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Module 2 - Philippine Mythology
• Identify the different gods and goddesses of Philippine mythology.
• Correlate the traits of heroes, gods and goddesses to Filipinos in real life. •
Evaluate literary texts discussed.
• Express critical insights about the characters and events in Philippine Mythology.
Background on Philippine Mythology
Filipinos are known for being superstitious since several decades ago. There are people—whether behind a
religious belief or traditional thinking—who believe in superstitions. While superstitions usually lack logical
explanation or scientific ground, it doesn’t change the fact that a number of us still slightly recoil when a black
cat crosses our path. And we certainly do avoid walking under a ladder.
An example of this will be the Kumakatok – Most of this superstition has declined since after World
War II, however, the Kumakatok is a group of three hooded figures, one young woman and the other
two old men. These figures are usually omens of death, the eldest member of the family dying after
they show their presence. The Kumakatok knocks on their victims’ doors. For people to prevent this
passing, residents usually painted white crosses on their doors, and the trio usually avoid those
houses. The Trickster – In Visayan, he’s known as Juan Pusong. In Tagalog/Pampangan, he’s Juan
Usong/Osong. In any case, he is widely known as the trickster, a deceitful and dishonest man who
deceives and swindles people. Though rarely doing anything for evil purposes, he does have the
propensity to hoodwink unsuspecting people.
Philippines mythology contains the same elements found in most other myths: creation, monsters,
and beliefs. Though the Philippines is largely—if not wholly—Westernized and Christianized, there
are still superstitions that most Filipinos and Filipinas have not relinquished. Certainly, most of the
monsters are still used as fairy tale fodder to scare the children (and in some cases, to make adults
wary of their surroundings).
Because of the numerous amounts of islands, the Philippines consist of diverse myths from each
Activity 1
Try to recall how you grew up as a child. Share in brief your families’ beliefs and the superstitious
ones. You may include tales from your Lolo and Lola or even your Inay and Itay.
Filipino Creation Myth
Storytelling is one of the oldest arts of man. It’s common to all civilizations. The earliest known stories
were Egyptian and dated from 4,000 B.C. There are a lot of collections of stories from all countries.
One type of stories is the myth. It’s a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or
hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that
is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
While the ancient Filipino creation myth is the widely acknowledged version of the world’s creation,
there are still other versions from different dialects. Take for example this Mindanao creation myth.
In Mindanao, the moon and the stars were the result of a single spinster woman. In the days when
the sky was so close to the ground, a spinster woman came out of her home to pound rice. Rice is
pounded by taking a mortar and smashing the bundle of grains on top of a hide placed on the
ground. Before the spinster began her work, she unhooked her glittering beads from her neck and
untangled her crescent comb from her hair. She hung these on the sky and began to pound. Each
time she raised her mortar up, however, the end of the mortar hit the sky, which recoiled upwards.
It came to the point where the sky floated up so high that the spinster’s possessions were lost to
her. At night, we can still all see it: the crescent comb-shaped moon and the glittering bead-like
stars are still shining in the night sky.
Activity 2
In 3-5 sentences, tell us how you believe the world was formed. You may cite stories from elders that
you heard or the one you constantly thought of when you were young.
Philippine Myth Deities
In time, the gods and goddesses’ roles, names, and myths changed to better fit a more Spanish and Christian
influence. Because of the Spaniard settlements on the islands of the Philippines, missionaries of the time have
worked to assimilate the idea of Bathala and the major gods into a monotheistic principle, with saints as the
lesser divinities. The missionaries may have been successful, but even then, some of the Filipino culture is
steeped with allusions to the gods and goddesses of old.
Listed below are the major Pantheon gods and goddesses. This may or may not include the Diwata, who were
believed to have been gods in ancient times. Now, the term “diwata” refers to mythical creatures akin to fairies
and nymphs (and in some cases, demons), but we’ll get to that in a later lesson.
Bathala, or Bathalang Maykapal (or any other spelling variations), is the head honcho of the gods in the
Tagalog myths. There are definitely counterparts in the other dialects, and you might recognize him as
Captan/Kaptan from the Visayan creation myth. Bathala reigns supreme in the heavens, though his
beginnings were not necessarily so set.
In his story, Bathala was more known to have ruled over the barren Earth, while two other gods (brothers,
perhaps)—Ulilang Kaluluwa (a snake living in the clouds) and Galang Kaluluwa (the winged wanderer)—
ruled the skies. None of the three knew each other, and when Ulilang met with Bathala, tempers ran high.
In a violent duel, Bathala emerged as the victor, and Ulilang was killed, giving Bathala control of the
heavens. Galang, the more good-natured of the sky rulers, became Bathala’s best friend, and after the sky
wanderer’s illness—leading to an ultimate death—Bathala ruled supreme. The god is known to have
married a mortal woman, and from her sprang three of his powerful offspring: Apolaki (God of War and
Guardian of the Sun), Mayari (Goddess of the Moon), and Tala (Goddess of the Stars).
Apolaki and Mayari
Apolaki is also known as Adlaw (remember Liadlaw?), and he holds dominion over the sun. His sister,
Mayari (whose Visayan equivalent is Bulan), rules over the moon, and is known to be the most beautiful
goddess in Bathala’s kingdom. According to one myth (generally believed to be Pampangan), when
Bathala passed away, he did not designate the Earth to any of his children. Apolaki and Mayari both
fought over the Earth’s dominion; the sun god wanted to be the sole ruler, but the goddess of the moon
wanted an equal share. This resulted in a ferocious battle, Apolaki taking out one of his sister’s eyes.
Regretting his actions, he conceded and ruled the earth with Mayari, only they would rule at different
times. In the day, it was Apolaki’s moment, and at night, Mayari shone in the sky (though her luminescence
is dimmer, due to the loss of one eye).
Not much is said about Tala as the daughter of Bathala, only that she ruled the stars (and is usually referred
to as the “evening and morning star”). There are, however, varied accounts of her origination. One myth
tells us that she is not the daughter of Bathala, but in fact the child of moon goddess Buan (probably a
variation of “Bulan”). It is said that Tala warns her mother of sun god Arao’s (Adlaw) rampage, and only
when the sun is gone is it safe for Buan to bring forth the stars in the sky.
The bird of legend is said to be the first creature inhabiting the universe, and has been linked to the saving
of Earth’s first humans: Malakas (“strong”) and Maganda (“beautiful”). While this name is particularly
not used in the Tagalog creation myth about the bird who stirred up the waters and the heavens, I believe
there may be a correlation.
Filipino Deities Encyclopedia
Tagalog Gods
• Aman Sinaya - god of the sea, fishing, and seafaring
• Amanikable - god of the hunt, the protector of huntsmen
• Anitun Tabu - goddess of the wind and the rain, generally fickle-minded
• Apolake - god of the sun, lord of war, son of Bathala, patron of warriors
• Bathala - king of the gods, ruler of the heavens, creator of humanity, father of Apolake, Mayari, and Tala •
Dian Masalanta - goddess of love, pregnancy, childbirth, became known as "Maria Makiling" post-Spanish
arrival, protector of lovers
• Hanan - god of the morning
• Hayo - god of the sea and the ocean
• Hukloban - goddess of death, "huklob" means "enchantment", normally in the appearance of a crone or hag,
one of Sitan's helper
• Idianale - goddess of good deeds and hard work, might also be the goddess of death (most claim her identity
to Hukloban), also said to be goddess of agriculture and animal husbandry
• Lakambuwi - god of gluttony, food, and eating
• Lakapati - deity of fertility and cultivated fields, protector of crops and farm animals, also known as
"Ikapati" or "Lakanpati," thought to be Bathala's queen consort
• Linga - god of disease, although unlike Manggagaway, he cures them
• Malyari - god of strength and bravery, his pride and selfishness resulted in punishment: he was trapped
between two mountains crushing him
• Manggagaway - goddess of disease, poses as a healer and inflicts terror by inducing maladies instead, one
of Sitan's helper
• Mangkukulam - god of fire (not to be confused by the sun), name means "witch" •
Manisalat - god of broken families, usually causes discord between husband and wife •
Mayari - one-eyed, beautiful goddess and ruler of the moon, daughter of Bathala • Sitan god of the afterlife, guardian of the realm of the spirits, has four follower gods • Tala goddess of the stars, daughter of Bathala, usually the "morning and evening star"
Visayan Gods
• Alunsina - virgin goddess of the eastern skies
• Bangun Bangun - god of time and cosmic movements
• Bulalakaw - bird god, causer of illness
• Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan - goddess of greediness
• Dalikamata - the many-eyed goddess, cures eye illnesses
• Kan-Laon - the southern supreme ruler, counterpart Bathala
• Kaptan - supreme ruler of the gods, counterpart Bathala
• Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan - god of rivers
• Lalahon - goddess of harvest, fire, and volcanoes, sends armies of fleas to destroy crops when angered
• Lisbusawen - god of souls
• Lubay-Lubyok Hanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan - goddess of the night breeze
• Luyong Baybay - goddess of the tides
• Magdang Diriinin - god of lakes
• Maguayan - goddess of the sea, wife of Kaptan
• Maguayen - ferryboat god, ferries souls to hell
• Maklium sa Tiwan - god of the valleys and plains
• Maklium sa Tubig - god of the sea
• Munsad Buralakaw - god of politics and affairs of men
• Pahulangkug - god of seasons
• Paiburong - god of the middle world (not Middle-Earth…)
• Panlinugun - ruler of the underworld, god of earthquakes
• Ribung Linti - god of lightning and thunder
• Santonilyo - god of graces
• Saraganka Bagyo - god of storms
• Saragnayan - god of darkness
• Suimuran and Suiguinarugan - gods of hell, the final destination for all deceased souls
• Suklang Malayon - goddess of homeliness, sister of Alunsina
• Sumalongson - god of the rivers and the sea
• Sumpoy - god of the afterlife
• Tungkung Langit - upper world and supreme god, counterpart Bathala
• Varangao - god of rainbows
• Ynaguinid and Macanduc - gods of war, battle
Bicolano Gods
• Aswang - god of evil (not to be confused with the Aswang monsters), brother and enemy of Gugurang •
Bakunawa - in origin, dragon/sea serpent, "Moon eater," enemy of Haliya, also surfaces in Tagalog myths •
Gugurang - supreme god, keeper of sacred fire atop the regional mountain, enemy of Aswang • Haliya protector of women and goddess of the moon, believed to be the only one protecting women from
Bakunawa, goddess of the moon
• Nagined, Arapayan, Makbarubak - the "trinity deities," inflictors of pain and death • Oryol - serpent
goddess, Aswang's daughter, shapeshifter with an enchanting voice, controls an invisible giant
Monsters and Creatures
• Alan - deformed spirits with wings, takes the blood from miscarriages and transforms it into human child •
Amalanhig - Aswang that rises from the dead and feeds upon humans by biting their necks • Amomongo hairy, man-sized ape with long nails, a wild monkey-man that terrorizes solitary villages • Anggitay - halffemale, half-horse, also has a horn like that of a unicorn, comes when it rains in a cloudless sky
• Aswang - demons, humanlike by day and monsters at night
• Bal-Bal - monster that steals corpses from its grave, foul breath, associated with Aswang • Batibat - takes
form of an old, fat woman residing in trees, and is very vengeful, most punishments include suffocation
• Berbalang - ghoul, resembling vampires with wings and slanted eyes, dig up graves to eat corpses •
Berberoka - swamp creature that lures victims by sucking water in pond to pool fish together, attracting
fishermen, who then drown in the process
• Bungisnigs - one-eyed giant who is always laughing, is strong, but dim-witted
• Busaw - ghoul and corpse thief, usually resembling humans, but is ogre-like at night • Dalaketnon beautiful elitists, said to control the Aswang, and are powerful and evil spirits • Diwata/Engkantada mostly females, or fairies, also believed to be gods (the Marias) • Duwende - dwarves, mischievous little
creatures who can shower good or bad luck • Ekek - human, bird-like creatures flying in the night sky in
search for flesh and blood • Engkato - environmental spirits with ability to take on human form, forest
spirits or elves • Hantu demon - evil spirit or demon, notorious for possessing people and driving them to
insanity (many types of hantu)
• Higante - the Philippine equivalent of the giant
• Kapre - big, filthy creature that hides within large trees, scaring little children playing at night • Kataw higher-ranked merman, reigning rulers of the oceans and has ability to manipulate water • Mambabarang wicked witch who uses insects and any material to enter the body of anyone they hate and come out
• Manananggal - Aswang who flies and carries only half its body, bodies are cut in half at night • Manaul mythical king who turned into a bird (sometimes believed to be the very bird who caused the seas and skies
to fight, forming the islands)
• Mangkukulam/Bruha - witches that cast evil spells
• Minokawa - large bird, said to feed on the moon where there are no other sources of food around • Nuno
sa Punso - angry male goblins inflicting harsh punishments to those who offend them • Pugot shapeshifting creature, usually that of a black, gigantic headless being, can move at great speeds, feeds on
snakes and insects, usually harmless to humans
• Sarangay - half-human, half-bull, with a jewel attached to ears, will kill if jewel is stolen
• Sarimanok - magical mythical bird who brings good luck to anyone who catches it •
Sigbin - looks like a hornless goat, said to suck blood out of its victims from shadows •
Sirena - mermaid, sea creatures with fish tails who attract fishermen
• Siyokoy - sea creatures with fish-like bodies and long, green tentacles that drown mortals
• Tigmamanukan - bird of omen, usually letting travelers know to expect good or bad luck •
Tikbalang - half-man, half-horse (reverse centaur), terrorizes women
• Tiyanak/Impakto - child-like creatures that eat the living and terrify children
• Wakwak - human, bird-like creatures flying in the night sky in search for flesh and blood
Activity 3
Imagine That! (15 points each)
1. Draw, sketch, or paint a scene or a character from any of the myths in the lesson. An image
manipulation program (like Paint, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, etc.) is allowed, as long as it is
2. A few of the gods’ children are described in appearance. But you never know what all the other
gods appear as. Pick from Maguayan, Captan, Lihangin, Lidagat, and Lumawig, and illustrate
what you think they look like. Use the context clues in the lesson to figure out what they are
exactly. This can be drawn, sketched, painted, or image manipulated.
The Sun and the Moon (Mandaya)
The Sun and the Moon were married, but the Sun was very ugly and quarrelsome. One day he became angry at
the Moon and started to chase her. She ran very fast until she was some distance ahead of him, when she grew
tired and he almost caught her. Ever since he has been chasing her, at times almost reaching her, and again
falling far behind.
The first child of the Sun and Moon was a large star, and he was like a man. One time the Sun, becoming angry
at the star, cut him up into small pieces and scattered him over the whole sky just as a woman scatters rice, and
ever since there have been many stars.
Another child of the Sun and Moon was a gigantic crab. He still lives and is so powerful that every time he
opens and closes his eyes there is a flash of lightning. Most of the time the crab lives in a large hole in the
bottom of the sea, and when he is there, we have high tide; but when he leaves the hole, the waters rush in and
there is low tide. His moving about also causes great waves on the surface of the sea.
The crab is quarrelsome like his father; and he sometimes becomes so angry with his mother, the Moon, that
he tries to swallow her. When the people on earth, who are fond of the Moon, see the crab near her, they run
out of doors and shout and beat on gongs until he is frightened away, and thus the Moon is saved.
Activity 4
Answer the following questions briefly.
1. Who are the characters in the story? Describe each of them.
2. How did the Sun frighten the moon?
3. Describe the marriage of the couple in the story.
4. If you were the Sun in the story, would you do the same to your loved one? Why? Why not?
5. What happens when the crab goes on and off the shore?
Like the number of gods in the Philippines pantheon, the number of creatures that fill Filipino folklore is
numerous. From the myths retold by the separate townsfolk of different dialects, you will find that the
creatures serve similar roles as its Western counterparts. Of course, while the ancient Filipino creation
myth is the widely acknowledged version of the world’s creation, there are still other versions from
different dialects.