4 unconventional short fiction pieces about Philippine mythology

By Denise Fernandez

It’s always utterly fascinating to read about Philippine mythology. Our folklore is so rich that vampires and werewolves look real boring compared to terrifying monsters like the manananggal, tikbalang, tiyanak, and more. And there’s no better time to read some dark tales about them than this Halloween season.

However, as strange and sometimes scary these local supernatural beings, there may be some sides to them that we have yet to understand. These authors and tales explore Philippine folklore in a way that no one really has. From gentle kapres to diwatas cutting off their wings, here are four stories of Philippine folklore you can read to spice up your Halloweekend.

“Kapre: A Love Story” by Erin Chupeco
Featured Creature: Kapre

We’ll start with something not too spooky. The kapre is quite a terrifying cryptid once you really think about it. I mean, a giant, hairy monster smoking tobacco up the tree found in your backyard? No, thanks. But in Erin Chupeco’s story, we see the titular kapre tearing down his walls for a young girl, showing that perhaps even the worst of monsters can find redemption.

“The Night Market” by Holly Black
Featured Creature: Engkanto

Holly Black is a popular author known for her young adult novels. The Night Market is part of The Poison Eaters, her short fiction collection. Though Holly is not a Filipino herself, her husband is, and he helped her craft the rich Filipino setting where her story begins. In The Night Market, lead character Tomasa tries to cure her sick sister and encounters a mischievous young engkanto while doing so. It also teaches a great lesson of learning to love the self.

“What Became of Fr. Rene” by Alexa Sharpe
Featured Creature: Amalanhig

You’re not just in for a good story in this piece but also some beautifully-illustrated drawings by half-Filipino artist Alexa Sharpe. Part of her Espiritu series of Filipino fiction, What Became of Fr. Rene is set in the colonial era in the Philippines. It tells the tale of one mysterious priest and the strange events that happen in the small town he sets foot in.

“Fairy Tales” by Eliza Victoria
Featured Creature: Diwata

Renowned fiction writer Eliza Victoria concocts a Black Mirror-esque take on the diwata. In Fairy Tales, the diwata live among humans now and it is a popular cosmetic choice to have their wings surgically removed. A diwata who calls herself Crystal talks to a writer about her life.

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