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Know your ghouls, from aswang to diwata

October 28, 2011 3:33pm
It's trick-or-treat season again, and the stores are filled with black and orange, pumpkins, witches, vampires and other horrors. But we don't have to look far for spooky inspiration this Halloween. Here are ten Pinoy creatures you ought to know:

 
1. Aswang

A pretty generic monster, the term can be used to refer to vampires, shape-shifters, and witches. Specific types include the tik-tik (the sound of wings flapping - treacherously faint when near and loud when far) and wak-wak (winged creature that snatches humans, mangling its prey with its talons).

Looks: By day, aswangs supposedly look like normal people. But at night, they can take the form of animals.

Awesomeness level: A really long tongue (the better to suck out livers and body fluids) and really sharp claws or talons (to leave their victims in pieces).

Angst: Always gets blamed for maternal or child deaths

Favorite food: Body fluids of sick people, the dead, and unborn fetuses

Fight it with: Garlic, stingray's tails, silver swords, salt, ginger, and coins

Bonus real-life lesson: Kids are often told to stay indoors, or the aswang might eat them. Instead, be careful, because "normal" people can do monstrous things.

 
2. Manananggal

Literally a man-eater, the manananggal also falls under the aswang category.

Looks: It is most known for being able to cut its own body in half. The lower torso is left on the ground while the upper torso flies at night with huge bat-like wings.

Awesomeness level: It can be on the ground and in the sky at the same time - while killing you!

Angst: Life is so short.

Favorite food: Hearts of fetuses, blood of sleeping victims.

How to fight it: Salt or garlic on top of the lower torso will destroy it, and left without its other half, the manananggal will die at daybreak.

 
2.1 Wak-wak

*Not as scary as the manananggal, the wak-wak also fly at night, but they can't halve themselves. Instead, they make up for not being able to split in two with their long, sharp nails that Wolverine would like, plus bat-like wings.

 
3. Batibat

Found in Ilocano folklore, this female night demon is more commonly known as Bangungot - which is blamed for deaths occurring during sleep.

Looks: Not great. A Batibat is old and fat, and lives in trees.

Habitat: Trees (before they're cut down).

Awesomeness level: Not too high. It can't be too difficult to kill a sleeping person.

Angst: If the tree is cut, the Batibat lives in a post made out of her tree. And when the displaced Batibat finds a sleeping person nearby, it sits on the victim's chest, suffocating him.

Favorite food: Undetermined, but probably large amounts of anything. Otherwise, how do Batibats get so huge? But what the Batibat eats is the least of your concerns. What you want to do is wake up so you don't suffocate.

How to fight it: Bite your thumb or wiggle your toes -- anything to wake up from the nightmare!

Bonus real-life lesson: Don't cut down trees!

 
4. Kapre

Like the Batibat, the Kapre is a relatively gentle giant who lives in trees and smokes a big tobacco pipe.

Looks: Think Yosi Kadiri, but dark-skinned, with eyes that glow eerily.

Habitat: Big trees

Favorite food: None. The cigar never burns out.

Angst: Not much. Kapres are believed to trick travelers, getting them lost and confusing them by making them go in circles. On the other hand, they are also believed to possess a small stone, which entitles the bearer to a wish.

How to to fight it: Stay away from smoke.

Bonus real-life lesson: Use a map, and bring a friend with a good sense of direction. And seriously, smoking is not good.

 
5. Minokawa

According to a Bagobo tale, the minokawa bird is as large as an island, with eyes like mirrors and feathers sharp as swords.

Looks: Fiercely beautiful.

Awesomeness level: Very high. It's like a dragon, but more fearsome.

Habitat: In the tale retold by Rene Villanueva, the minokawa lives in outer space.

Angst: Dominating the universe. The minokawa has a spectacular appetite - it devours the sun and the moon, and tries to swallow the earth as well.

Favorite food: Celestial bodies. And your planet.

How to fight it: Make lots of noise. According to the story, the Bagobos made such a racket that the minokawa opened his mouth, allowing the moon to escape.

Bonus real-life lesson: It's a much more poetic take on how a solar or lunar eclipse works.

 
6. Sigbin

The sigbin is one creepy bloodsucker. Like most spooks, it comes out at night and can go invisible. As if that isn't spooky enough, it sucks its victim's blood from their shadows.

Looks: Like a goat, except instead of horns it has large ears and a long tail. Oh, and it stinks.

Awesomeness level: On top of its scary looks, sigbin are said to walk backward with its head between its hind legs.

Habitat: Lurks where people are, but if caught, the sigbin is believed to bring good luck to its owners.

Preferences: Children. More specifically, their hearts, which the sigbin likes to turn into amulets.

How to fight it: Catch it and keep it in a jar.

Bonus real-life lesson: The concept of sigbin may have come from animals that resemble the kangaroo, or the Tasmanian devil. Beware of wild animals.

 
7. Tikbalang

Intelligent creatures who confuse humans for fun. Like the Sphinx, they are believed to trick people they meet with riddles to let them pass.

Looks: Long-limbed half-man, half-horse

Awesomeness level: Pretty high. You wouldn't stand a chance against a creature both strong and smart.

Habitat: Swamps, forests, mountains

Angst: Blamed when travelers lose their way.

How to fight it: Wear your shirt inside out

Bonus real-life lesson: Bring a map!

 
8. Tiyanak

Proof that not all babies are cute.

Looks: Deceiving. The tiyanak appears to be a normal baby, and usually lures people with its cries.

Awesomeness level: More awkward than awesome. Imagine: Oh look a poor cuddly wuddly widdle... Noooooooooooo!

Angst: Believed to be unbaptized babies who are transformed into evil spirits that return to eat human beings.

Habitat: The tiyanak is believed to come from Limbo, but when they return to the earth they supposedly live in forests.

How to fight it: Turn your clothes inside out.

Bonus real-life lesson: Don't judge a book by its cover, looks can be deceiving, and other cliches.

 
9. Nuno sa Punso

An angry dwarf who likes to live under the ground.

Habitat: As the name suggests, commonly found in anthills and termite mounds, but can also live under rocks, trees, and even your backyard.

Awesomeness level: Not bad. For creatures you can't even see, they sure get a lot of respect.

Angst: When you live underground, getting your house kicked is inevitable. But this doesn't make it okay. The nuno sa punso is believed to harm anyone who destroys his home. Is blamed for swollen feet and genitals.

How to fight it: It is believed that if you respectfully ask permission before passing by, saying Tabi tabi po, the nuno will oblige. If it is too late, the nuno is believed to be appeased by food or material offerings.

Bonus real-life lesson: Watch your step.

 
10. Diwata

Spirits that guard nature

Looks: Enchantingly beautiful

Angst: They don't like it when humans don't take care of the planet. Can't blame them, either.

Awesomeness level: Pretty high. Now that going green is all the rage, they fit right in.

Habitat: Mountains, forests, water - they're everywhere. Mountains in particular are believed to be guarded by diwatas, perhaps the most famous being Laguna's Maria Makiling.

Bonus real-life lesson: Take care of the environment. Like they say, we've only got one planet. - YA, GMA News

Artwork by Kitt Lapeña