Author Archives: Samantha Borchard

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.

 

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/

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.

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

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.