Were they Real or Just an Urban Legend? (Philippine Mythology)

In observance of the upcoming  Halloween on the  31st of October the night before the All Saint’s Day, most Filipino celebrate this Holiday by wearing different costumes, parents take their children to a trick or treat event. While others stay in their homes watching horror movies, gathered with friends and families-talking about unusual stories told by their ancestors.   In the Philippines we are also celebrating  All Soul’s Day  every 2nd day of November, this is the time where most Filipino visit their departed loved ones in cemetery offering prayers,and foods and lighting candles.

Today, I come up with an idea about writing some mythical stories that I presumed  60% of the people nationwide believe that they are actually real and not just an urban legend. I talked to some friends I knew that had a personal experience about strange things that nobody could explain what they really were. I also have strange  stories that was told to me by my parents  when I was a little kid. I grew up in a small town in an island of Panay and most people there believed in so many weird things. I wanted to share those stories to all of you. So just relax and get ready as I take you to a world full of mystery, unexplained and strange phenomena.

1. Black Shadow


A shadow person (also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass) is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity.[1]Many methamphetamine addicts report hallucinations of “shadow people”, as a result of sleep deprivation. (reference Wikipedia)

A sleep paralysis sufferer may perceive a “shadowy or indistinct shape” approaching them when they lay awake paralyzed and become increasingly alarmed.

I myself can testify that I had an experienced of a sleep paralysis and I’d seen a dark shadow several times choking me to death. I lived in fears in so many years. I was so scared to sleep without the  light on. I’m not bothered at all as long as I can’t see it when I’m awake. But the story I’m going to share now is the experience of a woman I knew six years ago- who  lived next door in a dormitory where I used to stay.

I used to live in an old dormitory in Makati city. Some boarders said the place was haunted. I had a sleep condition where I always had a bad dream. In my dreams I always see a black shadow getting near my bed and choke me to death. It was really hard to sleep alone in my dorm if my roommate was in graveyard schedule. Even if I visited my family in Bulacan I still had that horrible dreams.  One afternoon I bumped with Janet at the common area. Janet lived the next door at the second floor. She worked at the call center. She used to work in Israel for years. But she decided to come back to Philippines.  We said hi to each other and talked about our jobs. Then later on I   told her about my condition regarding my dream paralysis and seeing the black shadow in my dreams over and over. Then Janet paused for a while took more air before she continued talking.  She said she had a story to tell me. She kept this story for so long because she didn’t like to tell anybody particularly those people who do not believe about strange things.  She said she actually  saw this black shadow for real not just in her sleep but everywhere she goes this black shadow follows her.   Her first encounter with this creature was in the old building when she was still working as a clerk. This black shadow followed her home. She decided to quit her job and move to their province. But on her way home she could feel it was with her inside the bus. It even tapped her arms. She was really scared and went to a quack Doctor to seek help. The quack Doctor told her to be strong and to have more faith -because  if the black shadow sensed her weaknesses it became stronger and  more powerful. According to this quack Doctor, Black Shadow was a kind of demonic evil spirit. When she was at their home she had a bad dream. The black Shadow tried to kill her. Black shadow was really  mad at her that she sought for help. Good thing her brother came to rescue her by waking her up. She was really scared of going back to sleep. There were times when she could tell if that creature was around by its unusual  smell. **–**   

2. Aswang


An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a shapeshifting monster usually possessing a combination of the traits of either a vampire, a ghoul, a warlock/witch, or different species of werebeast in Filipino folklore or even all of them together. Aswang in our town is also considered as  Tiktik or Wakwak.

There were so many stories have been told about the origin of Aswang in Duenias Iloilo  this place is found in Western Visayas region with various versions of the tale. Sources state that the whole story and characters were all fictional and is a product of old native literature by the elderly of Panay to scare off kids. However there are still many people believe that Aswang  is real and it  does really exist. (reference from Wikipedia)

I have a story to share about Aswang- this incident happened to a cousin of my  friend:

“I have a cousin from Camanci- I was still little back then maybe I was 2 or 3 years old. My cousin was 2 years older than me. It was dinner time around 7:30 p.m. They were eating at the dining table my Dad was there too. They never noticed that my cousin left the table. Then after a while they heard him screaming from the outside of the house. That’s the only time they realized he wasn’t at the dining table anymore. So everyone rushed outside to look for my cousin. They were looking outside but they couldn’t find him. After 30 minutes they found him inside the house shocked and unconscious. Whatever happened to my cousin was remained mystery how did he manage to leave the house if all the doors were closed. It was really hard for a 5 year old kid to open a heavy wooden sliding door. It was impossible for him to leave his table without being noticed. Everyone thought Aswang did it. Our house in Camanci was surrounded with rice fields. There was another house near by- the man who lived there named Tino was believed by everyone to be an Aswang. Every time there was a strange thing happened in the neighborhood they always blamed it to that man.”

In my hometown, there were few families that people believed  were Aswang. They said  Aswang could shift into a dog, cat, snake and bird. You need to be careful also not to be greeted by Aswang or else you would get so sick. People called this thing “Usog” the victim who got usog  throw up, with unbearable stomach pain.  They also said that Aswang possessed a mystical stone that provides them with great powers and black magics. When their physical body started to shut down, they need to transfer that stone to their successors to be born again and live a life of immortality.

I was too scared to visit my God Mother when I spent my vacation in the island. Yeah even I don’t really believe in such things, however knowing that people thought she was Aswang – these really gave me some creeps. Then my brother cracked a joke that the reason why my God Mother was waiting for me and wanted to see me was that she wanted to hand me that stone. That even scared me off to visit her.

3. Male Fairies / Tamawo


Tamawo or Tamao are mythogical creatures believed to be handsome having very fair to white skin with fangs and claws of gold. Believed to be clad in gold and wears putong and bahag like the nobles of pre-colonial Visayas. The tamawo were known by its different names: the bumalabag, a male fairy who dresses like an ordinary man. (reference Wikipedia)

In my hometown there were  big rocky mountains near by the ocean that most people in the town believed it was enchanted. This place is known as Ob-Ob hills a place where all kinds of fairies dwell. Long time ago there were stories circulating the whole town that this place had golden kitchen utensils like golden plates, spoons and forks that most of the old folks borrowed for weddings. There were stories also that some Encanto who had personal interests with women from our  town would take these women to their enchanted place. Once these women ate the Tamawo’s food they won’t be able to go back  to their homes.

Let us hear more stories about Tamawo or Encanto.

There was a very nice and beautiful girl from the town named Jan who  went to College-there she met a nice good looking guy, whom they believed was an Encanto who lived in Ob-Ob Hills (Rocky mountain near by the sea). One day Jan went missing. She was taken by this Tamawo to meet his family. They went to a big tree that turned to be the main gate going to their palace. During the dinner time Jan was surrounded with abundant and scrumptious food that she never tasted her whole life. But when she about to eat those food they started to glow and move like worms. She got frightened.  The guy told her that if she really wanted to be with him forever she had to eat their food and forget everything behind.   On the other, hand Jan’s family was mourning for her death. Her sudden death was surrounded with more speculations  because the family knew she was so healthy and never been sick. There were some strange things happened in the morgue earlier. The embalmer said that they heard a loud scream from a woman when they tried to prick a needle to her dead body.  The family also said that every time they looked at the coffin they had an extra vision that Jan was rising from her coffin. There were group of old women on their way to visit Jan’s wake, (these women were the ones doing the Padasal or in English terms Prayers for the dead) when they saw three good looking guys stopped by and asked  for direction how to get  to Jan’s house. One of the old ladies told them the direction. But the moment these old women arrived at the wake, they asked the family if there  were  three young gentlemen happened to stop by in their house to visit Jan. But the family told them that there were no other visitors came earlier. After few years the family decided to dig out Jan’s bones from her tomb- they were shocked to find out  that there were no bones of her left – instead it was replaced of a piece of banana trunk (locally known as Upas ng saging).  There was another girl who was taken to the enchanted place. During the gathering she was asked to eat those scrumptious food. But she refused to eat. While hanging around the whole place she saw a familiar face. It was Jan. But  she was thinking maybe she was wrong. It couldn’t be  her, she was dead already so long ago when she was still young. When she tried to go near  her and asked her name. This woman was completely a different person. **–**

Wow, this story was mysteriously  incredible. Hey  Ladies beware of meeting  good looking men. Not all white men are from America and Europe. Some of them are from other world. So be careful and don’t forget to check the food you eat or else you might end up getting enchanted. Just kidding.

In paranormal terms a doppelganger is a ghostly double of a living person. Viewing ones own or a member of the families doppelganger can portend illness, death or some other tragedy for that person.
While Doppelganger cases are said to be works of fiction, there are a number of real-life cases in which individuals claim to have met their sinister duo.
I have story to share about my friend’s encounter to her cousin’s son doppelganger.
“It was one morning around 9:00 a.m. way back year 2009 I was invited to visit my cousin’s house to help her do some of her school activity works. After we were done eating our breakfast, I already started doing the activity work  at the living room. I didn’t notice I was left alone in their house. My cousin and her daughter was at the garden  planting while her youngest son was playing at my parents house. Then after a while I heard my cousin called her son to come home and take a shower. Then I heard the back door slammed  from the kitchen but I was startled to see my cousin’s son running towards me. He was staring at me but his eyes was glaring with full of fury, then his look was so grim. He smiled at me jerkily. I felt that was really  strange. I couldn’t explain it. But I tried to ignore it. I just told him… ” just go and take a shower before your Mom gets mad”.
The whole time while Joshua was playing at my parents’ house his doppelganger was at his Mom’s room.
That time while his doppelganger came out from his mom’s room. Joshua was just standing in his room facing the wall and his doppelganger  walked by at his back facing at me. I was so certain about what I saw.  I was the only one who saw everything.   I tried to tell them. But nobody believes my story.”

5. Santelmo (Elmo’s Fire)


The Santelmo (St. Elmo’s Fire) is a creature of Philippine mythology. The term santelmo is the shortened form of the Tagalog words “Apoy ni San Elmo “-“St. Elmo’s Fire“. In Aklanon dialect they are known as Santermo. Urban legend believed that Santermo was a ghost of a  dead person . It is sometimes called chase people. In Philippine Folklore, “St. Elmo’s Fire” or locally called “Santilmo” is a spirit of the dead person particularly who got murdered that their spirits are still trapped in the living world.

I remember my big brother had a story about his sighting of  Santermo.

“One night  I  went to visit the  wake of our neighbor named  Manong Nick, after watching people playing cards I decided to go home alone. But on my way home I saw two firing  balls chasing at me. I was  frightened and I went straight  home running. I  really believed that Santermo I saw was the spirit of Nick who died from killing himself.”

There were some scientific explanation about this that ball lightning was a natural phenomenon. It is sometimes associated with thunderstorms. It takes the form of a long-lived, glowing, floating object, as opposed to the short-lived arcing between two points commonly associated with lightning. An early attempt to explain ball lightning was recorded by Nikola Tesla on March 5, 1904. (reference from Wikipedia)

 6. Mambabarang


A Mambabarang is a witch who uses insects and spirits to enter the body of any person they hate. 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.

This is a story from a friend of my sister.

Ana was on her way to Manila to find a new job when she met a guy in the ship. Later on this two got married and  Ana eventually  got pregnant.  But after few months before she gave birth Ana became so sick and had a miscarriage. She lost her baby. Every time she look at the mirror she saw so many head lice coming out her skin pores. It’s getting worse everyday. She died and nobody knows what kind of illness she had. But during her embalmment the  embalmer saw millions of head lice inside her stomach. Then her family found out that her husband had a first wife who lived in Leyte from a family of Mambabarang. They believed this woman was responsible for Ana’s death and her  baby.**–**

This story is creepy and kinda gross! We used to have a neighbor in Bulacan who claimed to have a Power to curse people treating her bad. That’s the reason neighbors were scared to mess up with her. I don’t know if this was true but she was nice to me anyways.

7. Faceless White lady


A White Lady is a type of female ghost dressed in all white reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend of tragedy. While White Lady legends are found in many countries around the world, they are most prominent in parts of Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband, boyfriend or fiancé.

The most prominent one is the White Lady of Balete Drive in Quezon City. It is said that it is the ghost of a long-haired woman in a white dress, who according to legend, died in a car accident while driving along Balete Drive. Most stories about her were told by taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift, such as the one where a taxi crosses Balete Drive, and a very beautiful woman is asking for a ride. The cabbie looks behind and sees the woman’s face was full of blood and bruises, causing him to abandon his taxi in horror. (Reference Wikipedia)

White Ladies are popular ghost story topics in the Philippines.  Sightings of White Ladies are common around the country, and usually every town and barrio has its own “White Lady” story. Today I am going to tell a story from a friend she lives now in Alaska but she had a scary experienced of a faceless white lady when she was a little girl.

Let’s find out a story from my dear  friend who happened to see a faceless white lady:

“My first experience was when I was little. My Mama asked me and my big brother to buy vinegar from the  store. While we were walking heading to the store of Aunt Laling I became so tensed. I couldn’t explain why I became constantly  fidgeting. I had a feeling that someone was following us from behind. It was after rain and soon it was getting dark. Some old people believed that was the perfect time for evil spirit to come out. I kept looking above my shoulder to check who was following us behind. My brother was so annoyed  at me and asked me why I kept looking back. I told him there was someone following us. So I looked back again… and I saw a faceless white lady. She was wearing a long white gown, long hair and I couldn’t recognize her face, it’s like faceless.  My brother looked back as soon as he saw something he grabbed my arm to run. We were really scared. When we reached  the store we were scared to go back home thinking that the white lady was still there waiting. So we asked people we knew from the store  to take us home.”

Well, that was creepy. I don’t know what to do if I saw one. I never wanted to see any. I think if that happens I’m going to have a heart attack.

8. Nuno sa Punso (“old man of the mound”)

Nuno Sa Punso.jpg

A nuno or nuno sa punso (“old man of the mound”) is a dwarf-like creature in Philippine mythology. In Aklanon dialect we called this creature Duende sa Bungsod. It is believed that they live in an anthill or termite mound, hence its name, literally ‘Ancestor/Grandparent living in the anthill. (reference from Wikipedia)

I remembered old people said, be careful with Nuno sa Punso because they will harm you once you stepped on their mound. They gave curses and bad luck to those people who tried to harm their habitat. But once you were nice to them, they could be a great friend to you. They will protect you from any harm and they will give you stones made of gold or lend you their magical hat.

When I was in college I had a thesis mate who also told me she had a  duende friend, she even described me how this creature looked like. The description fits from those we’ve seen on TV and other fairy-tale books. This thing always stayed in her room watching  over her when she slept.***–***

Wow this is really Strange! I can’t imagine myself  to have a friend like them.

 9. Philippine Sigbin/Taeho


Philippine Sigbin/ Sigben or Taeho in Aklanon dialect was mythical creature that came out during full moon to suck  the  blood of victims from their shadows. According to Philippine Mythology –  they were said to be walking backwards with its head lowered between its hind legs, and to have the ability to become invisible to other creatures particularly humans. These myth were popularly known in Panay Island and in Mindanao.

According to my elder sister based on my father’s story,  that long time ago I wasn’t even born yet,  my father saw a Taeho inside our house. We used to have a house made of bamboo tree and nipa- the main door wasn’t really secured and was so easy for animals like dogs and cats to get in.   The said creature went through the back door of the kitchen to search food while everyone in the house was sleeping.  Then after a while my father heard things that went bump in the night. So he got up to check assuming that there might be a cat inside the kitchen. But he was stunned to see a dog- looking creature with glaring eyes trying to attack my brother who was sleeping near the kitchen. My father grabbed his bolo and chased away the beast. Taeho disappeared when it reached the Bubog tree.

Most people believed in the town that Sigbin attacked different kinds of animals like chickens, goats and cows. I had an Aunt that used to have different kinds of animals in their small ranch at the top of the hills. But they were devastated that their animals were being eaten by strange creature that they’d never seen what it was, this creature only ate internal organs and suck  the bloods of their victims. That strange phenomenon was still unsolved up to these days. Some old folks believed that what happened to their ranch was caused by Taeho or Sigbin. There were stories told long time ago that this creature were been attacking their chickens and goats during full moon.Creepy!

10. Kapre or Philippine Big Foot


This mythical creature was normally described as mysterious ape-like giant roaming or hanging around the  forests and mountains. They usually sit on the top of the huge  trees, like mangoes, acacias, bamboos and balete trees holding and smoking a cigar. For more information about their origin please click here.

There were people I knew who had a personal experience or contact with this so called Kapre. They believed and testified that they’d seen these creatures. OMG!

There was a huge Bubog Tree nearby our yard, and one of our neighbors dropped by at this tree to rest. But according to this guy he saw a giant hairy man  smoking in the dark. He thought it was one of his friends so he tried to strike a conversation. But this big man wasn’t responding at all. So he took his flash light to see who he was talking to and in his surprised it was Kapre.   He was really drunk but he still knew what he saw that night. He was terrified so he  ran as fast as he could. This encountered he had with Kapre was immediately spread out through out the whole neighborhood. People thought that Bubog tree was a strange and enchanted tree for those creatures living from other world.

Even my late Father, once told me that he saw a Kapre into the woods when he was gathering some firewood to sell in the town. That Kapre was squatting on the ground while smoking his cigar. He had a very foul smell that attracted so many flies to hove around him. I don’t know if that was a made up story by my father. But he always believed  in so many strange things. I loved hearing his stories.**–**

I made this article to introduce the top scariest urban legend creatures in the Philippines. I believe that there were more, however at this time I only included in this list those who had a  supporting stories told by some people  I knew. It’s always up to you readers which of these stories mentioned above find you so believable and you think are closer to reality. As for me I always respect other people stories, it doesn’t matter to me  if they are real or just made up by their imagination. But if you have to ask me if I believed in these kind of phenomena my answer is I’ll believe it when I see it. Moreover I am not closing my self to any possibilities that life here on Earth is full of strange happenings that even Science failed to explain what they really are.

Thank you and Happy Halloween!



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