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Myths From the Missus

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Last week’s article on traditions/superstitions started me thinking.  It appears that there are readers out there who may want to know more along these lines – particularly more about some of the myths and mythology of the Philippines.  Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas.  I can only relay to you, dear reader, what I have heard and/or learned during my stay in the islands.

As this article’s title says, one source for many of the strange (that’s the “different” kind of strange) stories and characters is “The Missus”:  Baket ko (Asawa ko) [my Wife].  Since she is an Ilocana, most of what I’ve heard has a northern Luzon twang to it.  Hopefully you’ll find the article interesting.  Let’s get right into them:

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DWENDE

According to Micha F. Lindemans (who knows quite a bit more of this subject than I), dwende are  little spirits who are usually helpful and friendly. When they are offended, however, they can cause sickness and even death. They live in houses and occupy themselves by singing, making noise, and throwing sand and pebbles. They sometimes knock over kitchen utensils.

Here in Ilocos, some say that dwende come in two types:  the white dwende or good dwende who spend their time providing friendly help and are a pleasure to have nearby; and the black dwende or evil dwende who spend their time causing mischief and making life difficult.  Who knows for sure?

KAPRE

A Kapre is a big, black hairy creature, similar to a giant.  The Kapre often lies in wait for people as they walk a path, to scare them and cast spells on them.  Often, the spell is one that causes great confusion and results in the victim not knowing just where he is or which direction he/she should go.   Again, from Micha F Lindemans, they are said to be able to move a bed with its occupant from a house onto a tree branch. Kapres enjoy drinking, smoking, and gambling.

A Kapre in Ilocos can be found (if he doesn’t find you first) in forests, living atop large, old trees and smoking large cigars.  The aroma of the cigar smoke is part of the Kapre’s ability to cast a spell.  If one is alone in the forest and smells cigar smoke, it’s best to hightail it out of there.  If you’re stuck in a place and keep going around in circles, then the spell has been cast.  To gain release from the Kapre’s control, you must confuse the Kapre by taking off your shirt or your clothes and wearing it/them inside-out.

ASWANG

According to the Tagalog-English Dictionary by Leo James English, Aswangs “are shape-shifters. 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.”  This appears to be more of a Visayan myth – I’ve heard nothing of Aswang in the Ilocos region other than tall tales meant to scare naughty children.

Allegedly, Aswangs also have a peculiar liking for the fetus of pregnant women.  They find their quarry by the scent of the mother, which to the Aswang smells like ripe jack fruit. 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.  A little on the gross side, but then who knows?

MULTO

Multo is actually the Tagalog word for ghost.  Some superstitious Filipinos believe that some kind of multo – often a spirit of their former kin – regularly visits them.

UNBELIEVEABLY TRUE OR FALSE?

Above are just a very few of the mythological creatures that roam the Philippines.  There are many, many more; and plenty of stories to go with them.  I am positive that you, dear readers, have quite a bit of experience you’d like to share with all of us.

How about it?  Any encounters with dwende?  Or a Multo?  Or, perhaps, a Sirena or a Tiyanak?  Oh, there are plenty of stories to tell!

PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Dirk
Dirk
8 years ago

With my asawa being from capiz, she believes in the aswang, when she was pregnant we were forbidden to say the word aswang for the first 3 months. When I went to visit her in July she was 5 months and noticed something sewed into her dress, it was garlic to help defend her and e unborn child from the aswang. All I could do was laugh. If you want to see a great drama watch TFC they have a drama on call aswang in San Roque. It worth the laugh to watch.

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Dirk

Hi Dirk – Yes, Capiz and surrounding areas truly believe in aswang. Suppose the “tradition” is an explanation for miscarriages, but who really knows? 😀

peterjoy
peterjoy
8 years ago

paul a good post mate i have been waiting for this one mate as i have a story all so that happend to me over there in the php mate the first one happend one night i got up to go down to the loo and i did not put on a light and it was dark but there was a moon light so i can see where i was going and no i had not been drinking lol and there right in frunt off me was a girl she just looked at me and did walk in to the… Read more »

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  peterjoy

Hi Peter – It could have been the “White Lady” who does similar things among the living at night time. Seems that there are various sitings of this ghostly apparition, especially in the provinces. 😉

John Reyes
8 years ago

Paul, a farmer from Salaza told me this story about seeing a lady whom he thought to be my Mom looking out the window of our ancestral house in barrio Salaza (Palauig, Zambales) as he rode past the house on his carabao every morning on his way to the farm. Thinking that the lady was my Mom, he would wave at her, and she would wave back. Problem was, no one lived in the house all year round except when my Mom, who was then retired and living in California, went home for a visit. On the days the farmer… Read more »

John Reyes
8 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

“Following the blessing, the priest told Mom that, while he was sprinkling holy water throughout the house, he definitely felt a heavy presence of something foreign vacating the house.”

As if taking the hint, Mom tipped the Catholic priest heavily, too. LOL

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John – Well, part of the job of “ridding spirits” is keeping The Faithful faithful! I’m happy that any “presence” is no longer at the house. 😉

One never knows – ghost, presence, etc. – almost anything is possible. 🙂

Katrina
Katrina
8 years ago

Here is a very good documentary on the Aswang.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ePhqoyLpXQ

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Katrina

Thanks, Katrina. Very interesting . . . . . 🙂

Cordellero Cowboy
8 years ago

Another good one Paul. I really like learning about the folklore & tradition of different places. My wife is also Illocana, but from Nueva Vizcaya. There are some slight variations in her version, but still much the same.

Take care,
Pete

Paul
8 years ago

Hi Pete – Glad you liked it. Yes, different regions bring out different stories . . . 😉

Scott Fortune
Scott Fortune
8 years ago

Paul, as I sit reading this article, the door to the room I am in creaks slowly open, just a small amount. Enough for a dwende? I don’t know. But my wife says it was a ghost. I like to venture on the side of rationality and say, the furnace kicked in just as the door moved, because the vent is by the door. But, that’s just me! LOL! Superstitions are great, and I believe in some things, as most do in something or another, but most I find a rational reason behind it. On the other hand, I’m not… Read more »

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott Fortune

Thanks, Scott – Multo are frequent visitors when the seasons call for shorter daylight periods. Plenty of sightings in the twilight hours. Who knows, maybe they just enjoy a beautiful sunset! 😆

Stacey
8 years ago

Being a white lady myself, I don’t really endear myself to kids at night.. More then a few have run screaming, and one young niece who I woke up to say hello for the first time was put into some kind of night terror. I’ve learned when visiting friends in the Phils at night not to pop into their kids bedrooms and say hi… lol

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Stacey

Hi Stacey – 😆 😆 😆

Cordellero Cowboy
8 years ago

My wife believes in many of these things, but she isn’t afraid of them. In fact, she likes to have a bit of fun with it. One occasion was during a family reunion at the family farm. We were in an upstairs bedroom, and 2 of her sisters and a toddler nephew were in a bedroom under the stairs. My wife went slowly down the creaky stairs to the CR. She heard her sisters worrying that it was a ghost. She gave the door a push,and the sisters screamed and covered their heads. Our nephew sat up to see what… Read more »

Paul
8 years ago

Hi Pete – Having a little fun with this stuff is fun. I wonder how many of these “traditions” came into being in order to keep children in line? 😆

Cordellero Cowboy
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul

I’ve seen it used to keep children in line. My wife’s sister & brother-in-law often keep their grand kids. When the kids try to wander out of sight, they’ll be warned that the “mu-mu” will get them. I’m told “mu-mu” is a corruption of the Tagalog word, multo. When the family speaks of ghosts among themselves, they use the word al-alia (sp?), which I think is Illocano.

Take care,
Pete

Paul
8 years ago

I feel sorry for the Multo – I can sympathize with them as some of the local children around here are told that if they don’t behave, the big white guy will be angry! Grrrrrr! 😆

Jem
Jem
8 years ago

Somehow I believe in this kind of things, the multo and all. I force myself not to believe because it’s getting scary for me but whether I like it or not, sometimes I can feel them. I can’t see but I feel. I try to ignore it everytime. I’m just really scared. It feels like there is someone, some kind of element and I can’t explain what that is. Just to share, the first time I came to visit a friend’s house in Quezon City here in Manila, i saw this tree in the neighbor’s yard. The tree can be… Read more »

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Jem

Hi Jem – That’s a good story. We have a neighbor with a white fence post that is just the right height and shape to be mistaken for a white lady at night when a car’s lights hit it just right. Needless to say, no children are outside nearby when it gets darks! 😉

Jem
Jem
8 years ago

Another experience I had was in that same house. Upstairs, adjacent to my friend’s bedroom door is the door to the attic. Everytime I pass by that closed door, it feels open, like someone was behind that door. Again, i just ignore it. Oddly, I recently moved to that house. 🙂 so I moved my things in and some of them needed to be stashed away in the attic. So I went up there, inhaled, exhaled, and hurriedly put my stuff. Then I felt it, like someone was trying to push me down the stairs. I ran down as fast… Read more »

Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Jem

Take care in the attic, Jem! One really doesn’t know for sure just what is what! 🙂

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