When thinking of spine-tingling monsters, most think of Japanese horror stories or creepy Korean urban legends. You may be surprised to find the Philippines has its fair share of mythic creatures that are as bizarre as they are mortifying - not to mention, there's this major baby-eating trend with Filipino monsters. Pranksters, witches, and deathbed stalkers also have a place in the line-up of scary creatures prowling around the Southeast Asian country.
Most myths have some kernel of truth to them, like weird creation stories that explain documented tragedies or natural disasters. However, that's not the case with the urban myths of the Philippines - these tales are woven with the sole intent of terrifying you. Compiled in this list are contemporary legends of mythical Filipino creatures that will have you checking over your shoulder as you read.
The Aswang is a monster from Filipino folklore that can shapeshift from a human form into various animals. They have a combination of traits similar to ghouls and vampires, such as feeding on corpses and on the blood of the living. Aswangs are also active in both the day and night, and are able to turn humans into Aswangs through biting.
Aswangs are feared for breaking into houses to feed on small children and unborn fetuses. Some have an elongated organ that protrudes from their mouths to suck fetuses out of the womb while the mother sleeps. Red- and black-beaded bracelets can be placed on the wrists of newborns as a protective measure against Aswangs. In addition, an Aswang can be repelled and killed with garlic, salt, prayer, holy objects, and when all else fails, decapitation is always a good way to go.
The Sigbin, a type of Aswang, varies by region. It can resemble a reptilian crow or a goat. Its front legs are significantly shorter than its hind legs and it moves in a backwards crabwalk with its head drooping down. It smells pretty foul and can jump high distances. Apparently, they stalk children after sundown, eating all but their hearts. Sigbin hoard the hearts of their victims and craft amulets out of them.
This particularly nasty breed of monster impregnates virgins, then returns to kill the woman and eat the fetus. Another version of the lore says the Matruculan eats both the mother and unborn child. The Matruculan has a higher probability of stealing and eating a baby if it doesn’t have one of its own growing elsewhere. Strangely enough, it’s believed a husband can protect his wife and child by swinging a butterfly knife or a balisong over her belly during labor.
The Manananggal is a type of Aswang that is often called "Tik-tik" as a result of the sound it makes while in flight, although the sound actually gets fainter as she nears. This creature takes on an attractive female form with weathered batwings. She is capable of detaching her upper body from her lower body, flying off with only the upper half when hunting. To kill one, you have to find the monster's lower body and spread salt or ash over the open wound to prevent the two halves of the Manananggal from being whole again.
In the Philippines, it’s believed that the souls of unbaptized babies go into a state of limbo after death and return as evil spirits. These hypnotic, mythological creatures are known as Tiyanak. These monsters have sharp teeth and the power to shapeshift. According to lore, Tiyanak lure their prey deep into the woods by making the pitiful sounds of a crying baby. Some victims say they actually find a baby, but when they pick it up, it transforms into a monster that tries to eat them whole.
The Bangungot takes the form of an old, fat woman who lives up in the trees. She sits her enormous *ss on your chest and suffocates you to death. What crime enrages the Bangungot? Well, anyone cutting down her trees or holding something made from her tree's wood.
The environmental spirits called Engkanto have often been compared to common creatures of lore like elves, fairy-folk, or sirens. Their behavior can be unpredictable - Engkanto can either bestow you with good fortune or cause horrible things to happen. Shaman used to try to communicate with the Engkanto on holy days, appealing to their generous side to gain healing powers and knowledge. However, anyone who gets on the bad side of an Engkanto is plagued with depression, disease, madness, and sometimes, even possession.
The Tikbalang have the head and hooves of a stallion, but the body of a man. Legends differ from throughout the regions. According to those in the North, this odd creature is harmless, in that it doesn't eat babies. Tikbalang find it hilarious to make travelers hallucinate. The only way to make them stop is by flipping your shirt inside out and telling the Tikbalang to knock it off.
The stories of Tikbalang from the South speak of an evil, red-eyed demon horse, constantly puffing a cigar. Tikbalang are prone to fits of rage that can end with stomping people to death. According to the myth, if you pluck three hairs from its mane, a Tikbalang will be your slave forever.