Folk Traditions and Beliefs


Before the coming of the Spaniards and the introducing of Roman Catholicism, the indigenous inhabitants were believer of animism, or the worship of nature. As in Roman Catholicism, their pre-Hispanic beliefs consisted of a hierarchy of gods, goddesses, and spirits which bear similarity to that of Roman Catholicism, which is why the latter has been accepted easily by the inhabitants. Bathala was the supreme God of the Tagalogs, symbolized by the araw, or sun.




The supreme God of the Bikolanos was Gugurang. Other Tagalog Gods and Goddesses include the buwan or moon, tala or stars, and even objects, such as trees, shrubs, mountains, or rocks. The spirits consist of aswang (ghoul), tikbalang (a man having the head of a horse), kapre (a giant that is smoking tobacco), tiyanak ( vampire feeding on children's blood), santelmo (fireball), dwende (dwarves and elves), ik-ik (witches), and a lot of engkanto (minor spirits) and diwata (fairies/nymphs). Aside from that, voodoo practices were practiced by the pre-colonial inhabitants, such as pangkukulam, or witchcraft. Beliefs such as usog (a child greeted by a stranger will get sick) and lihi (unusual craving for something during pregnancy) are also present. These beliefs were carried on up to the present generation of Filipinos, which has directed some foreign authors to describe them as 'Pagan-Christians'.