Author Archives: Janelle Bustamante

The Filipino Duwende

“In Filipino culture there are creatures called Filipino Duwende.  They are supposed to be smaller people; however they are not midgets, but rather normal-looking humans that are just miniature in size.  I’d say they can be compared to elves or leprechauns.  When I last went to the Philippines in 1987 when I was 12 years old, I thought I saw one.  I was pretty sure I saw one. My cousins got mad at me and told me to stop looking outside the window because if I actually did see one it was a bad sign.  Later on, I learned that there are good Duwende and bad Duwende and you have to be careful about which ones you interact with.  Normally the good Duwende help you with finances, but the bad Duwende will want to hurt you.” – Anonymous

Anonymous shared their own cultural folk group legend, the Duwende, and their experience seeing this legend in the Philippines firsthand.  As they were warned to not see and interact with this creature, it culminated a confusing yet exciting experience for a 12-year-old child.

As there are many forms of various folklore traditions, legends can also adhere to those laws.  Knowing that there are similarities between creatures such as the Duwenede and the American belief in elves honing a small appearance and either helpful or disastrous intentions is intriguing.  It reiterates the significance of sharing folklore so that all perspectives can be acknowledged.  

Additionally, it is interesting to delve into the origins of these folkloric creatures and how they came about to be discovered and seen by many individuals, so much so to create an entire belief in their existence.  If there are so many stories about them, then they must be real. 

I also considered that the existence of the Duwende could be something made up that parents have told their children to keep their behavior in check.  As another fellow Filipinx, I have never seen a Duwende, but I have observed the value in Filipino culture in which their children are brought up to high standards.  The Duwende, a form of Mumu (equivalent to monster in Filipino mythology), may be a warning that the energy you give is what you will receive.  So if you misbehave, then the Duwende will harm you, but if you are kind, then the Duwende will serve a helpful purpose to you.  The Duwende then can not only be a mythical creature, but a cautionary form of folklore.

The Ghost at Grandma’s

“When I was little, my grandma befriended her neighbor who was schizophrenic and they became best friends until she passed away.  Then, I was sleeping at my grandma’s house one time and I saw a woman in all white walking around upstairs.  I told my mom about it and she said it was my grandma’s friend.  Ever since she passed away, she never left my grandma’s house.” – Anonymous

As Anonymous experienced this firsthand as a child in their grandma’s house, it was intriguing to hear about their perception and view of a ghost visit, especially one that is recurring.

Anonymous had a neutral stance on their grandma’s friend’s visits and reiterated the neutrality of ghost presences.  Although horror movies and stories may fluff up the bad things, there are rarely stories of the good things that ghosts do and value, which is why the spread of this folklore is very important to share with one another.  The ghost’s friendship with the grandma was one that was unconditional, in life and in death, and it is almost endearing to know that they found comfort in staying in their friend’s house even while battling mental illnesses that make people stray away.  This ghost has never done anything to harm Anonymous or their grandma and instead walks around peacefully.  It is also interesting to know that the ghost decided to stay with their friend rather than in their house which gives peace of mind to new occupants.  This ghost was caring and valued their friendship and it is nice to know that they can be present without causing disarray.

In comparing this to other forms of folklore, I can relate it to a line that is handed down to “not judge a book by its cover”.  As ghosts are always seen in a negative light, it can be insightful to take a step back and view them as normal beings who have needs and values just as humans do.

Consequences of Not Attending a Funeral

“After two of my uncles died, my mom and I stayed home instead of going to the service. At around midnight, my mom started hearing the dog barking and just felt off. I was knocked out, but she had left the lights in the hallway, so she thought it’d be okay. Suddenly, the door handle to the room started rambling super hard and she thought my niño and niña had come home since there had been no one all day. But, as she looked under the door, she noticed there were no feet under the door. So basically this entire time, I was completely knocked out while the door was trying to be slammed open and I wouldn’t wake up.  Then, about a minute after it stopped, I woke up and my mom made me check to see if something was out in the hallway.  I checked and there was no one, but everything felt off and even while checking on my dog, I saw that she had peed all over and was hiding in a corner.  We did not sleep for the rest of the night.” – Anonymous

Anonymous’s memorate was stated from an experience with ghosts from their family.  It relayed the importance of visiting your loved ones and saying your goodbyes to them or else they would come to you to say goodbye. As someone who believes in ghosts, I was intrigued by Anonymous’s story. As Anonymous had a close relationship with their uncles, I believe it was almost a hard thing for both Anonymous and their uncles to process that they were suddenly gone and could not interact in person ever again; therefore, Anonymous did not attend the funeral for fear of awakening those sad emotions and the ghosts of her uncles had visited in order to make their presence known that they will always be there for Anonymous.

Although the occurrence was one of fright,  I believe this experience adds on to the traditional folkloristic look on ghosts and their intentions.  The ghosts of Anonymous’s uncles had never harmed Anonymous, their mother, or their dog.  They simply wanted to be let in or to see them.  As the ghosts recognized the terror they were causing, they even stopped their mission and left them alone.  It can be said that ghosts just want attention and company in this case because death could be lonely and that is why it is important to always visit their graves and wish them proper goodbyes.

Story of Prometheus

“Another story I remember from high school was about Prometheus.  So, Prometheus was a titan. During his time, Earth did not have the element of fire because fire was intended only for the Gods.  One day, Prometheus had given fire to humanity and it caused chaos both on earth and with the Gods.  As punishment, he was forced to push a boulder up a hill and he is stuck doing this task for eternity.” – Anonymous

Anonymous had learned this story from high school through a Latin class that required the teaching of Roman mythology.  These stories were told orally; however, they were given as curriculum to the teachers by way of written commercialized folklore which may affect its authenticity.

As I analyzed Anonymous’ story, I connected it to the bible, especially since it has Roman origins (as someone who attended Roman Catholic schools their whole life).  There could be varying stories of how each element was brought to Earth, but in this case, it was gifted by Prometheus.  I believe his intent was not to start chaos, but to share beauty in what he and the Gods had created.  Just as God in the bible intended to bring life and natural beauty together, but the devil or some other power will always interfere if we are not careful.  As Prometheus is sentenced to punishment for eternity without intent of harm, it could also be reflected with Jesus carrying and dying on the cross for others’ sins.

As the element of fire was a privilege that was not meant for people, but for Gods and titans.  This could resemble something in our time today in how certain powers are only given to certain individuals who are deemed worthy of harnessing that power.  However, abuse of power is always prevalent and can cause extreme chaos as seen in this story with Prometheus.  It had made me recognize the repetition of history and patterns seen in folklore that can come true in modern time and emphasizes the importance of sharing these stories to learn more about our present.

Icarus and His Father

“In high school, I took a Latin class and there they taught us Roman mythology, so one of the stories I remember is the one about Icarus and his dad.  So there was this little boy named Icarus who had the desire to fly.  One day, Icarus made wings of wax with his dad.  When Icarus finally flew with these wings, he ended up flying too close to the sun and since his wings are made of wax, they started melting.  His dad was distraught and already started mourning his son’s death before even trying to help, then Icarus fell to his death, and his dad was just left feeling guilty and depressed.” – Anonymous

As Anonymous was taught this material in a classroom setting, one of my main concerns was the authenticity of this folklore story; however, they were able to retell it sufficiently and pass it on to others orally making it a form of folklore as per the definition utilized in class.  The impact of this story seems to have a deeper meaning and almost a lesson as I started to analyze it in depth.

I started to analyze the symbolism within this story.  As the story’s main character is a little boy, it seems that the lesson is targeted toward younger individuals or individuals to be seen with less power.  The desire to do something beyond them, an achievement that was an indulgence, seemed to be that desire to fly.  With help from an individual who did not even want to help him when his plan succeeded, it then became his downfall, emphasizing the importance of true support and individuals who keep you grounded when certain goals are unrealistic.  Not necessarily saying you shouldn’t reach for them, but maybe smaller steps could be taken or a plan could be organized before rather than going straight into it as growth is not a linear process.  The wings could also be a setback or negative trait as well that individuals will not seek help for and that is why it seemed okay in the beginning, but soon lead to consequences.

I also viewed this story by viewing its connection to Roman mythology and Latin and recognized it may have Catholic or religious influence.  As the Father is the one who gave wings to his son, this could resemble the power of God in giving the gift of life and freedom.  However, how we decide to utilize that gift is in our hands.  As Icarus flew, life was a balance of harmony and bliss; however, his fall was the consequence of misuse of his gift from God.