Boogeyman : Ilonggo version (Scary Monsters from My Childhood)

Just like any other typical Filipino kid, whenever I got home, I hurriedly change my clothes so I can join up with my friends. We would play hide ‘n seek, “patintero”, game of tag, “tumba preso” etc.  My mother used to scold me when I directly join up with my friends with my uniform still on and collect all sorts of stains.

PatinteroTumbang Preso

We were dismissed at school around 3:30pm and usually I arrived at 3:45 or 4 pm. It depends if my “Mamang” ( that’s what I called my grandma, she usually picks me up after school ) would stop by to buy some snacks for me or suddenly meet her friend and gossip about someone. But nevertheless, my house is just few blocks away from school. So usually, we arrive around 3:45 and would play until 5:45pm. Before 6 pm, I should be inside the house. I don’t know if it’s really a custom, but it seems all of us are being told to get in the house before 6 pm. My mom would chase me with a “walis ting-ting” if she sees me still outside before the said time. Not only me, also some of my friends are being scold by their own parents. But of course being we’re just kids, we use to break that rule and meet up and play again. Until, they try to scare me with some scary stories.

The next day afternoon, when I meet up with my friends again. I told them about it. I was surprised that they too know about it. Instantly, I believe them to be true. I was thinking, since lots of people know about it, then it might be true, right? Plus, all of my friends believe them too and they heard a lot more than what my parents told me. Stories about “Tinyente Gimo”, “Doctor Wak wak“, “Kapre” etc etc.

—– The tamawu/taglugar (fairies) are spirits that can be either friendly or evil. They are extremely handsome men or beautiful women. They live in resplendent palaces that look like mere boulders to the human eye. The tamawu are generally benign but can be mischievous. When they find a human being attractive, they entice the person to join them. They are known to kidnap humans, only to return them if the human resist offers to partake of the tamawu food. They write love letters and present you with gifts. They’re very gallant and old-fashioned suitors, actually. Definitely the type you can take home to Mother. Problem is, you’re the only one who can see them. There have been many cases of young, healthy people suddenly coming down with a fever and dying, and when their graves are dug up for whatever reason, it is found that the coffin contains only a banana heart, with no trace of the corpse to be found anywhere. The tamawo has claimed his beloved and whisked her off to his kingdom.

They were known to have different names:

bumalabag – who are known to drive away illness

liktin-laktud – male fairy who viewed and visited places

manupongtupong – a male fairy who dresses like an ordinary human

manla-awla-aw – who looked out from behind an ant hill

manilag-nilag – a female fary who attended social gatherings and festivities

* I believed that some myth creatures like kapre, duwindi, kataw etc are also be considered as tamawo. I believe in a Wiccan sense, the Tamawo are equal to Devas or Nature Spirits. So in case you wonder, tamawo does not exclusively means fairies or elf. 

Here are the list of the creatures I heard when I was a kid. Now if it’s true or not, I can’t say. Don’t you find it weird? I can’t even say that it’s not true? Hehehe.. anyway, here it is:


1. Aswang

         – are often described as a combination of vampire and witch (or warlock) and are almost always female. They can shape-shift, fly (or jump… like spiderman hehe), with a combined strength of 5 men. They have fangs like vampires and a greasy body because of an oil ointment they cover their body with. 

*They are not tamawos. I believe they’re humans with extra abilities gained through the century old knowledge given to them by their ancestors. They are feral. They choose to live on their own cannibalistic ways.. It reminds me of the Wendigo myth of the  Alogonquian people. They are said to gain extra vitality and dexterity through cannibalizing, though I don’t really know of there’s a scientific research to back that up. The shape-shifting thing, is caused by hallucination. I believe the aswangs are good in creating a concoction or poison that may cause people to see them as an animal, though I don’t know how they make them ingest it.

Special Skills:

  • combined stength of 5 men and very agile
  • shape-shift (dogs, cats, bat)
  • fly (they said they can fly)
  • they have a pet called “tiktik”. it’s kind of a bird producing a sound like “tik, tik tik” . They said if you can hear them loudly, the aswang is far but if you can hear it faintly, be prepared it’s just few meters away from you
  • They can convert another person to “aswanghood” through “yanggaw”. It was said that you’ll turn one of them if you ingest their saliva  through the food they prepare or while you were sleeping, they spit on your ears or in your mouth.
  • Salt can hurt them
  • When you happen feel something prowling on the bushes. You have to intimidate them, insult, spit some curses. Your fear fuels them ( kinda reminds me of street dogs).
  • When there’s a kid in your house gone ill and seems to be aswang related, burn some tires. They hate the smell
  • Get some jar of oil made in Holy Week. It serves as a warning device. It was said that it suppose to boil, when there’s an aswang nearby.
  • they can’t get you, if you got a coin with a hole in the middle. Might be referring to a chinese coin.
  • I heard that if you’re drunk, you have a higher chance of surviving or fighting them off than the sober.

How to spot them:
They usually hunt small children or pregnant women. Some people say aswangs are beautiful/handsome when they are in human form but their house stinks like rotten fish.
When you talk to them in broad daylight, they avoid looking directly to your eyes and it gives them discomfort if you do. If you do look directly at them, you’ll see that your reflection in their eyes is upside down.
2. Kapre
     –  a creature/spirit that usually takes a form of a tall demon always near a tree. They’re not entirely described as menacing as aswangs. The Kapre’s height is about 7 – 9 feet, brown, hairy and bearded.  They are normally described smoking a tobacco pipe that creates a pungent odor that would attract humans.  They supposedly dwell on big trees such as acacia, mangoe, bamboo and balete and they were said to be wearing a local loincloth underwear know as a “bahag” that covers only their private parts.
  • they have an ability to transfer a bed with its sleeping occupant onto a tree branch
  • ability to disorient humans and lose their way in the mountains or in the forest.
  • Salt.. I think, they can be hurt by it too
  • Since it was said that they fall in love with humans too and would pursue her throughout her life, maybe you can use that on your favor. I don’t know how exactly, but maybe you can just be creative 😀
  • Human friendship.. They can established friendship.. So like Love, maybe you can use it too for your own advantage.
How to spot them:
You’ll know if you found one when you see a great rustling of tree branches even if the wind is not strong, seeing a lot of smokes on the top of a tree, seeing fiery pair of eyes on the tree at night time and smelling a strong scent that smells like a sulfur.
3. Duwinde/ Kama – Kama
– Goblins, elves, dwarfs: those are their counterparts in other cultures. They are little creatures/sprits who can give good fortune or bring you bad fate. They can be good or mischievous. They love to play pranks by taking your things and laugh at you when you try to find it. They give it back when they feel like it or when you say please. Oh! these creatures have a different set of moral code. So if you ask me, I wouldn’t say “sorry” to them or say “please ” as what others said. I think it would just heighten up the situation. I’m just basing it through my own experiences. So feel free not to heed 😀
Special Skills:
  • can cast a death wish
  • can give you unexplained illness.. making you sweat heavily, laugh, cry and sometimes talk to someone in front of you as if someone’s there
  • they can give you warts that would make you hideous and ugly
  • Arbularyo/Mananambal (witch doctor) call on them right away. They have some sort of charms and incantations to ward them off or to stop the evil intention.
  • It’s not good to flare up the conflict, but if there’s no albularyo around. I believe, Salt can still hurt them.
  • Since they love to laugh and play pranks. What if we turn the table and set a prank on them? I never done it, but I sure love the idea. Eye for an eye 🙂
How to spot them:
  • They usually come out during q2 noon for an hour and at night. It was said they live in houses, trees, mount (ant hill).
  • Hearing faint shrieking laughter
  • Running shadows you can only slightly see through peripheral vision.
4. Sirena, Syokoy, Kataw (Merfolks)
– Sirena is a Philippine version of a mermaid. They’re mythological sea creature with a head and a torso of a female and the tail of a fish. I’ve read somewhere that there’s a male version of it, called “Sireno” (merman) but I’m not sure. I never heard of that one when I was a kid. The male version I know of is called Syokoy. Siyokoy are usually illustrated as green-skinned humanoids that have scaly body coverings, webbed hands and feet, having fins on several parts of their bodies and usually swim along with other intimidating aquatic creatures such as eels, rays, octopus and squids.
They are beautiful and has a very enchanting voice that can attract or hypnotize mortal men. They would sing with enchanting voices while hiding among the rocks by the shore. When the men hear their song they are hypnotized and could abduct them. Some old folk traditions claim that the Sirena carry its victims under the sea and offer them to their water deity. Other stories claim that the Sirena squeezes the life out of drowning men while trying to rescue them. but reports of Sirena grabbing the seemingly hypnotized humans and drowning them or taking them under water may only be isolated cases. Either the tempted human had tried to chase the Sirena deep into the water until he drowned or he had a heart attack upon seeing such an engkanto and plunged literally into the water to his death.
Special Skills:
  • Well, they’re a good swimmer and can breath underwater 😛 And for when you ask if they can only swim in saltwater, there are some stories that they can swim in freshwater too. So whatever kind of water they’re swimming in doesn’t give them any problem.
  • They have an enchanting, melodic voice that can make you helpless.
  • According to others, Kataw is on a higher level hierarchy than the other sea creatures such as Syokoy and Sirena. They can manipulate the weather. It’s said that they’re the reigning rulers of kingdom underwater. Unlike Sirena, they have feet  instead of fish tails but they have gills on their bodies and fins in their arms. According to old foks, they can manipulate and control water-type elements and related forces such as pressure, tides, waves, bubbles and the likes (they can change water to ice)
  • Aside that they have beautiful voice. Lots of the stories saying that they’re stunningly beautiful. So when you meet one, control your “carnal instinct”. It’s not like you can score.. Err.. They have tails from waist down man. 😛 And even if you get creative or something, there’s
    90% chance you’ll be eaten when they’re satisfied. (Alright, I’m not sure about that one but who knows right? :p)
  • Well, they’re fish with a mammary gland (they have breasts right? so :P). So I’m not really sure if we should treat it in one class without compromising it in the other one. But one thing for sure, they need water to survive. So if you happen to catch one, and you want to exact revenge or something. Dry them out in an open space with no water (like a desert), that probably could work 😛 But I think, what we need is to counter attack their offensives not how to torture it, it’s not humane and the torture idea is not really appealing to me.
  • Imagine you’re on a boat floating on the sea. If ever you meet a mermaid, the first sign would be the melodic voices right? Now, how do we counter that one. Let me share to you things I can think of on how to counter their hypnotizing voices.
  1. headphones – so if by chance you got a headphone/earphone with Ipod, laptop, mp3 player or cellphone. try redirect your hearing to other media 😛
  2. singing along with them – If you’re happen to be
  3.  a good singer. try singing with weird successions of octaves. If you’ve watched the movie “the 5th element”, there’s a blue alien singing weird high notes.. try that one! if you’re not really a good singer, just sing your worst, and make it louder.. Maybe the reason they sing, it’s their way of being friendly. They actually waiting for you to sing along with them to acknowledge that friendship. 😛
  4. If you think you can’t really sing even if your life depends on it, you can recite the Preamble or do a rap solo. 😛
  • I still believe in salt XD.. am not really sure though, since they can live in salt water. But still, just to be cautious bring some 😛
  • The Kataw is more tricky. They have abilities like weather control and element fusion thingy. Avoid them at all costs. Use salt or whatever. I think torch would be useless. If things goes out of hand, outwit them. Encourage her to play with you and strike a deal for your life. Am not sure if there’s someone in folklore who have done that but who knows. You can be the first.. Be sure you’re good at whatever game you propose though. Or you can make them fall in love with you. Charm them. I don’t know how you can carry out that. Maybe try some pick up lines related to fishes. Tell her you’re a save the sea advocate. Describe to her the beauty that a jellyfish has. Hahaha.. It’s a modern world, you never know they might be updated on that stuffs. 😛



a human-like fairy which were dark complexioned, curly haired and cross-eyed. They were harmful and malevolent. The murukpuk is heard in bamboo groves.  It is characterized by sounds of breaking bamboo trees as though someone is cutting them; rattling the twigs and leaves as though a strong wind is tearing them even if the atmosphere is calm, and the beating of bamboo stems as though someone is playing with a piece of stick.  The sounds are often heard at noon or in mid-afternoon, especially at three o’clock.  The marukpuk are spirits of the dead which haunt the bamboo groves from which the poles used for carrying the coffin to the cemetery have been cut.


The lulid sa bungsud has a big head, but a small torso and limbs. One who disturbs the mound where it resides falls ill. It was said that it has a head of a pig but has a body of a worm. Some say it looked like a puppy or a piglet. They could live under the abandoned well or anything underground. They were the pets of the fairies.


looked like pigs with long snouts. They were also pets of the engkantos.


another pet of the fairies. They looked like crabs. They lived near the mouth of the river.


said to come out at night to suck the blood of victims from their shadows. It is said to walk backwards with its head lowered between its hind legs, and to have the ability to become invisible to other creatures, especially humans. It resembles a hornless goat, but has very large ears which it can clap like a pair of hands and a long, flexible tail that can be used as a whip. The Sigbin is said to emit a nauseating odor. It is believed to issue forth from its lair during Holy Week, looking for children that it will kill for their hearts, which it fashions into amulets.

According to legend, there are families known as Sigbinan (“those who own Sigbin“) whose members have the power to command these creatures, and are said to keep the Sigbin in jars made of clay. The Aswang are said to keep them as pets, along with another mythical creature, a bird known as the Wak-wak.

*I’ve heard from a friend of mine, who lived as a kid in Bacolod, that there were people actually selling Sigbin in Negros Oriental and somewhere that part of Visayas. I’m not sure if it’s true but he already seen one. There are lots of them.

There is speculation that the legend may be based on sightings of an actual animal species that is rarely seen; based on the description of the Sigbin in popular literature, the animal species might be related to the kangaroo. With the recent discovery in the island of Borneo of the cat-fox, a potential new species of carnivore described as having hind legs that are longer than its front legs, it has been postulated that reported sightings of Sigbin may actually be sightings of a member or relative of the cat-fox species.

Wak Wak/Tiktik

The Wakwak is a vampiric, bird-like creature said to be a witch. It is said to snatch humans at night. The Wakwak is often described by old folks to have long sharp talons and a pair of wings similar to those of a bat. It uses its talons or claws to slash its victims and to get their heart. Many say that its wings are also sharp as a knife. Don’t mistake it as a Manananggal. They don’t cut off their torso so they can fly. Some people think that it’s a person who transform into a bird. Other people contend that a “Wakwak” is a night-bird belonging to a witch.

They have the same MO (modus operandi) with the Tiktik, the only difference is the sound they produced while flapping their wings. They got their names, I guess, by how they sound at night. And the Tiktik has beak like a bird while the Wakwak has none. When you happen to hear something like it in a very faint sound, they’re a few meters away from you or maybe just behind you. But when it’s too loud, they’re just passing by far away.


Dalaketnons are bad engkantos/fairies. They appeared as handsome male and beautiful female. Dress in a fashionable manner and live in mansion to fit in with mortal people. Some believe that the only way to Dalaket, their dwelling place, is by entering the Dalaket trees. These creatures abduct people and take them to their world. They hold a feast for their victims and force them to eat the Black Rice that put them under their spell making them their slaves.

The Dalaketnons were have a normal contact with human but the human didn’t know that they were engkanto. Old folks believed that Dalaketnons can change an ordinary human into creatures like them. They uses a magical black rice to change their victims into a Dalaketnon. It was also believed that they were the mortal enemies of the good engkanto. They were from the royal blood of bad engkantos that served as their ruler. They were associated to be the masters of Aswang, Balbal, Wak wak, Amalanhig, and even Tiktik.


Bal-bal is a monster that steals corpses whether it is in a funeral or grave and feeds on them. It has a strong sense of smell for dead human bodies. It also has claws and teeth sharp enough to rip the clothing of the dead. Since it eats nothing but corpses, it has a foul breath. Once this monster has spotted and eaten the corpse, it will leave the trunk of a banana tree in the coffin creating an illusion of the stolen body to trick people.

Bal-Bal was also associated to Aswang, Amalanhig, and even to Busaw, which were all flesh eaters.


Amalanhig are Aswangs, who failed to transfer their monstrosity causing them to rise from their graves to kill humans by biting their necks. In order to escape from Amanlanhigs, one runs in zigzag direction since they can only walk in straight direction due to the stiffness of their body. One would also climb trees or high platforms enough to be out of their reach. One would also run into lakes and rivers since Amanlanhigs are scared of deep bodies of water.

 few pointers, in case you happen to stumble in any one of these:

First: Recollect yourself. Don’t panic. The more fear you exude, they’ll get stronger.

Second: Power of Deduction. Is that really a paranormal thing. Or there’s a logical explanation. (When there’s a smoke on the top of the tree and a rustling of leaves. Don’t conclude right away that it’s paranormal. The smoke could be just coming from your house’s chimney and your neighbor’s monkey got lose. You can never be sure :P)

Third: Always remember the basics. Salt is the best defense you can use. I checked other practices/rituals on creating a defense barrier. They always mentioned salt. Which actually Filipinos, sometimes, use too. (there’s a tradition here in the Philippines every All Souls Day/All Saints Day. We pray for the souls who passed away and offer food with no salt. I was wondering why, when I was a kid). You can use incense (sandalwood, dragonsblood etc.)

Fourth: Faith to God or Goddess (whatever religion you may have). Faith to oneself. Bear in mind “they don’t have any power over you” . Keep the faith. You can pray if you want to. Have a faith that you can survive it, never falter.

“… Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way…. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great. You have no power over me” (a line from the movie “The Labyrinth”)

Fifth: Understand and Respect. There are lots of things we can’t understand. Respect them as you need to be respected. Understand them. But if they’re kind of testing your limits and already beyond that border. Fight back. Give them a taste of pain.

*So we’re in the end. I guess, these are Phil myth creatures I first heard and researched when I was a kid. If you have any questions or queries you want to share, please say it so in the comment box below. I have a few experiences dealing with some of them. Feel free to believe them or shrug them off. Nevertheless, these are the boogeyman of my childhood. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Boogeyman : Ilonggo version (Scary Monsters from My Childhood)

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