. From this union came the reed or bamboo.

The mountain dwellers, who also believed in the eternal existence of heaven and earth, added that a bird pecked at the bamboo and broke it in two. From the bamboo then emerged Silalak, the first man, and Sibabay, the first woman. The two married and from them descended the Filipino people.

The Origin of Rice

There was a time, many, many years ago, when rice was not known to our people. At that time our ancestors lived on fruits, vegetables, birds, and wild animals which they caught while hunting in the mountains or the forests. Tilling the soil was still unknown. And poultry and hog raising was not yet a part of their way of living.

Because our people depended on the food which nature provided and not on what they themselves grew or raised, their stay in one place was only temporary. When there was nothing more to be hunted or gathered in a certain place, they would go to another region where there was plenty of food. Thus, they traveled from one place to another.

But our ancestors were proud, thankful and happy. They were proud of the things they had -- their brown skin, the race to which they belonged, and the customs and traditions which they practiced. They were thankful to Bathala1, their god. And they were happy in the manner of living which they led.

On a typical day, the men could be seen going to the mountains or the forests to hunt, while the women and small children could be seen busily engaged in such useful tasks as fishing and gathering of fruits and vegetables. After a day's work, all wild animals that had been killed in the hunt and all fruits and vegetables that had been gathered, would be divided equally among all the groups of families which made up the balangay .

One day, a group of hunters went out to hunt deer. In their desire to have a good catch, they traveled far and wide until they reached the Cordillera Mountains. Having traveled so far, and feeling dead tired, they decided to take a rest under a big tree. It was nearing noon and all of them were hungry.

While resting in the shade of the tree, they saw, not far from where they were, a group of men and women whose features were quite different from those of ordinary mortals. The hunters realized that they were gods and goddesses who lived in that part of the mountain. All at once the hunters stood up and gave the deities due respect. The gods were glad of this gesture. In return, they invited the hunters to join them in their banquet.

The hunters helped in the preparation of the food. They butchered the deer and wild boar and then placed them one after another over the live coals.

In a short while, a servant of the gods got some bamboos and placed them over the fire. The bamboos contained small, white kernels shaped like beads. Soon after, the cooked kernels were placed in saucer-shaped banana leaves. The table was laden with roasted meat, cooked vegetables, and fresh fruits. Other bamboos were brought in and these contained what looked like pure water. The hunters soon learned that the crystal-like substance was not water but, rather, the wine of the gods.

At first, the hunters were reluctant in joining the feast after seeing the small, white kernels.

"We do not eat worms," the chief hunter said.

The gods smiled. "These white bead-shaped kernels are not worms," replied one of the gods. "They are cooked rice. They come from a certain kind of plant which we ourselves grow. Come and feast with us. After we have eaten, kill us if you find anything wrong from eating rice."

After hearing the god's words, the hunters did not argue anymore. They feasted with the gods. They were satisfied and happy, not because they were fed but because of the energy they felt after eating cooked rice. Their weak bodies became strong.

After the feast, the hunters thanked the gods.

Before leaving, every hunter received a sack of palay from the gods.

"This is palay," explained another of the gods. "Pound the palay, winnow and clean it very well. Wash the rice with water and place the washed rice between the internodes of the bamboo with enough water to be absorbed by the rice. Then place the bamboo over the fire until it is cooked. The sick will become strong and all of you will be satisfied after eating. Preserve some of the palay for your seedbed. Start planting during the rainy season. During the dry season, you can harvest the palay. Go now. Introduce the palay in your village and teach the people how to till the soil. You will progress and this will stop you from wandering from place to place."

After thanking the gods, the hunters left for their village. They followed the advice of the gods. They introduced the eating of cooked rice in their village. They taught their own people how to till the soil and plant it with palay. After many years, the practice of eating rice and the art of planting rice became widespread. Other balangays soon adopted the practice of planting rice.

Since then rice became known to our people. And along with the tilling of the soil, our people also learned to raise animals and to construct permanent dwelling places.

The Origin of The Banana Plant

In a village by the sea, there once lived a couple who had a daughter named Juana. Because of her beauty, many suitors vied for Juana. One of Juana's suitors was a fellow named Aging. At first Juana and Aging were just friends. But friendship soon turned to love. Juana's father disapproved of Aging and forbade Juana to see him. In spite of this, the two lovers found ways to see each other.

Early one evening, Juana's father arrived from the field where he had been working all day. To his surprise he saw, through an open window, that Aging was in the house sitting by the window and talking with Juana. Juana's father was angered that Juana would entertain Aging in defiance of his wishes. Quickly, he reached through the window and, with his sharp bolo1, he struck Aging on the arm. The bolo was so sharp that Aging's arm was severed. Mortally wounded, Aging rushed out of the house. Juana rushed after Aging but it was too dark outside. Unable to find Aging, Juana returned to the house, took Aging's arm and buried it in the yard.

The next morning, Juana's father went to the yard. At the spot where Juana buried Aging's arm, there was a small green plant pushing itself up. The plant had wide green leaves and yellow fruit shaped like clusters of fingers. Surprised, he called out to Juana telling her to join him in the yard.

"What plant is this?" asked the father. "I've never seen one like it before!"

Upon seeing the plant, Juana remembered the arm she had buried on the spot the night before and she exlaimed, "That plant is Aging! It is the arm of Aging!"

From that time on, the plant with the clustered fruit that looked like fingers came to be referred as "aging", which was later changed to "saging" , which is the Tagalog word for "banana".

The Origin of The Coconut

It was the last day of the fast of Lapulapu -- a fast ordered by Bathala1 through the messenger Liyongin. Gaunt, weary and weak, Lapulapu trekked the trail to Suong where his fast was to end. There, amidst the burning rocks, he wrestled with Impacto from sunup till sundown until Impacto lay dying on the hot rocks.

"Lapulapu," Impacto whispered, "bury my dead body in the land of Abuno and when you see a tree spring from my grave, take care of it for such is the tree promised to you by Bathala for the nourishment and improvement of your people. Its juice will be sweet. Its meat will be wholesome. And every part will have its own utility.

Lapulapu did as he was told. And shortly after, a straight and palm-like tree emerged and bore fruit. Of course, Lapulapu was the first to taste of its fruit and beheld that it was good. So, when he went on a visit to Dalisay , near the mouth of the Opon river, he brought along a mixture of ripe and unripe fruit. On the slippery Antubong , he slipped and lost consciousness. The ripe fruit were carried by the tide out to the sea. The unripe ones, being heavier, were not carried by the tide and drifted nearby. Lapulapu, when he regained consciousness, was able to retrieve the young fruit but of the ripe ones he could not find a trace.

The bunch of ripe fruit found their way to the shores of Talisay . There, a curious man removed the husk from one fruit and exposed the shell of the coconut. When he beheld the similarity of the coconut shell with a human skull, he was seized with fear of being put to death for death was the punishment of those who commit murder. He buried the fruit in the soil near his home and, after time passed, forgot about it. And it was thus that the spread of the coconut to other islands started.

This post is dedicated to my dear Sis Love Always Diana, Thank You a thousand times over

Sources 1.The Enclyopedia Of Myth and Legend 2.Folklore Of The Pilipino People In Story

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Halloween is Right around the corner.. .

Date: 8/17/2002 10:56:00 AM  From Authorid: 55300    huh, never heard these things before.--Dragon_tears  
Date: 8/17/2002 1:00:00 PM  From Authorid: 49150    I've been told by several different people, I was a phillipino in a past life. Which makes this post even more interesting to me. Thank you very much.  
Date: 8/17/2002 1:22:00 PM  From Authorid: 54800    The first two stories were interesting... Weird but interesting... o.O great post!
Date: 8/17/2002 9:18:00 PM  From Authorid: 24701    I'm Filipino.I know alot about Filipno folk tales.Filipino pride!
Date: 8/17/2002 9:48:00 PM  From Authorid: 51393    THank you so much sis this is beautiful and true.Every word that has been said in these post is true.I love you and thank you so much (((((hugs)))))  

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