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Love Philippine Folklore? Brush Up On These 3 Filipino Folktales

Get to know the mythical creatures of the Philippines!

Just recently, GMA News and Public Affairs launched their newest podcast! Called ‘Sounds and Stories of the Philippines’, the one-of-a-kind ASMR podcast is all about the magical and enchanting folktales of the Philippines. The stories are also accompanied by soothing background sounds from nature and traditional musical instruments of the Philippines!

Sounds and Stories of the Philippines is produced by Rizza Mendiola and Lala Lacsina, and narrated by veteran voice over artist Shirley Escalante. “It is being used as a channel to speak about the rich heritage of the Philippines. Even I get surprised that I did not know of some folktales featured in the ‘The Sounds and Stories of the Philippines’,” Escalante said. (Read: Erik Matti Directs ‘Albularyo’ Episode in Season 2 Folklore On HBO Go)

She added, “The further I read out the Philippine folktales, the more I become interested and excited about this podcast.” Episodes come out every Tuesday. So while waiting for the next episode to drop next week, here are some Filipino folktales you can read on!

Filipino Folktale: Mariang Makiling

‘Maria Makiling’ (1947) by Fernando Amorsolo (Photo from MutualArt)

Mariang Makiling is the well known fairy or diwata who is said to be living in and protecting Mount Makiling in Laguna. According to those who were said to have seen her in person, the diwata is tall and slender, and has “superhuman beauty”. Mariang Makiling has long been considered a protector spirit–protecting the mountain and the people and animals living in it. She used to often be seen by people in Mount Makiling, but in recent years, “sightings” of her have been rare. People say it’s because the diwata has distanced herself from mortals because of the deforestation and hunting happening around her.

Filipino Folktale: Tikbalang

Photo from The Pinoy Warrior

The Tikbalang is a hybrid creature–it has the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. According to legend, anyone who can pluck the golden hair from the tikbalang’s nape will be able to tame it and make it their slave. The creature lurks in forests and mountains, and is said to be the guard or protector of mythical kingdoms as it has strong legs and hooves. The tikbalang is often found on top of trees where they look around to check for any threats to their kingdom. (Read: This Batangueña Artist Paints Dreamlike Images of Pinoy Mythology)

Filipino Folktale: Alitaptap

Photo from Kenny E. Leoncito Twitter

The alitaptap or firefly is an actual living creature that everyone is able to see with their naked eye, especially in the province. But did you know that the Philippines has a rather heartbreaking folktale regarding the origin of this beautiful creature? Bula-hari and his wife, Bitu-in had a daughter, Alitaptap, who was named as such since she had a bright sparkling star on her forehead. She had immense beauty that all the brave and handsome men in their town fell in love with her. But because she isn’t human, she had a heart of stone and would never know love. But one day, an old wise woman came bearing news that warriors from another town will be conquering them, and the only solution is for Alitaptap to marry and have an heir.

Alitaptap’s father pleaded that she marry to save their kingdom, but to no avail. In his anger, Bula-hari drew his sword and hit the star on his daughter’s forehead. The start broke into a million tiny pieces and darkness fell on Pinak. The only thing that lit the place was the shattered pieces from Alitaptap’s star. The conquering happened afterwards, all people in Pinak were killed and the town was destroyed. But even after all the destruction, the night was always illuminated by tiny specks of light which they now called Alitaptap.

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