Superstition in the Philippines

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In the Philippines, a handful of superstitious beliefs exist that are very famous amongst the natives. These beliefs are typically introduced to them at a very early age through children's books or bedtime stories. It is believed that if natives aren't careful to follow them, a curse will befall them.

Superstitious beliefs[edit]

Knocking on wood[edit]

An action Filipinos do to counter a negative remark. For example, if a friend were to say “I might get hit by a car while crossing the road”, wood has to be knocked to avoid it from happening.

Tabi-tabi po[edit]

A common phrase said out loud when passing through dwellings of spirits, such as cemeteries or haunted grasslands. It is a way to show respect and avoid disturbing spirits and other mythical creatures who live in these areas.


When coming from a wake, a Filipino practice would be not to go home straight away as it is believed that the soul of the dead would follow one back to his/her house. One may stop anywhere one pleases as long as one does not go straight home.

Filipino folklore[edit]


Kapres are described as giants that usually sit atop tall trees smoking cigars.


The Tikbalang is described as a horse with human-like features said to lurk in the mountains and forests.


Tiyanaks are believed to be unborn babies that take on the form of a newborn baby monster in distress to attract people towards them.

Nuno sa punso[edit]

Nuno sa punso is described to have dwarf-like features that dwell in mounds.

Manananggal, Aswang, and Tiktik[edit]

Aswangs are one of the most feared monsters in the Philippines. They are shape-shifting, flesh-eating monsters that can blend in with the townspeople during the day, but prey on them at night. The manananggal and tiktik commonly prey on pregnant women. These creatures are known for having a long tongue used to suck out the blood of the woman and snatch the fetus in their bellies.


Diwata is a deity or spirit which appears as human beings who live in different parts of nature. They are believed to be beautiful and compassionate creatures, which is why Filipinos often say that they are like diwatas. They are also higher beings who lead their people and give fortune.

Filipino witchcraft[edit]


A Filipino witch or mangkukulam is a person who casts spells, curses, or black magic on the people they want to take revenge on. This practice involves the use of a voodoo doll and a needle along with their candle-lighting rituals and anything performed on the doll will also be felt by the victim.


Gayuma is considered to be a type of magic meant to charm or attract someone, this usually manifests itself in the form of a love potion.


Albularyo or faith healers are very common in the Philippines, especially in the rural areas. They use herbs as their main healing instrument. Their healing prowess is said to be very powerful as they heal their patients with the use of their bare hands accompanied by various chants, rituals, and prayers.


  1. Clark, Jordan (3 March 2016). "The Diwata of Philippine Mythology". The Aswang Project. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  2. Escalona, Katrina (31 July 2017). "9 Superstitions Many Filipinos Still Believe". Culture Trip. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  3. "How Love Spells or Gayuma Work?". Babaylan Adlaw. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  4. Prestosa, Rosabelle (14 January 2019). "Witchcraft Practice in the Philippines". Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  5. Simisim, Francis (27 October 2011). "Top 10 Scariest Local Filipino Monsters in the Philippines". When in Manila. Retrieved 26 March 2021.