Filipino Culture: Legends and Mythical Creatures

As small as a country the Philippines is, Filipino culture is full of many legends, folktales, and quite a lot of mythical creatures.

Filipino people care much about faith. That being said, Filipino families have passed on generation to generation many folktales and legends as well as mythical creatures that are surely interesting.

There are many Filipino traditions that are based on these stories as well. Therefore, if you want to know Filipino culture, I suggest you learn about the different legend and mythical creatures that Filipino people have.

Malakas and Maganda

The most famous legend of Filipino culture is the legend of Malakas and Maganda (which means Strong and Beautiful respectively). This is the legend told by Filipino people that resemble the creation of man (in the Philippines). The story is about the God of Sky and the Goddess of the Sea always fighting. But the God of Air reconciled them. They, later on, they fell in love and produced seed. This seed grew to be a bamboo tree. When a bird pecked on this special bamboo tree, it cracked open and released a man and a woman who were named Malakas and Maganda. They procreated and procreated and the Filipino people are born.

Filipino people are believers. They believe in many Filipino traditions as well as in mythical creatures. There are creatures that have never before been heard in the western world. Sometimes, they have resemblances but some of the Filipino people have made clear that there are sightings of these said mythical creatures.

Let’s get to know them.

The Aswang

The Aswang is the most famous mythical creature in Filipino culture. The Aswang is always a woman. They are some sort of bad witches that are known to terrorize lands bringing sickness and misfortune. Aswang is the creature that most Filipino families use to scare their children. They say that the Aswang gets little children who don’t obey their parents.

The Manananggal

The Manananggal is like Aswangs too, but they are the ones that fly. Yes, they fly. They are women as well. These are the mythical creatures of Filipino culture that are known to hunt pregnant women. During the daytime, they are said to be normal Filipino people. But when the night comes, the body of these women get split in half, leaving their bottom part wherever they desire.

The top part of their bodies grow wings and they find their victims by flying. Then, when they have spotted their victims, they go to the roof, and with their long tongue, they target the belly of the pregnant women and eat their child.

Scary, huh?

But don’t worry as Filipino people know how to defeat the Manananggal. To kill this creature, Filipino culture states that you should find the lower half of the body and bombard it with salt.

Yup, it’s easy to defeat it – as long as you find where the body is.

The Kapre

The Kapre is a hairy giant man that lives in trees. Unlike the Aswang and the Manananggal, Kapre does not harm people. They are, however, known to play pranks on people. Many Filipino people say that what’s scary about the Kapre is their looks.

The Sirena

The Sirena is a mythical creature known all over the world – it is a mermaid. The Sirena, however, is told to abduct fishermen by their song. Just like any other mermaid, the Sirena has a body of
a human and the tail of a fish. Again, Sirenas are women. It is said in the Filipino culture that they victimize only men.

Everywhere you go, you will get to hear legends and get to know mythical creatures. Filipino culture is rich in these two. The Philippine Islands are so far apart from each other that they are known to have different Filipino traditions, legends, and mythical creatures to believe in. If you will notice, the mythical creatures are always of a scary nature. Well, the Filipino families, over centuries, have found a way to defeat them. So don’t worry. If you are in the Philippines and you come across some of these mythical creatures, just visit Filipino families and your problem will be solved.

The Last Piece Syndrome

No category about Filipino culture would be complete without mention of what is called “the last piece syndrome”.

Filipino culture insists that one leave the last piece of anything (food) for someone else.

What do I mean? Well, this is how it works:

Let’s say you’re eating out with some friends and have a whole pizza in front of you, sliced up and ready to be eaten.

Everyone takes a piece, and then a second piece until there is only one remaining piece of pizza left.

Now in any other place than the Philippines, I bet people would either race for that last piece or leave it for whoever gets its first -not big deal right?

This is where Filipino culture kicks in because here nobody wants to be the one to get that last piece!

(There maybe one or two who do want it but for some reason, getting that piece is so difficult to do)

Normally, a conversation about that last piece of pizza will go something like this:

Friend 1: Go on, Friend 2, get the last piece, I know you’re hungry.
Friend 2: No, I’m ok, Friend 3 should have it, and she’s the skinniest.
Friend 3: No, I don’t want any more, Friend 1, you can have it.
Friend 1: Ok, Let’s just share Friend 3.

As to how long the conversation will last, well it depends on how many of you there are and probably how close you are.

How is this ‘dilemma’ solved? Well, after the above lines get said all around the table, someone will, finally, say “ok, fine-if you guys insist, I’ll have it” or else, the piece will just be left on the table.

I have noticed that pushing back and forth usually is shorter when among close friends. I think in these cases, it really is just a matter of abiding to tradition.

I really have no idea where this ‘last piece syndrome’ comes from but I guess that’s the beauty with Filipino culture-it needs no origin or explanation-it is just what it is.

Filipino Culture: Filipino People: Ethnic Groups


Being an archipelago, the Filipino people are divided into many, many ethnic groups. This is one factor that brings Filipino culture much variety. This is one reason why there are so many Filipino traditions and festivities that the whole country honors. When you go to the Philippines and travel from the northernmost part to the south, you will get to see many Filipino families of different ethnic groups. To be sure that you will be able to relate to each Filipino family, I suggest you get to know the different ethnic groups of the Filipino people. 

The Tagalog.

The Tagalog Filipinos are those that live in the country’s capital, Manila. They are the ones that speak the Tagalog dialect, where the Filipino language is based from. As of now, there are somewhere around 25 million Tagalog Filipino people there. If you come to the Philippines and land in Manila, you can expect Tagalog Filipino people and Filipino families to welcome you there. The Tagalog Filipino people are most commonly of the Roman Catholic religion. However, given the variety of the Filipino culture, there are many Tagalog Filipino people who are not.

The Ilocanos.

As the name of this ethnic group implies, the Ilocano Filipino people are the ones that hail from the Ilocos region, from the northern Philippine coasts. Most of the Ilocano Filipino people are farmers and fishermen, given the topography of their home. There are somewhere around 9 million Ilocano Filipino people as of now. They speak the Ilocano dialect. When a Filipino family you come across with is Ilocano, they are most likely frugal and hard working. These two are the main characteristics of the Ilocano Filipino people. They celebrate quite a lot of Filipino traditions too, much like the rest of the Filipino people. Some of the most famous Filipino people that are Ilocanos are the former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – speak about being hardworking, huh.

The Bicolanos.

The Bicolanos are the Filipino people that hail from, you guessed it, the Bicol region. This is found in the south east part of Luzon. Much like the Tagalogs and the Ilocanos, the language of the Bicolanos are Bikol. As of present, there are approximately 6 million Bicolanos. The Bicol region is known for their famous volcano, Mt. Mayon. This certain volcano is renowned because of its perfect cone – no matter how active it is. Another famous part of this Filipino culture is their cuisine. The Bicolanos are known to cook well. They love spicy food as well.

The Kapangpangans.

The Kapangpangan Filipino people are the people who hail from the center part of the Luzon Island. The Kapangpangan people speak the Kapangpangan dialect. There are around 3 million of them at present. They are known for being brave and courageous. They are the Filipino people that are credited to be the first Filipino people who defended the country from the Spanish invasion back in the 16th century. They are known to have notorious Filipino traditions as well. The Kapangpangans are the Filipino people who literally re-enact the sufferings of Jesus Christ – yes, literally. They are the Filipino people who ask to be nailed on a cross during the Holy Week so as to repent for their sins.

The Visayans.

The Visayans are the Filipino people that live, well, in the Visayas Islands. The thing is that there are many little ethnic groups under this. The main reason is that this certain part of the Filipino culture is composed of many little islands. Each of these islands are home to different ethnic groups. They speak the Visayan language but there are many variations under this. They are the majority of the Filipino people as there are somewhere around 33 million Visayans in the entire Philippine Islands at present. The Visayas region is also known to have the most colorful Filipino traditions such as the Maskara festival (the Masks Festival), the HIgantes Festival (the Giants Festival), and many others.

The Philippines, being composed of 7107 islands is indeed home to many ethnic groups. What’s nice about all this is that the Filipino people are united. They love working together. The Filipino families pray together as they spend most of their time with each other as well. This is the core of the Filipino culture. This is the core of the Filipino traditions. I, therefore, highly recommend that you take a trip around the Philippines. I am sure that you will not just have fun, you will learn a lot as well.

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