History and Culture
From Bicolano Imagination, Fearsome Supernatural Creatures
Choose Philippines | Nov 14, 2019
Story by Mae Pulvinar
The Philippines is rich when it comes to supernatural creatures, mythical beasts, and enchanted beings, with each region having their own stories about these folkloric beliefs. These creatures, more often, are said to be mere products of people’s imagination. However, fiction writers and historians believe that these characters are mostly used as a guide to people’s lives, that in every story, there is a hidden message one must discover. According to Bicolano fictionist and poet Frank Peñones, this is can also be explained by the Filipino's tendency to try to explain everything around them.
In Bicol, particularly in the Camarines Sur province, one of the most famous creatures is the so-called 'Magindara'. According to a well-known Filipino historian Dr. Danilo Gerona, the Magindara is the reverse concept of mermaids in Western mythology, as documented by the early records written by Spaniards. Being so, this creature has the face of a fish with a female body, starting from its shoulders. They have breasts and long legs of a woman making them more attractive when they're underwater. It has also been said that the Magindara used to live in Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur. Also known as the Goddess of the sea, this creature was considered the lucky charm of local fishermen who called on the Magindara to ask for a great catch. Whenever they had a good one, the people believed that Magindara was around. Dr. Gerona adds that the creature has also been associated with the family of sea cows because of its appearance.
Next in line is Tambaluslos, a mythological being with an oversized scrotum that almost dangles to the floor (Luslos is a Bicol word referring to a male medical abnormality). According to Bicolano fiction writer and poet Kristian Kordero, this creature is well-known, not just in Camarines Sur, but in the entire Bicol region. The Tambaluslos is said to be a tall humanoid creature known for his very strange grin and large mouth. According to Dr. Gerona, this supernatural creature resides in the forest, misguiding women that he admires. Once lost, the only way to find their way back is to take off all their clothes and put them back upside-down. Right after seeing the naked body, Tambaluslos will laugh hard making his big mouth cover his eyes. By that time, the victim will be able to make an escape from the creature’s spell.
Another supernatural creature known in the province is Onglo. According to Mr. Peñones, Onglo is an invisible creature. No visual descriptions were recorded, so as its identity. This creature, however, exists in the rural places of Camarines Sur. Although considered as a friendly being unless provoked, people who happened to passed by to this supernatural creature experiences itchiness all around the body and the only way to get rid of this is to whip the affected body part with a female’s long hair.