Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Filipino Funeral Rituals & Superstitions

Context:

The informant is a 26-year-old male of Filipino descent. He will be referred to as DY. DY and his family lived in Hawaii for a time, and he currently resides in California. His piece of folklore comes from a memory he had in Hawaii and is described in the main piece in his own words:

Main Piece:

With my family, growing up I had a few family members pass away and I realized as a kid that our grieving process was different. Prior to the funeral we would go through a 9 day prayer process but what stood out to me after all of that is that we would do this ritual where my family would boil guava leaves, water, and vinegar together and the person closest to the deceased would rub this mixture on every member of the family’s face. I asked my mom why we would do that, and my mom told me that it’s because It’s one of the final steps that we need to do in order to help the dead move on or else they will still linger onto this world and attach themselves to anyone who didn’t partake in the ritual. If anyone starts to feel some sort of sickness around the time of these prayers, they would do this thing we called “Ano ano” where my aunt would knock on the forehead of the person feeling sick because it was a sign of the dead trying to hold onto that person. My mom never believed in it because she never felt any kind of dizziness or sickness, but a good chunk of my aunties is superstitious in that way so if you felt any sort of dizziness you had to have it happen to you.

Background:

DY heard the folklore from his mother, but it appears that the folklore is common knowledge among the elders in the family. It’s something passed down to the children to continue the tradition.  DY believes that through spiritual experiences he’s had with the passing of his grandmother, that he believes the rituals have magical properties but that he doesn’t really participate in them so he might not continue the tradition with his own children.

Notes:

The act of these rituals seems to be more than just the action of doing them. These rituals and traditions are important in keeping the family united. It is a social experience that of course, serves a purpose, but it also brings the family closer together. The use of guava leaves in a basin can also be used as a wash when people leave the funeral or cemetery, they rinse their hands in the basin to remove the spirits that may have attached themselves to the living.

 

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Myths
Tales /märchen

Filipino Folklore: The Maligno

Context:

The informant is a Filipino American woman in her late twenties. I asked her if she knew any stories or folklore from either friends or possibly any folklore from her family and her culture. She mentioned her mother knew many stories about spirits and creatures in the Philippines. The main piece is told in her own words:

The Main Piece:

So, my cousin’s friend decided to set up an apartment for drafting for their upcoming architecture firm. Her friend apparently had a sixth sense, looked out the window, saw a tree in the neighbor’s yard, and suddenly left and didn’t want to return. Apparently, she said there was a tree full of Maligno. My mom said it was a bad area.

Background:

The informant knows this piece from her family and folklore from her own culture. She is Filipino and her mother shared these stories with her and her siblings. She states, “My mom told us about this story while we were in the Philippines. We were visiting some of the old houses where my mom and relatives grew up, which were supposedly haunted. One of the houses had some crazy scratches on the wood floors and little footprint markings. The she started talking about folklore and how they could have been made.” She says it’s interesting because the stories explain what happens when certain areas create bad feelings or if someone has a certain ailment, certain creatures in the Philippines are responsible for them.

Notes:

Namaligno is a term used by Filipinos for someone being affected by something magical or supernatural. Maligno are spirits that haunt places or people. They can also disguise themselves as regular people. If the Maligno takes a liking to a certain individual, it can cause harm to them. For example, in the Philippines, when someone comes down with a sickness or ailment, it is because the Maligno is attached to that individual. Filipinos believe that certain diseases can be caused by the intervention of a magical or supernatural entity. This is usually due to a disease, sickness or ailment that cannot be explained or has no apparent cause. An example of this is Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome, a common occurrence in the Philippines. Due to the lack of explanation as to how people die from this, Filipinos will connect the cause to Malignos. It is an interesting concept because we, as humans, always need and explanation for things. The unknown is an unsatisfactory answer for why certain things happen, so to cope with the unexplained, we search for reasons why. This would explain how in many different cultures, there are creatures or spirits that are to blame for unexplained phenomena.

 

 

For another version/story of Maligno, check out: http://phspirits.com/maligno/

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Myths
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Tales /märchen

Philippino Folklore: Pagtatawas, Mantanda sa Punso and Engkantos

Context:

The informant is a Filipino American woman in her late twenties. I asked her if she knew any stories or folklore from either friends or possibly any folklore from her family and her culture. She mentioned her mother knew many stories about spirits and creatures in the Philippines. The main piece is told in her own words:

Main Piece:

My mom said there was a point in her life when she always used to be sick with a fever, after she was newly married. Her aunt said she should go back to her hometown to have a Pagtatawas done. Which is a divination ritual in Filipino Psychology. You would allow heated alum or melted candle wax to drip into a bowl of water to make shapes. Those shapes are interpreted and used to diagnose the affliction or disorder. They thought she stepped on a Matanda sa Punso (they’re like little dwarves or gnomes) or something and was sort of being cursed by one. They called someone who performed these kinds of rituals to figure out what was causing her to get sick, and they started describing a place where my mom started getting sick, but not why. Later, she was at her aunt’s place, who sees a lot of these different creatures. She called my mom over and said she’s being followed by an Engkanto and it followed her there. My mom was told if she wanted it to go away to ask it to leave and stop scaring her. Apparently the Engkanto talked to her aunt and described the place where it started following my mom and it was the place the other person described before. It said it was entertained with my mom. Supposedly they’re male versions of what are fairies in the Philippines and are meant to be malevolent and attractive. Apparently, her aunt would sometimes appear to be randomly talking to seemingly no one. That same day my mom says her aunt was talking to someone and was surprised by what she was being told. She said something to the effect of, “Wow! Is that really true???” She said someone was pregnant, and my mom thought she was talking about her. But she was talking to another aunt who was had already gone through menopause. It turns out, that aunt really was pregnant. She had just thought she was putting on weight.

Background:

While visiting with some relatives in the Philippines, the informant was in the kitchen at the dinner table with her mother and cousins and the conversation about someone her cousin knew, experiencing fevers. The informant’s mother, then shared her story about having experienced fevers as well.

Notes:

According to A Handbook on Filipino Folklore by Mellie Leandicho Lopez, Matanda sa Punso are earth spirits. Parents use them as a way to quiet their crying or whining child claiming that the spirits will be angry because they won’t be able to sleep due to the crying. This is similar to other cultures having some form of spirit that will come for the child if they don’t stop crying or misbehaving. It is interesting how in many cultures, parents will use these spirits to instill fear in their children to get them to behave. Engkantos are much like the Matanda sa Punso in that they are environmental spirits however, they take on a human form. They cause ailments in humans like depression or confusion. They are said to be rather attractive but usually have a flaw, for example, a handsome man but with pointy ears or unusual legs.

Folk Beliefs
Myths
Signs
Tales /märchen

The Owl: A Native American Bad Omen

Context:

My grandmother M is Native American and would often tell me stories about her life on a reservation in Arizona. I asked her about any stories that she carried with her as a child or even in adulthood that relate to her cultural background. She shared this story with me about her experience with an owl.

Main Piece:

The story I remember most is not of her life on reservation however a story that happened to her as an adult. My grandmother once told me that the owl is considered a negative omen in Native American culture. She also told me that she experienced this negative omen first hand and has since hated owls. Molly had seven sons and one of her eldest had purchased a motorcycle. He was in his twenties and was of age to purchase the bike but had never ridden one before. My grandmother told me that one day she had noticed an owl out during the day perched on a tree near her bedroom window. She found this very odd because of the time of day, and because she lived in East Los Angeles where seeing owls would be rare. The owl spoke a name to her, and she was very unsettled. The owl had spoken her son’s name. Her son had been home but was about to leave on his bike to hang out with his friends. My grandmother stopped him and told him to stay home because she had a bad feeling about him leaving. She didn’t tell him about the owl for fear that he wouldn’t believe her and would probably think she was crazy. That night, my uncle was in an accident on his motorcycle and died. To this day, my grandmother regrets having kept the owl from him.

Notes:

Stated by Native-languages.org, many Native American tribes consider the owl an omen of death. Hopi however, consider the owl a symbol of authority and wisdom. It is interesting that my grandmother didn’t look at the owl as a sign of wisdom given that her own tribe sees them that way. Possibly it was a sign of wisdom in that it gave her the warning signs and she was left to her own devices to solve the problem. My grandmother has never shared stories with me regarding anything supernatural. I don’t think that was something that they talked about because I don’t think they believed in it. Given that my father also had an experience regarding the death of my uncle and he is very logical and not easily swayed without proof, I believe there is truth to it.

 

 

For more on Owls in Native American folklore:

http://www.native-languages.org/legends-owl.htm

https://www.owlpages.com/owls/articles.php?a=64&p=2

Legends
Myths

The Girl in the Pink Dress

Context:

While talking with my friend (who will be called D), about general folklore. We began talking about Disney stories and ghost stories came up. D then told me about a familiar story to cast members who work in California Adventure. D is in her early 20’s and works at the Disneyland Resort, specifically within the Hollywood backlot attractions and previously worked the attractions in Bug’s Land until construction began for Marvel Land. Her story take’s place in the Animation building which was next door to Bug’s land until recently.

Main Piece:

Back in the 1970’s when DCA was still the parking lot for Disneyland, there was an accident where a tram ran over a little girl in a pink dress. She haunted Bugs Land but since it’s been demolished for Marvel Land she has moved to the Hollywood area. I heard this story from multiple CM’s who have experienced her presence where she is seen as a shadow walking through the theater alone or calling from the Flik’s phone or Heimlich phone from the now demolished Bug’s Land. I had a personal experience with her as well. It was a Saturday when half of the books in the Beast’s Library broke and they were frozen. We kept capacity down and waited for Maintenance to fix it but they had to call someone from WDI so we waited till the next day. On Sunday morning they tried to reset it and all the books had a blue screen. We blocked off the room and now we had to stand guard to make sure guests didn’t go down there while maintenance and WDI were working. I was with another cast member A, at the time and we were watching a family of four (mom, dad and two little girls with brown hair and shorts) when suddenly A turns and asks me if I saw someone go down to the beast’s library. I said no but I said I would check. When I went down there it was dead silent with blue screens all around in the dark. I came back and told her I didn’t see anyone and asked her to describe what she saw. She said she saw a little blonde girl in a pink dress run down there. I told her there were only these four guests and I was watching them the whole time and neither girls had a dress and they had brown hair. We got scared but nothing else happened.

Background:

There is a lot of terminology used in this piece as the experience happened between coworkers at the Disneyland Resort. DCA is an abbreviation for Disney California Adventure. CM is for Cast Member which is what employees are called at the resort. WDI is an abbreviation for Walt Disney Imagineering which is the company that handles the mechanics of the attractions within the resort. The locations mentioned are Flik’s Flyers, Heimlich’s ChooChoo and Tough to be a Bug theatre which is said to be the haunted attraction within that land. Within the Animation building is the Sorcerer’s Workshop where the Beast’s Library is. The library consists of mechanical books much like computer screens, that guests can interact with.

Notes:

As a cast member who works within the Animation building, I am not a stranger to the stories told by fellow cast members about the little girl with the pink dress. She has been known to jump around the attractions within the area that she was said to have passed away. There was a story recently told to me about a cast member receiving a phone call in the Animation building main office from an attraction in bugs land. This was after everything was demolished in the area. There is nothing left but a flat land of dirt. The description of the little girl never changes and cast members aren’t the only ones who have seen her. Guests have described seeing the little girl as well. These sightings and stories coming from different people and different locations adds to the credibility of the ghost existing.

 

Legends
Myths

Pele, Kamupua and the Pali highway

Context:

The informant is a 28-year-old woman, of Indonesian and Caucasian ethnicity. Her hometown is Honolulu, Hawaii. While in school in Hawaii, she learned about Hawaiian Folklore. This story was told to her by her instructor.

Main Piece:

There are many stories of the Hawaiian Goddess of lava and volcanoes. The most common are of sightings of an old woman walking along the Pali highway. These are spread throughout our communities and in school so it’s difficult to tell you where I heard it first. Everyone says not to bring pork over the Pali because if you do your car will stop till you get rid of it. I learned later in my senior portfolio research in high school, that it was because Pele and Kamupua’a (the pig god) were lovers but they fought constantly. Kamupua’a stayed on one side of the island and Pele on the other. The Pali highway connects these two sides so if you try to bring pork from his side to her’s she’ll stop you.

Notes:

I am not familiar with Hawaiian Folklore, however after doing a little research, Pele which is pronounced peh-leh, is described as the goddess of lava, of fire, lightning, wind, dance and volcanoes. There are many different stories as to how Pele came to be. Most stories include her sister, Namakaokahai either attacking her, or killing her. In one instance, Pele was said to have seduced Namakaokahai’s husband and was sent away by her father. The story of Kamupua and Pele is well known among locals in Hawaii and the stories come from actual happenings of people accidentally taking pork in their vehicles across the Pali highway. This is due to Kamupua calling the Windward side of the Island, home and the leeward side belonging to Pele. Because of their radical relationship, bringing pork across the freeway is bad luck and the vehicle carrying the pork will stop until the pork is removed.

 

 

For more info about Pele and legends about the Pali highway check out these sites:

 

https://www.robertshawaii.com/blog/legend-behind-hawaiis-goddess-fire/

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/7322206/pork-and-pali-are-recipes-for-disaster/

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/33478838/spooky-stories-pork-over-the-pali/

Legends
Myths
Tales /märchen

The Lady in White at La Quinta Resort

Context:

The informant is a 45-year-old man and of Mexican ethnicity. The informant is my uncle on my mother’s side. On a trip to Palm Springs, my parents, uncle and aunt, who is referred to as YV in this piece, stayed at the La Quinta Resort for a weekend. On arrival, my uncle experienced something unusual.

Main Piece:

Okay, so we arrived at La Quinta resort at night. We parked curbside about 30 feet from our cottage. Your mum and dad were already inside. YV and I were unloading our bags from the car and I grabbed my things and was walking slowly towards the cottage looking down to the walkway. When I looked forward, I noticed an image of a woman standing near a tree about 40 ft away. She was wearing all white and she had long, black hair. I looked back to see if YV was looking in the same direction, but she was still getting her things from the car.  I quickly turned to where I had seen this woman, but she had disappeared. A shiver ran down my spine. I didn’t immediately tell YV of what I had just seen because I had a feeling she’d freak out.  Unbeknownst to me, YV later showed me a coffee mug she bought from hotel as a souvenir.  The woman on the mug is the woman I saw that night. Again, I felt that same shiver run down my back.

Background:

This is a personal experience that my uncle witnessed firsthand. Prior to this experience, he had no knowledge of hauntings or stories surrounding the Resort.

Notes:

There are similar stories told by other guests who have stayed at the resort regarding ghosts and hearing ghostly voices. A security guard working one night claimed to have seen a ghostly woman walking across the tennis courts at the hotel. Many stories describe experiences within the hotel rooms and bungalows. My aunt YV, experienced something in her room the same night my uncle saw the ghost woman. YV’s description matches the descriptions that other guests have had as well.

 

For more accounts of ghostly experiences at the La Quinta Resort, check this out:

https://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/la-quinta-resort-and-club/

Customs
Holidays
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posada

Context:

The informant is a 31-year-old Mexican American woman who will be called SA. SA knows of this folklore piece because she participates in it every year with her family. The Main Piece of folklore is told through her own words.

Main Piece:

On Christmas Eve, my family will get together and split into two groups for Posada. Each person in the group has a candle in hand with a protector from falling wax. One group will stand outside the front door of the house, and the other group stands inside the house right behind the front door. The group outside begins to sing the first verse of the song, followed by the group inside that sings the following verse. This pattern continues throughout the entire song, until the end when everyone celebrates that Joseph and Mary have found shelter, and the group outside comes into the house.

Background:

The informant knows of this folklore because she takes part in it every year on Christmas Eve. This was something passed down from elder to elder in the family. It is a part of her religious beliefs as a Catholic. It is a very important part of their culture and their family as it is a tradition that brings the family together.

Notes:

Posada is a Christmas Mexican tradition that revolves around the Catholic religion in which a reenactment is held with family and friends. The reenactment is of the pilgrimage to Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary in search of shelter on Christmas Eve. The reenactment may be different depending on the family and their own traditions. The song that is sung, is often sung in Spanish. The Lyrics are as follows:

En el nombre del cielo, os pido posada, pues no puede andar, mi esposa amada.

Aquí no es meson, sigan adelante, yo no puedo abrir, no sea algún tunante.

No seas inhumano, tenos caridad, que el Dios de los cielos, te lo premiará.

Ya se pueden ir, y no molestar, porque si me enfado, los voy a apalear.

Venimos rendidos, desde Nazaret, yo soy carpintero, de nombre José.

No me importa el nombre, déjenme dormir, pues ya les digo, que no hemos de abrir.

Posada te pide, amado casero, por sólo una noche, la Reina del Cielo.

Pues si es una Reina, quien lo solicita, ¿Cómo es que de noche, anda tan solita?

Mi esposa es María. es Reina del Cielo, y madre va a ser, del Divino Verbo.

¿Eres tu José? ¿Tu esposa es María? Entren, peregrinos, no los conocía.

Dios pague señores, vuestra caridad, y que os colme el cielo, de felicidad.

Dichosa la casa, que abriga este día, a la Virgen Pura, la hermosa María.

Everyone enters:

Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos, reciban este rincón, no de esta pobre morada, sino de mi corazón.

Esta noche es de alegría, de gusto y de regocijo, porque hospedaremos aquí, a la Madre de Dios Hijo.

 

English Translation:

Pray give us lodging, dear sir, in the name of heaven. All day since morning to travel we’ve given. Mary, my wife, is expecting a child. She must have shelter tonight. Let us in, let us in!

You cannot stop here, I won’t make my house an inn. I do not trust you, your story is thin. You two might rob me and then run away. Find somewhere else you can stay. Go away, go away!

Please show us pity, your heart cannot be so hard. Look at poor Mary, so worn and so tired. We are most poor, but I’ll pay what I can. God will reward you, good man. Let us in, let us in!

You try my patience. I’m tired and must get some rest. I’ve told you nicely, but still you insist. If you don’t go and stop bothering me, I’ll fix you, I guarantee. Go away, go away!

Sir, I must tell you my wife is the queen of heaven, chosen by God to deliver his Son. Jesus is coming to earth on this eve. (Oh heaven, make him believe!) Let us in, let us in!

Joseph, dear Joseph, oh how could I be so blind? Not to know you and the virgin so fine! Enter, blest pilgrims, my house is your own. Praise be to God on his throne! Please come in, please come in!

Everyone enters:

Enter, enter, holy pilgrims, holy pilgrims. Welcome to my humble home. Though ‘tis little I can offer, all I have please call your own.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Myths
Protection
Tales /märchen

The Fair Folk

Context:

The informant is a 35-year-old Caucasian male of Irish and Polish descent. He will be referred to as DB. The Folklore piece came to him from his father’s side of the family which is his Irish side. The story was shared by his grandmother and is told in his own words:

Main Piece:

The Fair Folk (or Fae) were fairytale creatures that lived “under” Ireland in what was known as a Faery Raft. They loved humans, loved tricking them, and loved marrying them or trapping them. If you fell asleep, you could be lulled into the Faery raft. You NEVER ate or drank in the presence of the Fae. If you ate or drank anything from the Raft, you were trapped there for 100 years. Little kids were usually taken because the fae loved them and loved raising them in the raft, and then letting them go hundreds of years later when they got tired of them as children. They also loved wagers, and could be tricked out of things like magic, gold (leprechauns), and favors if you could best them at things. They loved riddles, they were the reason you would lose mittens or socks or your favorite things, and they were most active under a full moon.

Background:

DB was told this story of the Fair Folk by his grandmother who enjoyed telling him these stories when he was a kid. DB finds the story important because he isn’t connected to his Irish roots and this story is a way to stay connected to them as well as to his grandmother. He doesn’t believe in the Fair Folk however, but he feels the tradition of passing on the story is important, and he believes in that.

Notes:

The story of the Fair Folk seems to be a tale told by parents to their children. Like many other creatures in stories shared from other countries, these fairies are known to be tricky or mischievous. The story seems to be a warning to protect themselves from their tricks. They also serve a purpose as an explanation for missing things. When something in one’s home goes missing, this is a way to explain why. People need to have an explanation for things to put them at ease. When something cannot be explained, it creates more questions, so it seems like these creatures are made to explain what can’t be. Talismans made from steel or iron are used to protect against fairies and their negative magic as they are unable to touch or be near these metals.

 

 

Customs
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Wedding Traditions

Context:

The informant is a 29-year-old Caucasian female who will be called JH. She is of Irish and English descent and knows of this folklore from her family, more specifically her grandparents. This folklore piece is told in her words:

Main Piece:

My Paternal Grandparents used to tell us that it was tradition on our wedding day for proper young ladies to have a few things:

– Something Old: Usually a piece of jewelry from a mother/grandmother/future mother-in-law. You were connected via sentiment and would carry that into your new marriage.

– Something New: Usually a gift of some sort from the groom or his family to show that the wife was considered precious to them.

– Something Borrowed: Sometimes a veil from a family member, or a trinket they wore or used in their wedding.

– Something Blue: Usually we learned it was forget-me-nots, sweet blue flowers to never forget your family, or the new love and joy you would receive from your wedding day. We also learned it could be a blue handkerchief, to hide the blue of tears (sad or happy).

And a sixpence in your shoe: By walking into your new life with wealth in your foot, you would always have money when you needed it for a prosperous life.

 

Background:

JH learned about this folklore when she was younger and had attended a wedding with her family. JH is not currently married but when she does get married, she will continue this tradition.

Notes:

This tradition derives from an Old English rhyme, which goes, “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” The meaning of something old is meant to ward off the “evil eye” and protect the newly weds and their future children. It can also represent continuity. Something new expresses optimism for the future so that the new couple can have good luck for their future life together. Something borrowed is a way for the couple to share in the luck given to them from the item that it borrowed and from that person/persons. The contemporary belief is to have something that honors a loved one that the item came from.  Something blue is also another way to ward of evil or mean spirits. And the sixpence is for future prosperity and good fortune in the couple’s life together. This tradition wasn’t something my family did however, for my wedding, my mother-in-law gave me trinkets that fulfilled every part of the tradition. I may continue this tradition with my children as I appreciated the gesture made by my mother-in-law.

 

For more information on this tradition, check out:

https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-traditions-the-meaning-of-something-old

 

 

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