Tag Archives: Filipino legends

Nuno sa punso

Text: Nuno sa Punso

My informant is a friend of my family. 

Context: This creature is a small mythical creature that lives in the mounds. It is a dwarf (or dwende in the Philippines) creature that curses people who enters its home or forbidden areas. Usually people say that they live in anthills.

She said she first heard it during the time we first wandered around outside the house, or any unfamiliar older looking places. She believes in it’s message that you have to respect the old mounds or old places where you think the “Nuno sa Punso” lives. And you have to say “Tabi Tabi po” and repeat it 3x. It means “can I politely pass through your place”. It will protect you from them being angry and cause you to have bad luck, and sometimes cause you to get sick. She states that it’s relevant because the story has been passed down for generations. It also teach a good moral value of being respectful for the places and beings around you. Some people still think it’s real, especially in the province. The Philippines has a lot of old forest and mounds. So every time people from the city wandered around the place the locals usually educate them to pay respect to the inhabitants of the forest. Sometimes they have to do rituals and offerings for protection and safe passage of the travelers.


Analyzing “Nuno sa punso”, this story comes across as a legend. The main drive of this story is of the creature that brings fear onto people who visit places they should not be in. The overall message of this story is to respect places you go to, as stated by my informant.

Though this message can hold to any place or anything because you should respect the places you go to regardless of whether they are sacred or not. The creature’s punishments show a consequence which is a punishment to people who go and do what they are told not to do. I think that this legend makes people become more wary of places but also more self aware. Doing bad things can lead to bad consequences.

I think this story circles back to how Filipinos deeply value respect to the elderly and respect in general. A lot of cautionary stories attached to creatures have to do with avoidance of bad actions. Filipinos deeply value their home in the Philippines, and this creature embodies that sentiment.

The Aswang/Tik Tik


My informant is a member of my family.

My informant said that the Aswang and the Tik Tik are stories about evil entities that live in the provinces in the Philippines. They are very rare that these stories of these entities are in Manila.

But her neighbors around would always talk about the aswang and the tik tik especially when there’s a pregnant woman in the neighborhood. Neighbors would speculate that this person or somebody in the household is pregnant because they saw the Tiktik/aswang lurking on the rooftop. Though they are similar because they can be both seen as Filipino vampires. The difference between them mostly come from the noise that the tik tik makes, which is the same as its name.

She said that when she was pregnant she would always kept a scissors under her pillow. “Because I wasn’t sure if l dreamt of it or if it was real, but I had a feeling that there was a tik tik Outside my window. The tik tik goes on the rooftop and is able to know if someone is pregnant or not. They will open their mouth and let their ling tongue penetrate the roofing until they reach the pregnant belly of the mom and eat/suck the baby out”. Which is why she is told to keep a pair of scissors with her during the night.

She believes these are stories that has been passed down to generations and probably a reminder that we are not alone in this world and that dark entities really exist. It’s relevant because somehow these stories are unique to certain provinces/places in the Philippines and somehow represents culture. Finally, she said that lot of people think it’s real. It would even sometimes be reported in the news if a sighting was witnessed. But there is no actual scientific evidence or photographic evidence or videos.


The tik tik and the aswang are a part of Filipino mythological folklore. But these creatures can be categorized as cryptids.

Filipino vampires, such as the Aswang and the Tik Tik are deceiving creatures. Although my informant does not mention it, these creatures could take the form of animals and even beautiful women. They are widely accepted as female creatures. But with the added context, this story serves as a cautionary tale for those that are vulnerable. Since the Philippines has a lot of provinces and poorer areas, the fear of these vampires is heightened. As they live among smaller communities and prey on pregnant women. The type of tale seems to subvert from the expectation because the tik tik and the aswang are gendered as women that prey on other women. It may be a message directed to women that their fear should not focus on predatory men, but that women or anyone can hurt them.

My informant’s experience with the fear of the aswang and the tik tik comes from being pregnant herself. Pregnant women may naturally fear any harm or danger that could come after their babies and their health. And the fear that a scary monster will hurt them is an extension to this natural motherly fear.

The Aswang

Context: X is a 20 year old Filipino American college student who spent the first seven years of childhood living in the Philippines, before moving with his close family to California. The piece was collected over an audio call. 

Intv: “Can you think of any, like, ghost stories, or urban legends from the Philippines?”

X: “Probably the most famous one is the aswang, typically depicted as a vampire but can also be a ghoul/were-beast or something of the sort and like to kill and devour humans dead or alive. Can also be a witch but that’s not as common. Their strength is severely reduced during daytime/in sunlight so we tend to fill our wakes/funerals with candles and leave some on the grave after to protect the wake/corpse from being attacked. They are a very varied monster because of how varied the cultures of the 3 main islands and even the tinier islands inside of them are, but the most common one is basically bat-like ghouls/vampires”

Intv: “Where specifically in the Philippines were you told about the aswang?”

X: “So my (dad’s) family that told me most of the folklore lived in the very southern tip of the Province of Pangasinan (used to be in north Zambales before territory changes) in a village/town named Nayom and we primarily saw them as ghoul-bat creatures that range from monstrous looking to almost humanoid not really a definite one shape (not too sure if this is the only thing my family thought but that’s what they told me as a kid). Filipino media typically depict them as ghoul-bat vampires still but some of them could transform to look just like a really pale human.”

Analysis: I find it interesting how all across the Philippines they have many different stories of the aswang, going so far as to have the aswang often being viewed as different things across different cultures. The friend that I interviewed also informed me that he believes that it’s known as a man/bat creature where he’s from because of the golden crowned flying fox bat, which is native to the Philippines and X argues the tale of the aswang comes from before our knowledge of the bat as a species and therefore has been misidentified in the past.


The interlocutor (JP) is the mother of the interviewer (INT). She and her family grew up in Bacolod, Philippines, and lived there up until she moved to Los Angeles in her twenties.

DESCRIPTION: (told in person)
(JP): “The manananggal is this mythical creature that separates from their lower body. She usually has fangs and wings, like um… a vampire witch, and she likes to hunt for her victims at night.

Most of her victims are pregnant people since she can such the blood or heart out of the fetuses, or, um…. or even the mother, but she also will attack newlyweds and abandoned grooms. A lot of people who fear the manananggal will put out salt, holy water, or garlic to keep her away from their home. She also doesn’t like the sun, I think.

Some people say that since the manananggal leaves her severed legs just standing in the middle of the forest… if you see the legs, you should sprinkle salt or ashes or even put garlic where the body is supposed to meet. And they say that…if you do that, you will kill her.”

There’s a lot of similarities between the manananggal and other monsters and legendary figures we’ve studied, such as the Balkan vampire. While there may not be a distinct cultural connection, it’s definitely interesting how different cultures can come up with similar mythical creatures that are meant to scare people. It definitely reflects the cultural fears people have. In this case, based on the fact that the manananggal is represented as a woman with the ability to suck blood or eat fetus hearts, I believe the manananggal could possibly reflect a fear of miscarriages or other issues regarding childbirth, as well as divorce or young relationships being ruined.

Philippino Folklore: Pagtatawas, Mantanda sa Punso and Engkantos


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.


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.


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.