The Philippines is known to be a very superstitious country, with so many people believing in the supernatural world and its entities. The millennials today can still remember when their elders would tell them tales of their mythical encounters.
This time, we are honoring our tradition by taking a look at some of the legends of the mythical creatures of the Mindanao region, as the beliefs of the different Mindanao ancient tribes and people tell a complex story about the world.
While the Garuda is a creature in the Maranao tale “The Bird That Stole the Sultan’s Beard”, it actually comes from Hindu mythology in which it is traditionally depicted as the ‘king of the birds’ and “has the torso and arms of a man and the wings, head, beak and talons of an eagle or vulture”. This deity also is in some Tagalog/Visayan creation myths. Yet, the Garuda in the Maranao tale comes from the underwater realm.
According to the literature, one description talks about the creature saying, “Have you not heard about the winged monster Garuda? When he flies, his wings sound like ten thunderstorms. The sweep of his wings pulls down houses and uproots trees. He can carry six men in his talons, and I tremble to think what will happen if he finds you here.”
The Imprisoned Naga
According to the mythology of Samal, which is a coastal city in the province of Davao del Norte, the milky way is seen as a gigantic dragon, which is also known as a Naga, trapped in the sky. It is said that God granted a couple’s wish to be saved from the savage beast and thus put into the sky, and when the world will end, it will eat the unfaithful people.
The Imprisoned Naga has been written about back in 1973, to which it reads, “The family closed their eyes and waited for the inevitable, but the Almighty heard their pleas and showed his benevolence. The dragon leapt, but it did not meet its target. It rose high into the heavens, past the clouds and into the realm of the stars, gigantic gouts of flame and smoke trailing in its wake.”
According to The Aswang Project, the Mantiyanak is “a spirit with a slit in her belly with her unborn child inside.” She is a vengeful spirit who sees men as enemies because she thinks she could have lived a fruitful life if she had not been impregnated by men in her life. Because of this, she attacks men at night, ripping off their genitals with her long and sharp claws. She is said to be afraid of women and would cry like a cat.
Among everything so far about giant creatures such as the Bakunawa, a giant serpent who eats the moon, and the Imprisoned Naga, a giant dragon that was sent to the sky by God, there exists another gigantic creature known as the Tambanokano. Just like the Bakunawa, it is said to seek out the moon so that the creature can eat it. According to Mandaya folklore, the Sun and the Moon had a child which turned out to be a giant crab named Tambanokano. It is said to be so powerful that “every time he opens and closes his eyes there is a flash of lightning”.
The crab loves to get into trouble and quarrel with his mother, and during their fights, he would swallow her. Just like the Bakunawa story, people would often make noise to scare away the Tambanokano.