Most Popular Filipino Horror Creatures to Know

Full moon believed to be the time where monsters appear
Full moon believed to be the time where monsters appear | Photo from Unsplash

Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone is looking for the best costumes. Most people want to dress like their favorite superhero or Western creatures. However, let’s not forget that the Philippines has creatures that will make Stephen King’s villains look like fairy tale characters. 

Philippine folklore and legends are rich in supernatural creatures that haunted our ancestors before Spain colonized the country. Over the years, the tales of these Filipino horror creatures have been passed from generation to generation. Alexandra Trese, Pedro Penduko, and other Filipino films and TV shows captured the scary stories and urban legends brought by these creatures. 

These creatures are also the subject of ghost stories when All Saints’ Day is approaching. Here are some of the most popular Filipino mythological creatures to know if you are looking for Halloween costume ideas or want to scare people.

Multo 

Depiction of Multo or Ghost Photo from Abente Tonite
Depiction of Multo or Ghost Photo from Abente Tonite

Multo, in Philippine folklore, is a ghost. Multo is the most popular among the monsters on this list because almost everyone has a spooky horror story involving these creatures. The multo is a person’s soul that haunts the living because they’re too disturbed to go to the afterlife. 

Multo can take different forms. These can range from wisps to the infamous “White Lady (a female ghost with black hair and white dress)” that still haunts people. Some of the most frightening ghostly encounters in the Philippines are the White Lady in Balete Drive, Quezon City, the headless priests found in churches, the screaming souls at the Manila Film Center, and the ghosts in Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City. 

Ghosts in the Philippines can be present anywhere. What’s scarier is that these ghosts can possess people, appear out of nowhere, and not cross the afterlife until their last mission on earth has been fulfilled. 

Aswang 

The manananggal as part of Aswang family Illustration by Brian Valeza
The manananggal as part of Aswang family Illustration by Brian Valeza

Aswangs are shape-shifting mythical creatures in the Philippines. These creatures are like a mix of ghouls, vampires, and witches. Aswangs disguise themselves as humans, dogs, or pigs during the day and transform into their true forms at night. They are ruthless and relentless and constantly desire human flesh and blood.

Aswangs are the most dreaded and scariest monsters in Philippine mythology and are always present in horror stories. If you think that these characteristics are menacing, you should also know that they have Sigbin, a dog like creature, as pets. Sigbins suck the blood out of humans. Aswangs have several types. 

The first type of Aswang is the manananggal. The manananggal is an Aswang that transforms into a lovely woman by day but an Aswang by night. The manananggal can separate its upper body from its lower body to hunt people for their internal organs. Manananggals have bat-like wings for flying. 

Manananggals can be defeated if you put salt or crushed garlic on their lower half to prevent their upper half from combining with it until sunrise. Once the sunlight hits, they will die. 

Tiktik is another type of Aswang that goes over the roof of houses every night. They have an elongated sharp tongue that can pierce through the stomachs of pregnant women. Then, they suck the fresh blood of the unborn child. 

To prevent the tiktik from coming, women should light up some incense before 6 pm. Putting garlic on your door and windows can also help. Generally, any Aswang can be defeated with a single whip of “buntot pagi” (a stingray’s tail). 

Kapre 

Kapre Artwork from Elizer Morcillos
Kapre Artwork from Elizer Morcillos

The Kapre is a gigantic, muscular, known for smoking cigars and hanging out in tree limbs. This huge character usually lives on acacia, mango, bamboo, or balete trees. Some tales tell that they have huge upper lips and humongous teeth. It is not evil. They are mischievous giants that play pranks on people and, sometimes, offer friendship to humans. 

If this hairy creature becomes friends with a human, the human will be able to see it. And when a Kapre falls in love with a woman, this creature will remain loyal to her until it dies but will become possessive towards her. Some legends also tell that the Kapre holds a stone the size of a quail egg. Anyone who gets the stone can have their wishes granted.

Kappes are good creatures that do not hurt people unless their home is cut down. All a Kapre does is smoke, prank people, and make friends. 

Tikbalang 

The Tikbalang Artwork from John Patsakios
The Tikbalang Artwork from John Patsakios

The Tikbalang is a creature with a horse’s head and a human’s body. They are known for their horse-like speed and for getting people lost. Tikbalangs give people hallucinations which will make them lose direction. In other cases, Tikbalangs can make people sleepwalk to different places. 

In some provinces, it is believed that the Tikbalang is the guard of the gateway between the physical and spirit world. Some even say that a Tikbalang will stomp their victims to death whenever they get angry. To counter a Tikbalang’s spell, you should wear your shirt inside out to break it. 

The Tikbalang can be a fierce creature. In some provinces, it is believed to assault women for procreation. However, if you ever get the chance to get even a single strand of a Tikbalang’s mane, the Tikbalang will be subservient to your will. It is also believed that a Tikbalang is getting married if it rains on a sunny day. 

Nuno 

Nuno sa Punso Artwork Art from John Ogalesco
Nuno sa Punso Artwork Art from John Ogalesco

Most people living in the Philippines have heard the phrase “tabi-tabi po” when crossing a forest. The Nuno is believed to live in an anthill or termite mound. This dwarf-like creature is an old man with a long beard. Some people say that Nuno is the spirit of the ancestors. 

The Nuno is a creature that is easily angered. The Nuno will hex a spell to those who damage or destroy its mound. A nuno can cast evil spells on a trespasser’s body part for swelling, vomiting blood, urinating black liquid, and having excessive hair growth on the trespasser’s back. The trespasser should be within range of the Nuno for the nuno to spit on their body. The spit then releases the curse. 

You can kill a Nuno by catching it and crushing its head. However, this is not recommended because the nuno’s friends will hex you again. The best way to treat a nuno’s curse is to go to an albularyo. The albularyo (Filipino shaman) will then remove the spells. Asking for the nuno’s forgiveness is also effective. 

Nunos are not evil. They are protectors of the earth that can sense goodness and evil. If a person is kindhearted, the Nuno is more likely to reveal themselves. 

What do these creatures have in common?

There is nothing wrong with believing in the existence of these creatures. There are more creatures in Philippine folklore. Other creatures include sirena and shokoy (creatures with human bodies and a fish tail), tiyanak (a vampire-like baby), and the Amomongo (a creature that looks like a hairy white ape) among others.

Except for the Aswang, most creatures on this list are spirits that protect their territory or the earth in general. If there is one thing you can learn from these creatures, we should always respect nature and the entities on this earth. Knowing these creatures is a great way to know our ancestors and culture as Filipinos. 

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