SUPERSTITIONS, GHOSTS, MYTHICAL CREATURES AND MYTHS IN THE PHILIPPINES

SUPERSTITIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Felisa Daskeo wrote in anthropology.knoji.com: “Filipinos are very superstitious, especially the old people. Added to that, the beliefs have great influence in their day to day life. Many people still believe that these superstitious beliefs can help them cope with life; although many new generations aren't affected by the beliefs and consider them only part of the old ways. Many Filipinos still cling to the traditional practices, beliefs and traditions. They are still strongly rooted to the superstitious beliefs that they believe could help them deal with day to day occurrences and events. [Source: Felisa Daskeo, anthropology.knoji.com, October 1, 2012 *-*]

“Many Filipinos still spice their life with superstitious beliefs that they strongly believe could help them cope with day to day activities especially the most important events in life such as marriage, finding a job and moving to a new house. To a lot of Filipinos, superstitious beliefs are very crucial in making decisions and planning an important event. The superstitious beliefs of Filipinos are often consulted especially during important occasions such as weddings, trips, moving to a new house, opening a business, finding a job and many more major events in life. *-*

Former President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines keeps a cracked mirror in his home to ward off bad spirits. Filipinos still slit the throat of a white chicken and sprinkle its blood over the construction site of a new home for good luck.

Common superstitions: 1) If a person bites his tongue, it means somebody is thinking of him; 2) A girl with white spots on her fingernails is inconstant in love; 3) It is bad to sweep the floor at six o'clock in the evening for it means driving away good fortune and graces; 4) It is bad to sweep the floor when there are people playing cards or gambling because luck is being swept away; 5) One should not open an umbrella while inside a house; a centipede is likely to fall from the ceiling and he will be bitten by it; 6) If a pregnant woman sews her dress while wearing it, her baby will be born without a hole in the rectum; 7) Appearance of a comet foretells war, pestilence and calamity; 8) When a star gets near the moon, it is an omen of war. [Source: livinginthephilippines.com ]

The lucky dates of the twelve months of the year are the following: January 1, 3, 4, 5, 28, 29; February 2, 4, 5, 17, 26, 27, 28; March 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 April 2, 6, 25, 26, 27; May 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 18, 20; June 3, 5, 16, 19, 24, 30; July 4, 12, 15, 19, 26; August 6, 9, 14, 19, 26, 31; September 3, 12, 20, 21, 29; October 7, 12, 17, 24, 29, 30; November 1, 2, 11, 18, 23, 28; December 5, 8, 16, 20, 24, 25./~/

The Filipinos have a whole Pantheon of Gods like Bathala, Lakampati, Kabunian, Diyan Masalanta, etc. Most of these stories are passed orally, and some tribes have different names for the same deity. So, there is a lot of confusion about the names of Gods, and the mythology associated with them. Due to Christian and Islamic influence, most Filipinos believe in a single Supreme Being, but follow the ancient traditions. Some people also believe in their native Gods, practicing a blend of animism and Islam or Christianity. Some of the remote tribes and rural populace worship Diwatas (plant or animal spirits), and are generally more superstitious. [Source: Buzzle.com]

“Some Filipino Christians believe in the existence and power of anitos (minor deities which are revered and esteemed as intermediaries to God); they believe in the power of quacks and faith-healers to cure certain ailments that physicians could not; they believe in the power of witches to inflict illness on any individual who has incurred their displeasure. Many Filipino Christians still cling to ancient beliefs and practices. Superstition is a fixed irrational idea; a notion maintained in spite of evidence to the contrary. A person may be said to be superstitious if he believes in, is addicted to, or is swayed by ideas or notions contrary to reason or scientific knowledge.” /~/

Ten Superstitions That Influence The Lives of Filipinos

Felisa Daskeo wrote in anthropology.knoji.com: “Here are 10 superstitious beliefs that many Filipinos believe can help them deal with life. 1) The phase of the moon is very important when planning very important events. According to Filipino beliefs, the phase of the moon is crucial when planning something. Thus, it is better to find a job during the waxing period of the moon rather than during the waning period. 2) A black cat crossing your path means bad luck. Many people in the Philippines believe that when a cat crosses their path they should go back to their house and postpone their plan or errand for the day because pushing with the plan may produce bad results. To some, the black cat means a warning that something dangerous maybe waiting to happen. In order to be safe, people prefer to stay at home first. [Source: Felisa Daskeo, anthropology.knoji.com, October 1, 2012 *-*]

3) The bride should never try on the wedding dress. It is believed that if the bride tries on the wedding dress before the wedding takes place, the wedding will not pursue or something negative will occur. 4) A single woman who sings while cooking will marry a widower. Single women are often advised not to sing while cooking because they will marry a widower. 5) Combing hair at night means you are inviting the early death of your parents. The old people forbid combing hair at night because of the belief. 6) Black ants inside the house means good luck. When black ants are parading inside the house, you should be happy because it means that there is something good brewing. It could mean money coming or a job promotion. *-*

7) Taking pictures with your boyfriend or girlfriend means engagement will be broken. If you want to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend then avoid taking pictures with him or her. In some instances, young men and women who are just playing around with their girlfriend or boyfriend would invite their sweetheart to take pictures with them in the hope that their relationship will end. Some surprisingly achieve their wish but others end up marching to the altar. *-*

8) Before moving to a new house; you should bring the following to the house first: salt, rice, water and a religious image. According to Filipino beliefs, these things will help bring positive energy to the house which will help the occupants become successful. 9) You should not sit on a pillow because it will mean slow recovery from an illness. According to beliefs, a person who sits on his pillow will undergo a slow recovery process when he gets sick. 10) A child becomes smarter if you trim his hair when he is exactly one year old then insert his cut hair between books. According to beliefs of some Filipinos; children are supposed to have their hair trimmed only if they are already one year old. Some strongly forbid trimming the kids’ hair if they are not yet one year old. According to some, it is best if you trim the child’s hair and insert the cut hair in books. *-*

These are only superstitious beliefs but many Filipinos make these beliefs part of their day to day life. Whether they are advantageous or disadvantageous depends on how the person involved sees the situation. The modern age has made many Filipinos changed their lifestyle including the traditions. Most of the younger generations do not anymore believe in superstitious beliefs. *-*

117 Common Superstitions in the Philippines

According to livinginthephilippines.com: 1) If one passes through the window instead of the door, a ghost will come. 2) When two dogs bark at night there is a ghost. 3) Before six o'clock at night, children should be in the house or else they may bump into a person without a head. 4) When one passes by an anthill, one should ask to be excused, otherwise, a spirit will play tricks on that person. 5) A person who always uses a bandage on Fridays is a witch. 1) If a person bites his tongue, it means somebody is thinking of him. 2) A girl with white spots on her fingernails is inconstant in love. 3) It is bad to sweep the floor at six o'clock in the evening for it means driving away good fortune and graces. 4) It is bad to sweep the floor when there are people playing cards or gambling because luck is being swept away. 5) One should not open an umbrella while inside a house; a centipede is likely to fall from the ceiling and he will be bitten by it. 6) If a pregnant woman sews her dress while wearing it, her baby will be born without a hole in the rectum. 7) If a pregnant woman sits on the stairs, she will have a difficult time in delivering her baby. 8) If a pregnant woman wears a necklace or a choker, the umbilical cord of her baby will also be wound around its neck endangering its life. 9) If the direction of the wooden slats of a floor are not parallel to the stairs, good fortune will not come to the dwellers of the house. 10) If sweethearts give each other gifts like shoes or slippers, their relationship will not last long. 11) If a boy gives his sweetheart a necklace as a gift and the necklace is broken, it means that they are not meant for each other. 12) If the coffin of a dead person bumps against something during the funeral, someone will soon die. 13) If the coffin of a dead person is too big for his size, someone will also die soon. 14) In bringing the coffin down the house, the head should be the first so that the dead will have an easy journey to his destiny. 15) The dead in the coffin should face the rising sun upon interment so that his soul will not suffer very much. 16) If two sisters or two brothers get married within the same year, one will have a prosperous married life; the other, a sorrowful life. 17) If a couple receives a urinal as a wedding gift they wife have luck, prosperity and riches. 18) If a couple receives a crucifix as a wedding gift, they will have a peaceful relationship. 19) In a church wedding ceremony, the first of the couple to reach the altar and to go out of the church will be the dominant one. [Source: livinginthephilippines.com /~/]

“20) If the veil sponsor in the wedding ceremony is still single, she is doomed to be an old maid. 21) He whose candle is put off during the wedding ceremony wife die first. 22) If a pregnant woman looks beautiful and kind, she will have a baby girl; if she looks ugly and cruel, she will have a baby boy. 23) A pregnant woman who gives birth to a baby boy will have a painful delivery; one who has a girl will have an easy delivery. 24) If one combs his hair at night, his parents will die. 25) If one puts his used plates over those of others while some are still eating, the last one to leave the table will have many problems. 26) If one gives a wallet or a bag as a gift, he must put some money in it or else such wallet or bag will bring bad luck. 27) Counting money on the midnights of December 24 up to January 1 of the New Year will bring a person endless wealth during the whole year. 28) One must pay all his debts before January 1st of the New Year or else he will always be in debt the whole year. 29) Rice bags and salt containers in the home must always be full to maintain a bountiful life. 30) On Good Fridays one must not do hard work, take a bath, eat meat or make any noise because God is dead. 31) On Easter Sunday, all children must jump high upon hearing the sound of the church Easter bells so that they will grow taller. 32) There must be a feast or banquet on Easter Sunday to celebrate the new life of Jesus Christ. 33) When a person receives as a gift a statue of Buddha with children around him, the receiver will be lucky with his children. 34) When a person receives as a gift a statue of Buddha without children around him, the receiver's business will fail. 35) If one receives a jade stone or his own birth stone as a gift, he wife be lucky in life. 36) If one receives a diamond as a gift, he will be lucky in business. 37) Putting a statue of Sto) Niño(The Holy Child) in one's store or business place brings good luck. 38) One must make the sign of the cross before he leaves his house or before taking a long journey so that he will arrive safely at his destination. 39) If one breaks a mirror, he will have seven years of bad luck./~/

“40) Upon transferring to a new house, the occupants must bring rice and salt first so that they will have a prosperous life in that house) 41) If a relative dies, the children related to the dead must be lifted across the coffin before it is put into the grave so that the soul of the dead will not visit them. 42) During interment of the dead, the children should wear red clothes so that the soul of the dead will not bother them. 43) The people in the first house to which a newly-baptized child is brought should voluntarily give some money so that a good and prosperous life will come to the child. 44) Eating peanuts makes a person intelligent. 45) If parents want their child to be a good orator or speaker when he grows, they must feed him with the cooked female organ of a pig. 46) If the umbilical cord of a baby is inserted in the staircase of the house, its grasp will be strong. 47) If red ants are abundant in a certain part of a house, good fortune will come to the occupants of the house) 48) If one's left palm is itchy, money is coming to him; if his right palm is itchy, money will be spent by him. 49) If a black butterfly enters the house, someone in the family will die. 50) If a baby is born with a mole on his forehead, he will grow up an intelligent man. 51) If a baby is born with a mole on his shoulder, he will have a lot of hardships and sorrow in life. 52) If a baby is born with a mole on his foot, he will travel a lot. 53) If a baby is born with a mole near his eye, he will be easily widowed, and for several times. 54) When the temporary tooth of a child is extracted, that tooth should be thrown out with a request that the rats should give him another new and fine tooth. 55) Broken mirrors or glasses in the house should be removed; otherwise, good luck will not come to that house. 56) A man with natural curly hair is temperamental and moody. 57) A man with a hairline that is elongated at the back is stingy. 58) A man with a deep nape is stingy. 59) A woman with a mole at the nape will have many suitors. /~/

“60) A child with two cowlicks on his head is a hard-headed but lucky child. 61) There should be pansit or noodles in a birth celebration so that the celebrant will have a long life. 62) If there is a pregnant woman in a house, garlic, vinegar and a bob should be placed on the window so that vampires will not eat the fetus. 63) A woman who has just delivered a baby should take hot soup after her first bath so that she will regain her youthful skin. 64) If one wants to be remembered by a friend, she should put that friend's picture under her own pillow when she sleeps at night. 65) Upon entering a town church for the first time, one should make a wish so that good luck will come to him. 66) In constructing a house, silver coins or cash money are put within the principal posts so that prosperity will come to the dwellers of that house. 67) If one gets lost on his way to a certain place, he should invert his shirt and he will find his way. 68) A woman with thick and rounded heels is by nature lazy. 69) A person with a flat foot is by nature a slow-foot. 70) A person with a wide forehead is intelligent. 71) A person with a narrow forehead is dull. 72) A person with a mole on the lips is talkative. 73) A person with a mole between the two eyes is lucky in business. 74) A person with a wide shoulder is lazy. 75) One must not spend money on a Monday because money will be going out of his pocket the whole week. 76) A businessman must make sure that his first customer on Mondays buys from him, otherwise business the whole week will not be good. 77) A sponsor in a house blessing must toss coins as he holds a lighted candle inside the house so that prosperity and good luck will come to the dwellers. 78) Lending or giving out rice from your house at night brings bad luck. 79) The main door of the house should face the rising sun so that good luck and abundance will come inside the house. /~/

“80) Using broken plates inside the house brings bad luck. 81) Flowerpots should not be placed one over the other because there will be misfortune for the family year after year. 82) When there is hard rain and strong lightning, one should spray vinegar au over the house and cover all the mirrors so that the lightning will not strike the house. 83) A baby's eyelashes should be cut short within its first three months so that they will grow long and curly. 84) A newly-born baby should be tossed up into the air after its first bath so that it will not grow up a frightful person. 85) Changing the name of a baby who is critically ill may save his life. 86)Cutting one's fingernails on days when the Sorrowful Mysteries is prayed brings bad luck. 87) When a person changes his place from one to another while eating, he will be unfaithful to his life partner. 88) Sweeping the floor when there is a wake for the dead in that house is never done because someone else in the family will also die. 89) Helping a baby to turn on its stomach for the first time is not good for it will grow up a very dependent person. 90) One must avoid giving handkerchiefs as gifts because the recipient of the handkerchiefs is likely to cause grief to the giver. 91) Sweethearts should not be baptismal sponsors of the same child; therwise, their relationship will not end up in marriage. 92) A pregnant woman should not have her picture taken because her baby will be born abnormal. 93) A pregnant woman should not act as a baptismal sponsor because her baby might die. 94) The first time a baby lies face down, he should be placed sitting on a basin so that he will be wealthy when he grows up. 95) A hungry person must not greet a child; otherwise, the child will grow thin from a bad stomach ache. 96) During the first three months of a woman's pregnancy she should not be fond of babies or else she will vomit and become uncomfortable. 97) During the period of intense craving felt by a conceiving woman, she should not take notice of fruit-bearing trees for the trees might die. 98) A woman who sings while cooking will not be able to marry throughout her life. 99) A younger child in the family should not get married ahead of the older one because misfortune will befall him; the older one may not get married anymore. /~/

“100) Bad luck will come to the dwellers of a house whose last step of the stairs faces the main exit of the house. 101) Houses on dead end street should not have gates directly facing the street; otherwise, an occupant of the house will die from an accident. 102) If tears are shed on the coffin of the dead, the soul of the dead person will never have peace. 103) When there are cats fighting in the neighborhood, children of one family will soon also be fighting one another. 104) When one goes to borrow money from a friend and on the way a cat crosses his path, she should not go on with his intention because the cat is an indication that his friend will not lend him money. 105) Talking when eating something is an act of rejecting God's grace. 106) Visitors should be asked to enter the house at once and not stop at the door or else the pregnant woman in the house will have some suffering. 107) The new-born should be given ampalaya (bitter melon) juice before the first breast feeding to improve the baby's appetite and prevent his becoming choosey or finicky about food when he grows up. 108) The child's bath should be withheld on Fridays to prevent his developing serious illness. 109) The baby's first nail trimmings should be buried under the stairway to prevent falls. 110) The placenta should be buried near the kitchen to keep both mother and baby healthy. 111) The cord stump should be carefully watched and kept immediately if it falls off, for if a mouse gets hold of it the baby would be sickly. 112) To ensure a bright future for the child, the mother places coins, papers, pencils or diamond rings in the basin used for his first bath. 113) Eczematous children are dressed in black clothes to make the course of the disease shorter. 114) Skin eruptions are treated with saliva and chewed buyo leaves applied on the skin. 115) A house in which a member of the family dies is burned or abandoned to prevent illness and death of the other members of the family. 116) Seven (7) is a lucky number and all other odd numbers are lucky). 117) The premature delivery of a baby is an evidence of sin. /~/

Groupings of Superstitions Among Filipinos

Filipinos have their own set of superstitious beliefs they have inherited from their ancestors. Such superstitions cover all departments of life like building a house, birth, romance, marriage, how to attract good luck and shoo away bad luck, promotion of sound health and avoiding sickness, and superstitions on death itself. Some of these superstitious are distinctly Filipino while others have been derived from other cultures. Some are amusing others appear downright ridiculous if not exasperating. While most of these beliefs are national in scope, some are confined to a particular ethnic or regional group. Below are examples of these superstitious beliefs. [Source: felixfojas.wordpress.com , March 6, 2012 ^*^]

Money-related Superstitions: 1) Paying a debt at night brings bad luck. 2) Never let money pass through a window because money will run away from you. 3) Avoid borrowing money on the first hour of the day, the first day of the week, the first week of the month, and the first month of the year. You will never become rich and will always be haunted by creditors. 4) Black ants inside the house are an omen of good fortune. 5) Placing money bills or coins on top of the dining table attracts bad luck for it means that all your income will go to food expenses and nothing will be left for other things. 6) Showering the rooms of a new house with coins before moving in will bring prosperity. 7) Ornamental plants with round leaves inside the house are signs of good luck, while keeping vines that grow downward are bad luck. 8) Bills should be arranged neatly inside the wallet or purse from the largest to the smallest denomination in such a way that when you open your wallet the first to be seen will be the largest bill. 9) Do not shun or avoid keeping creased or dirty money. You should not regard money as something filthy. 10) Don’t put your bag or wallet on the ground because it is debasing the worth of money. 11) Do not hoard money. Let it circulate by putting it in a bank or buying something with it. 12) Use your right hand when paying money and the left hand when receiving money. 13) Use green-colored objects to attract money. 14) If you keep money in a pouch roll the bills into circles because circles represent infinity. ^*^

New Year Superstitions: 1) Wear a polka-dot shirt or dress to prosperity on New Year’s Eve to attract prosperity the whole year round. 2) Exploding firecrackers and ringing bells at the stroke of midnight on New Year will bring good luck. 3) If the first sound one hears at the stroke of midnight is a dog barking or a cock crowing, the coming year will be gloomy for such is an omen of financial difficulties ahead, sickness, typhoons and other calamities. But if the first sound is that of a goat, a cow or a carabao (water buffalo), the year ahead will be prosperous. 4) On New Year one must refrain from buying a lot of things, instead one must save money to increase one’s savings the whole year. 5) Merchants should sell their wares at a low price during New Year to attract more business. 6) Raining on New Year means prosperity and a bountiful harvest for the year. 7) Everyone must rise early and keep busy on New Year. 8) Whatever one does on New Year, whether constructive or counter-productive, will determine how he will fare for the rest of the year. ^*^

Superstitions about Death: 1) A black butterfly flitting inside the house will bring death in the household. 2) A dog barking or howling continuously signifies the impending death of its master. 3) A man without shadow will soon die. 4) Candles must be burned for the dead to protect them from evil spirits. 5) A picture falling from the wall on its own is an omen of the death of the person in the picture. 6) Sleeping in front of a mirror can cause the death of that person whose soul might get trapped in the mirror. 7) Trampling on a man’s shadow can cause his death. 8) Dreaming of an extracted tooth means death of a close relative. 9) Among the Ilocanos dreaming of the loss of a hat, broken earrings and clothes swept away by a river current will mean the death of a relative or close friend. Dreaming of a jar of money means impending death of a family member among Bicolanos. To Aklanons a boat ride is an omen of death in the family. 10) In Central Luzon it is believed that if it rains when a person dies is a sign that such a person was a good man since even the heavens weep for him. 11) Smelling the fragrance of flowers for the dead means someone will die. 12) The spirit of a person who dies a violent day will become earthbound. 13) A dead person who is buried with his shoes on will haunt his relatives and, during his arrival, his loud footsteps will be heard. 14) Before a dead person is buried his shoes or slippers must be removed and placed beside his legs so that St. Peter will welcome him at Heaven’s gate. For a relative to assist in carrying the coffin to the grave will mean another death in the family. 15) The Ilocanos break a plate as an offering to the dead. 16) No kin should look back or attempt to go back to the house after the funeral procession has started. 17) Leytenos bring out the coffin from the house through the window to make it easier for the newly departed to rest in peace. 18) If a rosary is placed in the hand of the dead prior to burial, its string should be snapped because continuity in the beads will mean another death in the family. 19) A person who sneezes in front of a corpse will also die. 20) Many Filipinos bury precious items with the dead for use in the afterlife. 21) Right before the coffin is lowered in the grave, the children of the dead person are made to step across the coffin while adults throw flowers into the open grave so the spirit of the departed kin will not haunt them. ^*^

Sundry Superstitions: 1) Meeting a funeral entourage, riding a vehicle with 13 passengers, or traveling on a Good Friday invites bad luck and accidents. 2) Among the Maranaws of Mindanao, hearing the sound of a house lizard is an omen that one should not travel on that day. 3) Walking under a ladder is bad luck. 4) Cavitenos believe that a son or daughter who is devoted to his or her parents will receive a lot of blessings after the death of the parents. 5) A baby greeted and kissed by a stranger will get sick. 6) A person whose face does not reflect in the mirror is either a vampire or a witch. 7) If a person cannot look another in the eye, he is surely possessed by an evil spirit. 8) Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck. 9) A maiden who sings in front of a stove will marry a widower. 10) A spoon that accidentally drops on the floor means that an unexpected female visitor will arrive. If it is a fork that drops means that the surprise visitor will be a man. 11) It is unlucky to cut one’s hair or fingernails after sundown. 12) If one accidentally bites his tongue people are talking about him. 13) It is bad luck to comb one’s hair after dark. 14) If one sleeps while his hair is still wet, he will develop bad eyesight. 15) If a bad spirit tries to confuse and mislead a traveller, reversing his shirt will enable him to reach his destination safely. 16) If one catches a two-tailed lizard, he will be lucky in gambling. 17) Throwing a handful of salt into the fire will bring instant relief to a depressed person. ^*^

Flower and Plant Omens: 1) The kalachuchi, a Philippine ornamental plant, is believed to be a harbinger of death. 2) A family living in a house surrounded by flowers called bandera espanola will always run into debt, no matter how large its income. 3) The barrio folks of Negros Occidental believe that the fragrance of the dama de noche attracts witches. 4) The Cebuanos believe that the azucena flower brings misfortune and even death. In contrast young swains in Northern Mindanao consider the same flower as a lucky love charm. 5) In Cebu the century plant, a hardy ornamental vine, is also considered as a plant that attracts death in the family. 6) In the mountain barrio of Igboras, Iloilo, the tree of the fragrant ilang-ilang is regarded as bad luck because evil spirits always haunts it. 7) The fishermen of Semirara Island in Antique believe that the everlasting flower is lucky because it brings a big catch to fishermen and staves off danger at sea. 8) Many folks subscribe to the superstition that the wood rose can ward off lightning and brings long life. ^*^

Meaning of Moles in the Philippines

1) A mole on the back of a man augurs conflict and misfortune, while on a woman it foretells hardship in life and difficulty in giving birth. 2) A mole on the back of the neck means that the person is a liar and is an unfaithful lover. 3) A mole on the left shoulder means that the person will carry a heavy burden in life. 4) A mole on the temple is a sign of wisdom and courage. 5) A mole in between the eyebrows means that a person easily attracts the opposite sex and has magnetic appeal. 6 ) A mole on the eyebrow in a man means that he is a flirt and is inconstant in affairs of the heart. In the case of a woman it means loyalty when it comes to love. [Source: felixfojas.wordpress.com , March 6, 2012 ^*^]

7) For both men and women, a mole on the corner of the eye where the tears flow means the person will always survive his or her mate and marry many times. 8) A person who has a mole on the center of his forehead means that he possesses an acute intellect and will be successful in business. 9) A mole on the nose means that a person is oversexed. 10) A mole on the left chin is a sign of prosperity and many children. 11) A mole on the right chin means that the person has a good heart and knows how to manage his financial resources. 12) A mole on the upper lip means good luck in marriage. 13) A mole on the neck means lung problems but also a big inheritance. ^*^

14) A mole on the center of the chest means that the person will always be happy, loyal, and brave and is protective of his name and honor. 15) A mole on a man’s heart means that he is a flirt while on a woman means that she is loyal when it comes to love. 16) A person who has a mole on the right side of his chest just above the ribs is a sign of cowardice and a low intelligence. 17) A mole on the stomach indicates that the person is a glutton, is selfish, and is untidy in the way he grooms himself. 18) In a woman a mole near the navel means she will bear a lot of children, while in a man it means that he will always be energetic. 19) A mole on the hips signifies that the person will have many children, has a sound health, is industrious and has forbearance. 20) A mole on the right thigh means prosperity and happiness in marriage. 21) A mole on the left thigh means a life of hardship and lack of friendship. 22) A mole on the right knee means that a person will have a happy marriage but will lack friends. 23) A mole on the leg is a sign of a lazy and irresponsible person. 24) In a man a mole on the heel indicates that he is fond of grooming himself and wearing stylish clothes. In a woman it means that she is stubborn but industrious.

House Building Superstitions

1) Palm fronds consecrated by a priest are placed in the different corners of the house to prevent the entry of evil spirits. 2) In the Tagalog region, house plans in the shape of a cross are supposed to be a jinx. 3) The owner of a new house that has been superimposed on an old house will have a short life. 4) A sunken living room brings bad luck and sickness to the house. 5) Doors that face west will bring quarrels, diseases and death in the family. 6) A mirror placed on the wall facing the main door of a house will deflect good luck that enters the house. 7) The foundation of a post should be bathed with the blood of a pig or white chicken to appease the spirits presiding on the land on which the house was erected. This is based on an ancient Filipino tradition. 8) To make a house typhoon-resistant, the posts should be turned clockwise before being permanently cemented and secured. 9) Allowing the shadow of a post to fall on you while erecting it is a bad omen. Shadows falling in the holes dug for securing the posts also bring bad luck. [Source: felixfojas.wordpress.com , March 6, 2012 ^*^]

10) Using posts with cracks will attract bad luck. 11) The ridge of the roof should face neither east nor west. 12) To bring good luck to a child, its first extracted milk tooth is hidden under the roof. 13) It is bad luck to sweep the floor at night. Aside from sweeping away the wealth in the house, it will also cause centipedes crawling on the ceiling to fall down. 14) Erecting a house in front of a dead-end street will bring bad luck to its occupants, whether it is the original owners or tenants. Although this superstition is locally attributed to the Pampangos of Central Luzon, it probably originated from the Chinese who believe that a house with such a location is bad feng sui and will bring financial misfortune or a death in the family. 15) Another popular house-building superstition is the cornerstone laying ritual of burying coins under the posts of a house being erected to attract prosperity and good luck. This practice originated from the Ilocanos of Northern Luzon. ^*^

16) Among the Tagalogs of Southern Luzon, the number of the stair-steps is crucial and must be counted in a series of threes called oro, plata and mata or gold, silver and death, respectively. The counting should start from the bottom rung and end on the topmost rung. If the topmost rung coincides with oro or plata, it will attract good. If, however, the aforementioned rung coincides with mata, it will bring bad luck. 17) For those living in concrete houses, an old coin must be imprinted on the cemented doorstep to ensure a steady flow of money. 18) It is imperative that a house faces east where the sun rises to guarantee prosperity. In contrast, a house that faces west where the sun sets is a jinx and will bring bad luck. This superstition was borrowed from the Ancient Chinese. 19) Doors should always be on the right side of the house and the stairs should always turn to the right to keep a married couple loyal to each other for life. Doors erected on the left side of the house and stairs that turn to the left will encourage infidelity. 20) Doors should not be built facing each other for it portends that money will come in easily but will also rush out quickly. As a stopgap measure, doors can be built parallel to walls so that money entering the house will stay in the house and be saved. 21) Septic tanks must not be constructed higher than the ground for it would demand a sacrifice in human life. Neither should septic tanks and toilets be built near the kitchen because it would contaminate the food in a psychic sense and will bring sickness to the family. 22) The owner must transfer to the new house not later than six in the morning during the new moon to attract good luck and prosperity, and the first things that must be brought inside the house are salt, rice and coins. ^*^

23) No part of the house should cover or hang over the stump of a newly cut tree. Neither should a new house overlap any portion of an old house. 24) A two-story building that is remodeled into a single story will shorten the lives of its occupants. 25) A snake that enters the house brings good luck as long as it doesn’t bite any of the occupants. This is probably based on the practice of Filipinos during the Spanish colonial times to keep pythons in the partition between the roof and the ceiling to reduce the rodent population the house. 26) While number 7 and 11 bring good luck, number 13 is never used as an address number or the number of a story in a building. 27) An injury to a construction worker while a house or building is being erected is an omen of bad luck that can be neutralized by killing a pig or a white chicken and sacrificing its blood to the spirits. 28) A balete tree is considered to be haunted and must not be cut down when building a house or else the spirits will attack the construction workers as well as the owner of a house. ^*^

Conception, Pregnancy and Birth Superstitions

1) A conceiving woman should only be shown photographs of beautiful women and handsome men in order to give birth to a beautiful baby. If she sees photos of ugly people, she might give birth to an ugly babe. Likewise, a woman’s favorite food during conception will affect the physical characteristics of her child. Say if a woman likes to eat pork a lot, she might give birth to a baby that looks like a pig or has a hairy birthmark just like the skin of a pig. 2) If the pregnant woman hops over her husband, her morning sickness will transfer to her husband. 3) Anyone who shares the food being eaten by a pregnant woman will suffer from spells of drowsiness, dizziness and vomiting. 4) Plants will wither and trees will bear sour fruits if touched by a pregnant woman. [Source: felixfojas.wordpress.com , March 6, 2012 ^*^]

5) If a pregnant woman eats eggplants her baby will have violet discolorations on its skin, while eating twin bananas will cause her to give birth to twins. 6) If a woman looks pretty during pregnancy she will give birth to a girl, whereas if she looks ugly she will give birth to a boy. In the same vein, if the woman’s stomach is rounded, it will be a girl; but if the stomach is pointed, the baby will be a boy. 7) A pregnant woman must not attend funerals, have her picture taken, or stand under doorways for it will lead to a difficult delivery or even death of the baby. 8) A woman who accidentally falls down hard will deliver a hare-lipped baby. 9) Pregnant women are prone to aswang (vampire) attacks. Garlic should be hung near the windows and the husband must always keep a stingray tail in the bedroom to discourage vampires from entering it and eating the foetus. ^*^

10) Pregnant women should bathe in the afternoon to prevent hypertension. 11) A pregnant woman who watches a lunar eclipse is in danger of having a miscarriage. She must not leave the house at sundown or twilight without wearing a shawl on her head to prevent giving birth to a bald child. 12) The birth of a child signals good luck in the family. 13) To make a baby fortunate wrap it in old or borrowed clothes. 14) It is unlucky to show a baby’s clothes before it is born. 15) When breast-feeding a woman’s milk will curdle if she eats watermelon, mangoes or any sour fruit for that matter. 16) Breast-feeding mothers should drink a lot of milk to produce a good supply of milk. 17) A baby’s umbilical cord must be immediately buried upon the birth of a child to attract good luck. A baby with its umbilical cord wrapped around its neck like a noose will mean good luck. 18) A baby born with its head covered with a hood of thin skin will not die by drowning and will become famous when it grows up. ^*^

Usog (Filipino Evil Eye)

Usog or balis is a topic in psycho-medicine in Filipino Psychology (but considered just as a Filipino superstition in Western Psychology) where an affliction or psychological disorder is attributed to a greeting by a stranger, or an evil eye hex. It usually affects an unsuspecting child, usually an infant or toddler, who has been greeted by a visitor or a stranger. In some limited areas, it is said that the condition is also caused by the stranger having an evil eye or masamang mata in Tagalog, lurking around. This may have been influenced by the advent of the Spaniards who long believed in the mal de ojo superstition. [Source: Wikipedia]

Once affected, the child begins to develop fever, and sometimes convulsions. Supposedly, the child can be cured by placing its clothing in hot water and boiling it. In most other places, to counter the effects of the "usog" the stranger or newcomer is asked to put some of his or her saliva on the baby's abdomen, shoulder or forehead before leaving the house. The newcomer then leaves while saying: "Pwera usog... pwera usog..." The saliva is placed on the finger first, before the finger is rubbed on the baby's abdomen or forehead. The stranger is never to lick the child. The practice is that the stranger or visitor is asked to touch his or her finger with saliva to the child's body, arm or foot ("lawayan") to prevent the child from getting overpowered ("upang hindi mausog").

One theory explains usog in terms of child distress that leads to greater susceptibility to illness and diseases. There are observations that a stranger (or a newcomer or even a visiting relative) especially someone with a strong personality (physically big, boisterous, has strong smell, domineering, etc.) may easily distress a child. Thus, the child is said to be "overpowered" or nauusog and thus may feel afraid, develop fever, get sick, etc.

One person posted on philurbanlegends.blogspot.jp; “I don't know if usog still exist to Filipinos. Well maybe to old-fashioned Filipinos, but to modern youngsters, they ignore and don't believe on it any more. I am not saying all of the kids today, but definitely most of them including me. My parents still talk about this. I asked my grandmother about it and she told me she still believe in usog. I asked her why people insist to be licked in their stomach. She answered me, "Not always. You don't need to be licked, you just need their saliva. Just let them wet your stomach with it." Then I asked her again, "what's about saliva?" Well, the only thing she respond to me is, "Ewan ko ... Sabi nila eh." (I don't know ... That's what others said.) I'm still wondering who are those "nila" she was talking about. I think she was referring to those people who first told her about it.[Source: http://philurbanlegends.blogspot.jp <+>]

“Usog (others call it Balis and Hinsuokan) is an affliction that causes the affected person a headache, stomach pain, fever, convulsion and some more severe pains or disease. This is often discussed in Filipino Psychology. Usually, the victims of this are kids, but in some occasion adults. If an adult is still experiencing usog, it means that he or she is still a weak person (Usogin). The person who causes usog are said to be overpowering. Not all people can cause usog to somebody. Actually, there are only few people who (I think) has a power to do this, like an evil eye. In folkloric explanation, there might be some mangkukulam (witch), who are looking badly at you, as if cursing you. Usog may had been influenced by the Spanish mal de ojo. <+>

“Cure: When you ask somebody how to counteract usog, most of them would answer the use of saliva. Usually, they will tell you to "Dilaan mo ako." (Lick me.) and/or "Lawayan mo ako." (Put saliva on me.) to avoid usog to the child you greeted. While doing so, he/she should say Pwera usog ... or Pwera barang .... If the person tells you to lick him, it doesn't mean to lick him in other parts of his body, but to his abdomen. The same place where you need to put the saliva. You just need to wet your finger with it, then rub it to him. In some cases, especially to babies, the finger is rubbed to his heel or sometimes in the forehead. In these two ways, rubbing finger wet with saliva is more used and preferrable. Other ways on healing or preventing usog is by means of placing the clothing of the afflicted kid or adult in a hot water and then boiling it. <+>

Santelmo, or Santo Elmo, is a fireball seen by dozens of Filipinos, especially those living in the Sierra Madre Mountains. It was scientifically explained as electric fields which have diverged from the lines. However, the sightings were reported since the Spanish era (16th-19th centuries). (See also Shinen and Will-o-Wisps) There were also sightings in the Alps and Himalayas.

Filipino Ghosts

Aswangs are shapeshifters. They are human-like by day but transform into different monstrous forms to harass and eat awake humans at night, especially pregnant women who are about to give birth. 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. Aswangs also have a peculiar liking for the fetus of pregnant women and are said to find their quarry by the scent of the mother, which to the aswang smells like ripe jackfruit. Upon finding the house of the pregnant mother, the aswang alights on the roof from where it stretches its tongue until it is as thin as a thread and uses it to enter the womb and feast on the fetus. "Aswang" can also be a generic term and can refer to all types of ghouls, mananangals, witches (mangkukulam), etc. [Source: budz-traditionalghostbeliefs.blogspot, Wikipedia +*+]

Pasatsat is word rooted on the Pangasinense word satsat, meaning "to stab". Pasatsats are ghosts of people who died or were killed in the Second World War. Coffins during the time were so expensive, so the families of the dead wrapped the corpses in reed mats or icamen. The dead were buried in places other than cemeteries because tomb robberies were rampant during that era of extreme poverty. These ghosts usually show up in solitary paths and block passersby. To get rid of such a ghost, one needs to stab (hence pasatsat) the reed mat and unravel it, but doing so will show no presence of a corpse, although the mat will emit a noxious odor, much like that of putrid flesh. +*+

Tiyanak or impakto are babies who died before receiving baptism rites. After death, they go to a place known as Limbo, a chamber of Hell where unbaptized dead people fall into, and transformed into evil spirits. These phantasms return into the mortal realm in the form of goblins to eat living victims. The tiyanak can also be the offspring of a woman and a demon. It can also be the aborted fetus, which comes to life to take revenge on its mother. Most Tiyanaks are said to live in forests. If they see a human, they transform into what looks like a normal baby. When the person notices the Tiyanak and comes near to take a look at it, that's when the Tiyanak changes back to its true form and eats its prey. +*+

White Lady - This is a very popular ghost in Philippines, and every town seems to have its own version, though the Balete Drive White Lady is the most prominent. 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 to complete an unfinished task or due to improper burial. It is sometimes used as an umbrella term for all supernatural creatures. Dila Dila is a spirit in the form of a tongue, which slides down through the bamboo flooring, and licks its victims to death.

Filipino Fairies and Mythical Creatures

Diwata (Anito)—also called Engkantada (female) or Engkanto (male)—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). Mariang Makiling is a fairy who dwells atop Laguna's Mount Makiling, an inactive volcano. Oral tradition described that Mount Makiling was once a castle and Mariang Makiling was a princess who fell in love with a mortal. [Source: budz-traditionalghostbeliefs.blogspot, Wikipedia +*+]

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. +*+

Juan Tamad is a lazy man who was buried under the soil by monkeys. The monkeys thought he was long dead because of his laziness. He is described as the laziest man on earth. Bungisngis is a one-eyed giant. This Philippine folklore giant lives in forest and woods. It is a happy and a playful cyclops. It is also commonly known as 'Mahentoy' in the northern part of Davao. Ekek are creatures who are bird-like humans. They are winged-humans who at night search for victims. They hunger for flesh and blood. In American Literature, it is like a vampire. +*+

Kapre is a filthy, dark giant who likes to smoke huge rolls of cigars, and hide within and atop large trees, particularly the balete and old acacia or mango trees. A Filipino bigfoot, it scares away little children who play at night. If you're stuck in a place and you keep going around in circles, you're said to be played around by a Kapre. To escape its control, you must remove your t-shirt, and wear it inside-out. +*+

A Sarimanok is a magical, mythical bird who brings good luck to anyone who are able to catch it. A Sarimanok known as Magaul is associated with the legend of Malakas and Maganda. Magaul was the Sarimanok bird that pecked the bamboo from where Malakas and Maganda were born from. 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. The manaul is a mythical king who became a bird. He was believed to have caused the seas and the skies to fight against each other. The clash between the seas and skies resulted to the formation of the Philippine islands. +*+

Sirena is a mermaid, a sea creature with a human upper body and a fish tail instead of lower extremities. They attract fishermen and tourists. Sirenas are reportedly often seen ashore by fishermen, especially in the towns bordering the Pacific Ocean. Siyokoy are mermen, sea creatures that have a human form and scaled bodies. The Siyokoy is the male counterpart of the Sirena. The lower extremities of a Philippine merman can either be a fishtail or scaled legs and webbed feet. They could also have long, green tentacles. They drown mortals for food. Siyokoys have gill slits, are colored brown or green, and have scaly skin, comparable to that of a fish. +*+

Although modernization is impacting the culture, the beliefs in these legends is strong, especially in the rural parts of the country. Comic books like Trese, Skyworld and The Mythology Class, based on the Filipino mythology, are very popular with the youth. TV shows like Marina, and video games often feature creatures and stories from mythology. There is also a group called questers, who travel to remote locales, researching the fantastic legends and myths. [Source: Buzzle.com]

Filipino Demons

Tikbalang or tigbalang (demon horse) is a half-man and half-horse creature. It has a horse's head, the body of a human but with the feet of the horse. It travels at night to rape female mortals. The raped women will then give birth to more tikbalang. They are also believed to cause travelers to lose their way particularly in mountainous or forest areas. Tikbalangs are very playful with people, and they usually make a person imagine things that aren't real. Sometimes a Tikbalang will drive a person crazy. Legends say that when rain falls while the sun is shining, a pair of Tikbalangs are being wed. Since horses only arrived in the Philippine archipelago during the Spanish colonization (thus, the borrowed term 'kabayo'), there is a theory that the image of a half-horse, half-man creature was propagated by the conquistadors to keep the natives afraid of the night. There are stories claiming that the Tikbalang are actually half-bird, half-man creatures, much like the Japanese tengu. [Source: budz-traditionalghostbeliefs.blogspot, Wikipedia +*+]

Nuno sa punso (literally, goblin of the mound) are goblins or elves who live within mysterious lumps of soil (ant hills). They can provide a person who steps on their shelter with good luck or misfortune. Superstitious Filipinos, when passing by a mound, will ask the resident nuno's permission to let them pass with the phrase, "Tabi-tabi po". Strange and sudden illnesses that befall a person are sometimes attributed to nunos. +*+

Manananggal

A manananggal is an aswang that can fly after separating itself from the lower half of its body. eats babies and fetuses from a mothers womb. It eats babies by means of passing their long tongue through a small hole from the roof of a house. The sharp end of the tongue touches the mother's navel to suck the blood of the fetus or unborn child. This creature's name was derived from the Filipino word, tanggal, which means "to separate" because of the manananggal's ability to separate itself from its lower body. Manananggals are sometimes referred to as tik-tik, the sound it makes while flying. Folklore dictates that the fainter the sound, the nearer the manananggal is. This is to confuse the victim. Black cats and crows often signal a tik-tik's presence, and deformed faces or bodies in children are allegedly signs of the aftermath of a tik-tik attack. [Source: budz-traditionalghostbeliefs.blogspot, Wikipedia +*+]

A manananggal can also be a sorceress that visits 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 then gains her ability to fly. 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 womb of the sleeping woman and to suck out the fetus. At other times, she seduces men with her beauty and lures them to a private place before eating them alive. She usually eats the insides, like the heart, stomach or the liver. 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. According to legend, 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 exposed flesh, 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. +*+

Filipino Witches

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. [Source: budz-traditionalghostbeliefs.blogspot, Wikipedia +*+]

Mangkukulam are witches, wizards, or sorcerers who cast evil spells to humans. This bewitcher is also called manggagaway. The Mangkukulam uses dark magic. Mangkukulam controls insects and uses them to harm people. These days she/he is also said to use dolls, influenced by the popularity of voodoo. 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. A wakwak is a witch or night bird belonging to a witch. Also said to be a vampire like creature who can take the form of a night bird. +*+

Witches of Philippines' Siquijor Province

Siquijor (15 miles from Demabguete on the island of Negros by ferry) is an island province famous for its witches and faith healers and nice deserted beaches. A number of shaman, mananambals (good and evil witches and warlocks) and sorcerers are said to live in Sant Antonio. The “bad side” sorcerers use voodoo potions, spider and poisonous snake agents and powerful plants to help people seeking revenge against others. The “good side” sorcerers are basically herbalists who use traditional medicine, oil massages, chants and prayers to help people feel better or overcome problems or diseases.

Sorcery mingled with elements of Catholicism thrives on Siquijor. Many rituals and potions involve the use of lighting teeth, tooth-shaped pieces of basalt that are said to appear at the base of trees struck by lightning. Wooden amulets often have sweet, earthy-smelling herbs mixed with lightning teeth. Gayuma love potions work if you apply it to the forehead of the person you are hoping to woo. Some concoction have more than a hundred herbs. The biggest events are cockfights. During Holy Week tang alap rituals are conducted.

Reporting from Siquijor, Benjamin Haas wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “At the end of a dirt road deep in the mountains, Consolacion Acay hobbled onto her porch and picked up her tools of the trade: a glass cup, a bamboo straw, a stone the size of an apricot pit and a bottle of potion. Then she began casting spells to heal her client. "I found this stone while I was swimming near waterfalls in the middle of the island," the unassuming 86-year-old said later. "That night I had a dream that taught me how to use the stone to heal people, and I've been doing it ever since." Acay dabbed the potion on certain points of her client's body, then half-filled the cup with water, dropped the stone in and began blowing air into the water with the straw. The water became murky — a sign, she said, that she was removing the malaise. She repeated the process until the water was clear. [Source: Benjamin Haas, Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2011 ==]

“Acay's magic doesn't put her on the fringe of society here; sorcery, both for good and evil, is a fact of life in Siquijor. Throughout the Philippines, mention of this place instantly conjures images of healers, witches and demons. One gruesome tale features a vampire that splits in two, its upper torso flying from rooftop to rooftop, devouring fetuses out of pregnant women. Magic in Siquijor consists mainly of traditional beliefs that have existed in the Philippines for centuries. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century and introduced Catholicism, locals began to blend ancient practices with their newfound religion. ==

“Many witches in Siquijor use Catholic imagery in their sorcery, and almost all regularly attend church. All their potions for the year are brewed in the week leading up to Easter. Father Larry Catubig, the senior Catholic priest on the island, said he realized the complicated nature of proselytizing to religiously devout witches. "It's good that the witches are going to church, and we try to steer them away from magic," he said. "But when they go back into the mountains, we have no control over what they do." ==

During Holy Week, vigilance is required at the religious processions because the witches steal parts of the relics on display for use in their potions, Catubig said. It's not unusual for gravestones in Siquijor to have pieces missing — stone angels without heads or perhaps a stump where a cross once stood. Often it's the work of "black witches" looking to enhance their brew. ==

“Although Acay works strictly in healing the sick, other witches here aren't so benevolent. Cayetano Umbalsa, 76, has been practicing witchcraft since his father began teaching him almost 60 years ago. Although he is well-versed in the healing spells, people come to him mainly for his proficiency in the dark arts. Jealous spouses and scorned lovers make up the bulk of such clients. The spells range from one to make your ex-lover constantly remember your face to those to cause sickness and even death. The black witches command steep fees: $345 to almost $700 in a region where the average annual income is about $2,500. The witches who limit their work to healing often ask for a small donation of a few dollars. ==

“Richard Quezon, the mayor of Siquijor town, the capital of the province, remembers being terrified by stories of evil witches in the mountains that rise from the middle of the island. "Before, everyone went to healers for things like liver problems or cancer," he said. "But now, with modern medicine, only those who can't afford to go to the hospital seek out healers." To some, that's a positive development. Evelyn C. Retana, a retired surgeon at the Siquijor town hospital, has seen sick people spend months hoping to be healed by witches only to eventually seek treatment at the hospital. But Quezon defends witchcraft. Last month he went to a witch because of a skin condition that wouldn't go away. "The medicine from the pharmacy didn't work, but the herbs and spells from the healer worked right away," he said. "Some things science can't explain."” ==

Filipino Creation Myths

The Visayan Creation Myth explains how the Sun, the Moon, the islands, and human beings were formed.A long time ago, there were two Gods - Maguayan, ruler of water, and Kaptan, ruler of the sky. One day, the two Gods decided to marry their children. Three sons were born from this union - Likalibutan was extremely brave and strong, Liadlao was made of gold and was always cheerful, and Libulan, made of copper, was timid and weak. Lisuga was the only daughter, she was made of silver and was very beautiful, gentle and sweet. Sadly, they were orphaned at a young age, but their grandparents took care of them and protected them from evil. Eventually, the siblings grew up to be strong and beautiful. [Source: buzzle.com +/+]

One day, Likalibutan, proud of his strength and power, decided to attack Kaptan's sky kingdom. Scared of their brother, Liadlao and Libulan were coerced into joining him and they left for the sky kingdom. An enormous steel gate was blocking their way, but Likalibutan summoned the wind and knocked it down. When Kaptan came to know of this, he got furious and fired them with lightning bolts. A lightning bolt landed on each of the three brothers. Likalibutan's rock-like body fragmented into a thousand pieces and fell down in the sea, Liadlao and Libulan melted into balls of gold and copper, respectively. +/+

Worried for her brothers, Lisuga came searching for them, but Kaptan, still fuming, attacked her as well. Her silver body too, was scattered into a million pieces. Kaptan then called Maguayan, accusing him of planning the whole thing. But Maguayan had been sleeping through the entire ordeal and didn't have the slightest clue. Kaptan eventually calmed down, and both the gods deeply mourned the loss of their grandchildren. Sadly, even with all their powers, they couldn't bring the siblings to life. So, they gave each of them light, except for Likalibutan. Luminous with this light, Liadlao became the Sun, Libulan, the Moon and Lisuga's fragmented body can be seen today as the stars. Kaptan planted a seed on a fragment of Likalibutan's body. A bamboo tree sprouted out of this seed and from this tree, Sikalak, a man and Sikabay, a woman, emerged. This man and woman are the ancestors of all the people in the world. +/+

Philippines Creation Story

According to description written by John Maurice Miller, author of Philippine Folklore Stories (1904), “Thousands of years ago there was no land nor sun nor moon nor 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 Captan. Maguayan had a daughter called Lidagat, the sea, and Captan 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 Licalibutan, Liadlao, and Libulan; and the daughter received the name of Lisuga. [Source: John Maurice Miller, Philippine Folklore Stories (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1904), pp. 57-64]

Licalibutan 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 Licalibutan. The faithful wife Lidagat soon followed her husband, and the children, now grown up, were left without father or mother. However, their grandfathers, Captan and Maguayan, took care of them and guarded them from all evil. After a time, Licalibutan, proud of his power over the winds, resolved to gain more power, and asked his brothers to join him in an attack on Captan in the sky above. At first they refused; but when Licalibutan 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. Then Licalibutan 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 Captan. So terrible did he look that they turned and ran in terror; but Captan, 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 Licalibutan, 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, Captan, blind with anger, struck her too with lightning, and her silver body broke into thousands of pieces.

Captan 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 far down in the sea. After a time he succeeded in calming the angry Captan. Together they wept at the loss of their grandchildren, especially the gentle and beautiful Lisuga; but with all their power they could not restore the dead to life. However, they gave to each body a beautiful light that will shine forever. And so it was that golden Liadlao became the sun, and copper Libulan the moon, while the thousands of pieces of silver Lisuga shine as the stars of heaven. To wicked Licalibutan the gods gave no light, but resolved to make his body support a new race of people. So Captan gave Maguayan a seed, and he planted it on the land, which, as you will remember, was part of Licalibutan's huge body.

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 Sicalac, and the woman was called Sicabay. 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 was a younger son and he had a son called Arion.

Pandaguan 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 Captan, hearing this, struck Pandaguan with a small thunderbolt, 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 all his descendants ever since that day have been black. His first son, Arion, was taken north, but as he had been born before his father's punishment he did not lose his color, and all his people therefore are white. Libo and Saman were carried south, where the hot sun scorched their bodies and caused all their descendants to be of a brown color. A son of Saman and a daughter of Sicalac were carried east, where the land at first was so lacking in food that they were compelled to eat clay. On this account their children and their children's children have always been yellow in color. And so the world came to be made and peopled. The sun and moon shine in the sky, and the beautiful stars light up the night. All over the land, on the body of the envious Licalibutan, the children of' Sicalac and Sicabay have grown great in numbers. May they live forever in peace and brotherly love!

Tagalog Creation Story

The Tagalog are the dominate ethnic group in the Philippines. Summarizing their creation story, Mabel Cook Cole wrote in “Philippine Folk Tales” (1916): “When the world first began there was no land, but only the sea and the sky, and between them was a kite (a bird something like a hawk). One day the bird which had nowhere to light grew tired of flying about, so she stirred up the sea until it threw its waters against the sky. The sky, in order to restrain the sea, showered upon it many islands until it could no longer rise, but ran back and forth. Then the sky ordered the kite to light on one of the islands to build her nest, and to leave the sea and the sky in peace. [Source: pitt.edu/~dash, Mabel Cook Cole, Philippine Folk Tales (Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Company, 1916), pp. 187-188]

Now at this time the land breeze and the sea breeze were married, and they had a child which was a bamboo. One day when this bamboo was floating about on the water, it struck the feet of the kite which was on the beach. The bird, angry that anything should strike it, pecked at the bamboo, and out of one section came a man and from the other a woman. Then the earthquake called on all the birds and fish to see what should be done with these two, and it was decided that they should marry. Many children were born to the couple, and from them came all the different races of people.

After a while the parents grew very tired of having so many idle and useless children around, and they wished to be rid of them, but they knew of no place to send them to. Time went on and the children became so numerous that the parents enjoyed no peace. One day, in desperation, the father seized a stick and began beating them on all sides. This so frightened the children that they fled in different directions, seeking hidden rooms in the house -- some concealed themselves in the walls, some ran outside, while others hid in the fireplace, and several fled to the sea.

Now it happened that those who went into the hidden rooms of the house later became the chiefs of the islands; and those who concealed themselves in the walls became slaves. Those who ran outside were free men; and those who hid in the fireplace became negroes; while those who fled to the sea were gone many years, and when their children came back they were the white people.

Story of Bathala, Malakas and Maganda

Bathala is the supreme God of Tagalogs. In ancient times, Bathala was the caretaker of the Earth, and he often thought of creating living beings. But, the Earth was empty, and so he couldn't create any mortals. One day, Bathala met Ulilang Kaluluwa, another God in the form of a serpent, who lived in the clouds. After fighting for three days and three nights, Ulilang Kaluluwa was defeated and killed. Bathala did not give him a proper burial and instead, burned his body on earth. [Source: buzzle.com +/+]

After a few years, Galang Kaluluwa, a winged God, who loved to travel, wandered into the house of Bathala. Galang Kaluluwa and Bathala got along well and lived happily as good friends for many years. But one day, Galang Kaluluwa suffered from a terrible illness and couldn't recover. He expressed his desire to be buried in the place where Ulilang Kaluluwa was burned. From the grave of these two mighty Gods emerged a tall tree, bearing a big, round nut. The trunk of the tree reminded Bathala of Ulilang Kaluluwa's body, whereas the leaves reminded him of Galang Kaluluwa's feathers. He husked the nut, and was surprised to find that the hard nut was full of sweet water and nourishing meat. Bathala realized then, that he was ready to create the mortals and he made the vegetation, animals and human beings.

Another creation myth is the story of Malakas and Maganda - the Filipino version of Adam and Eve. At one time, there was just the sky, the sea, and a crow flying between them. The crow got tired of flying, but could find no place to sit, and stirred up the sea. When the waters of the sea reached the sky, it threw rocks, to keep it down. These rocks then became the islands of the Philippines. The crow flew down and lived peacefully on one of the islands; when one day a bamboo struck its feet. Hurt and angry, the crow started pecking the bamboo until it split in two - thus Malakas, meaning strong, and Maganda, meaning beautiful, were born. Malakas and Maganda married and had numerous children. One day, fed up with the constant racket of the children, they started beating them up. Terrified, the children fled all over the place, and became the different people living on the Islands.

Legends from the Philippines

The Legend of Makhiya tells us about the origin of the touch-me-not (Mimosa Pudica) plant. Maria, a very shy girl, lived with her parents Mang Dondong and Aling Iska, in a small village. Maria would spend hours tending to her garden, which was renowned for its lovely flowers. One day, bandits raided the village, and fearing for her life, Maria's parents hid her in the garden. While Aling Iska was praying to God for her daughter's safety, the bandits broke into the house and hit them both on the head. After pillaging the house, the bandits fled. When Mang Dondong and Aling Iska regained consciousness, they ran to the garden to look for Maria, but couldn't find her. They searched for her everywhere, and started to despair, when something pricked Mang Dondong's feet. Both of them knelt down to take a better look at the tiny plant closing its leaves. At that moment they realized, that their shy Maria has been transformed by the Gods into the plant. They named the plant Makahiya (Tagalog for shyness) and took immense care of it. [Source: buzzle.com +/+]

The Legend of Sampaloc Lake: Sampolac Lake is the biggest lake in San Pablo, and it is named after a giant tamarind (sampolac) tree. Though there are many different versions of this legend, the basic premise remains the same. There was an orchard owned by a rich couple, filled with the most delicious tamarind trees. One day, a fairy decided to test their hospitality, and came to the orchard, dressed as a poor, old woman. She begged the couple to give her a few fruits as she was very hungry. The selfish couple, instead of helping the woman, let their dogs loose on her. The old woman was bitten by the dogs and badly hurt. She touched a giant tamarind tree and cursed, "Your greed shall be punished". As the woman was walking away, the sky darkened and a ferocious storm broke out. The downpour continued late in the night, the next morning though, the sky was clear and blue. The couple came to tend their orchard and were bewildered to find their entire orchard gone. Instead, there was water everywhere. When they looked down into the water, they could still see their precious trees at the bottom of the lake. +/+

Legend of Mount Mayon Mount Mayon is an active volcano, named after Daragang Magayon, a beautiful girl in this legend. This is a tragic love triangle between Daragang Magayon, her lover Panginorin, and her admirer Pagtuga. Magayon, daughter of the Rawis' tribal chief Makusog, was known for her exquisite beauty and grace. So renowned was she, that suitors from faraway lands came to vie for her hand. One of her admirers was Pagtuga, an arrogant and snobbish hunter. To win her, he would present her with extravagant gifts, but none of them pleased her. Panginorin, the chief of Karilaga, hearing of her beauty, decided to visit the Rawis, just to catch a glimpse of her. When he saw her, he was immediately smitten and courted her with much devotion. Touched by his affection, Magayon too fell in love. Panginorin, then, rammed a spear in front of her house, denoting his intention to marry her, as per the custom. +/+

The wedding was just a few days away, when Pagtuga blackmailed Magayon that if she doesn't marry him, he will kill Makusog, her father. When Panginorin came to know of this, he attacked Pagtuga. The brutal fight ended when Pagtuga was slain by Panginorin. A joyous Magayon rushed to his side, when a stray arrow hit her. Panginorin too, was struck by a spear. Sadness spread over the entire kingdom, and the lovers were placed in a grave and buried. As days past by, people noticed that the land on which Magayon and Panginorin were buried, was slowly rising, forming the Mount Mayon. The legend says that, now Panginorin lives in the clouds and Magayon in the mountain, and when the peak of Mayon is shrouded by clouds, the couple is kissing. The rain that follows this, is said to be the tears of Panginorin. Some days, the ground shakes, and they say, this is the angry Pagtuga trying to take his gifts back from Magayon. +/+

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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