Meet the Myths I: Philippine Folklore You Gotta Know!

Surely most of us are familiar with Egyptian mythology after studying them at school. We’ve also been immersed in Norse Mythology thanks to the big screen’s Thor (and Loki because Tom Hiddleston, hello?) And of course, one of the most well-known are the Greek and Roman mythologies which are constantly present in literature and film today.

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Ironically, what we don’t really know much about is our very own Philippine Mythology. But there are still a lot of underrated deities, heroes, legends, and creatures right under our noses! Get to know some of them below:

1. Bathala

 Photo courtesy of trixdraws on DeviantArt

As the god of the gods, Bathala is considered as the highest of all beings and the creator of the Universe as well as everything within it. He is highly revered and worshipped by pre-colonial Filipinos, oftentimes offering sacrifices in exchange for answered prayers or simply to honor him for his blessing and guidance.

Seems familiar? Similar to Zeus/Jupiter of Greek/Roman mythology, Bathala is looked up to by his people and rules over the other gods in the mythology spectrum. Think of him as the team leader of your group or the front man of your favorite band!

 

2. Diwata and Engkanto

Photo courtesy of jbballaran on DeviantArt

Diwatas and Engkantos are environmental spirits who may be considered as good luck to those they take a liking to or become associated with curses for those who cross or offend them. Oftentimes, they receive

offerings from their believers in order to gain their favor.

Seems familiar? Similar to the naiads and dryads of Greek mythology, these beings co-exist with mortals who live nearby a cluster of nature such as forests or bodies of water.

 

3. Malakas and Maganda

Photo courtesy of bambooman.com

According to the myth, during the early days of creation, there was this Kawayan (Bamboo) which was continuously pecked by a bird until it cracked. When it split in two, out came a man who was named Malakas (the Strong One) and a woman who eventually became known as Maganda (the Beautiful One).

Seems familiar? Parallel to Adam and Eve in Christian beliefs, Malakas and Maganda is believed to be the original ancestors of humanity. When you think about it, seems like everyone is interconnected after all – like an extended family!

 

4. Bernardo Carpio

Photo courtesy of Ricky A. Serrano.

There are so many different variations of stories behind Bernardo Carpio’s lore, but one of the most prominent is that he has been bestowed with the gift of great strength. It is said that up to this day, he is trapped between two gigantic rocks in the mountains and that he is keeping them from clashing together. The legend also explains that whenever there are earthquakes, it’s because of Bernardo trying to break free from his stone prison.

Seems familiar? Because of his brute strength, Bernardo is often compared to the known Greek characters: The hero Hercules or the Titan Atlas. Yup, definitely don’t want to cross this guy!

 

5. Urduja

Photo courtesy of The Aswang Project

Even in the mythological setting, women are not to be underestimated. One of the notable females in Philippine legends is Princess Urduja. However, up to this day, there are still debates on whether she was a real person or simply a lore. Still, it cannot be denied that her feisty demeanor made her the OG founder and leader of movements to bring down the patriarchy!

Seems familiar? Just like Atalanta of Greek Mythology (or maybe even Princess Merida?), Urduja also refused to be married except to someone who can beat her in strength, wit, and bravery. You go girl!

Indeed, Philippine Folklore is a vast subject filled with a lot of exciting stories. And because the Philippines is an archipelago, there’s also a wide variety of myths about the country left to be discovered – all of them equally interesting!

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Do you know any interesting Philippine myth or folklore? Do share it with us below!

Ailla is your resident punny girl who lives and breathes words. With iced coffee in her veins, she binge-watches tv series and do reading marathons while fangirling – HARD. She is a true-blue INFJ nerd who dreams to publish her own book someday. Find her around the web as @MioneJeanPotter 🙂

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