The final week of #FilipinoAmericanHistoryMonth is here, which means it’s time for our last FAHM post for October. Since Halloween is also around the corner, we want to share something that is predominantly European: mythology & folklore.
Although we would love to do our own research and share it, we are instead collaborating with PilipinxPages. PilipinxPages is a bookstagram that focuses on Pilipino literature run by two lovely people, Tiffany and Nathalie. This duo is not only sharing with us their knowledge about Pilipino mythology and folklore, but also their own personal journeys as they became more active on PilipinxPages. They will also be sharing with us Halloween activities to interactively learn about aswang. Don’t worry – they are appropriate for all ages.
Discovering Pilipino Folklore & Mythology
Tiffany’s Personal Journey
Our activity from PilipinxPages got me into Pilipino folklore. Generally, I’m not one for folklore, but Lola: A Ghost Story by J. Torres enchanted me. I did not find the book too scary or gory so it is definitely appropriate for younger readers. After reading it, I found myself just wanting to learn more! Since then, I’ve been reading mostly middle-grade and children’s fiction and would love to see aswang not just for the diaspora but for people outside of it. There’s a real appetite for non-European folklore happening at the moment!
Nathalie’s Personal Journey
I am currently in the midst of writing a Filipino fantasy novel. Before we started PilipinxPages, I was constantly researching monsters at first, but it led me down a path of learning folklore, culture, mythology and history. I’ve never looked back.
At the time, I wished there was a centralized place to find this information. The only thing I could find cohesively about mythology and in the English language was the Aswang Project.
I’m incredibly grateful for all their videos, articles and other media because it helped me discover a fascinating yet lesser-known mythology. Growing up, I never once learned about Pilipino mythology and folklore. All I knew was Greek, Roman and Norse mythology from my education and playing lots of video games. Once I finally got into Maximo D. Ramos’ books, like Philippine Myths, Legends, and Folktales, I now devour any book that relates to Filipino aswang, including the recently released Vampires of Portlandia, a fantasy based on Filipino aswangs by Jason Tanamor and Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo.
Aswang Book List & Resources
Previously, Nathalie mentioned that it is not easy to find multiple resources nor books about Pilipino mythology and folklore. Luckily, Nathalie and Tiffany have graciously compiled a list to make discovering Pilipino mythology and folklore a lot easier:
Online Educational Resource
Maximo D. Ramos
As a teacher, author, and editor, Maximo D. Ramos published 10 works that are collectively titled as Realms of Myth and Reality. We only list 5 of his books, but we highly encourage you to explore his entire collection to learn more about Pilipino folklore and mythology. You can find the full list here.
Philippine Myths, Legends, and Folktales by Maximo D. Ramos
A collection of 31 myths, legends and folktales from all over the Philippines that portray the rich, diverse cultural identity throughout the islands. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
The Creatures of Philippines Lower Mythology by Maximo D. Ramos
Maximo D. Ramos’s attempt to systemize the identities of the Philippine mythological beings for the benefit of folklore scholarship. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
Legends of Lower Gods: Stories about Creatures from Philippine Mythology and Folklore by Maximo D. Ramos
From demons to dragons, merfolk to witches, Ramos explores the 12 groups of demonological beings that have shaped Philippine culture and behavior. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
Creatures of Midnight by Maximo D. Ramos
This book depicts 85 creatures of legend from Philippine folklore. Many still believe they exist and fear them as they only show themselves to people in the middle of the night. Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble (non-affiliate).
Tales of Long Ago in the Philippines by Maximo D. Ramos
A collection of 37 myths, legends, and folktales where you will find tales about origin, animals, adventure, heroes, and stories just to make you laugh. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
Other Pilipinx Mythology & Folklore Reads
Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs Vol 1 + Vol 2 by Fr. Francisco Demetrio
An encyclopedia containing the beliefs and customs taken from the lowlanders and ethnic tribes of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
The Forgotten Children of Maui by Lane Wilcken
In this book, Wilcken explores what has been overlooked and ignored by western scholars who have recorded the tales of Maui. Photo courtesy of Amazon (non-affiliate).
Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor
In attempt to give her family of aswang vampires a peaceful life, Marcella Leones relocates from the Philippines to Oregon. Now, it’s all in the hands of her eldest grandchild, Pervical, to continue her legacy. Photo courtesy of Goodreads (non-affiliate).
Pilipinx Graphic Novels
Carnal: Banahaw by Bambi Eloriaga-Amago, Roland Amago, BK Peña
As greusome killings plague a mountain town, locals cower and gossip that otherwordly creatures committed the crime. But something doesn’t add up… Photo courtesy of Mervin Malonzo’s Art & Books Store (non-affiliate).
The Mythology Class by Arnold Arre
A graphic novel that follows a girl who has a strong passion for Filipino myths passed down from her grandfather. She finds herself racing to recapture supernatural creatures who have escaped and are wreaking havoc among the humans. Photo courtesy of Goodreads (non-affiliate).
As we responsibly celebrate Halloween, try out one of these activities with your children or amongst your friends to learn more about Pilipino mythology and folklore as well as each other’s favorite aswang.
Dress as Your Favorite Aswang – Kid Friendly
Have your friends or kids dress up as their favourite aswang. If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry. There are a lot of short stories where you can learn about different creatures, so it’s not too late to read up and find a favorite!
With multiple participants you can have an aswang fashion show, aswang talent show or aswang/folklore creature party for alternate trick-or-treat activities!
For an immersive experience for children, have your child pretend to be an aswang for a day. What would they do? How would they act? (And yes, aswang/folklore mythical creatures eat everything on their plate–even vegetables).
Stories by the Campfire – Kid Friendly
A classic activity to do on Halloween is story-telling. Take your kids to the backyard for some scary aswang stories by the campfire.
Don’t have a campfire? Pitch a fort indoors and tell spooky aswang stories in the dark. To get your kids involved, encourage them to tell a story or take turns by saying one line each until the story concludes. Of course, you have the liberty to make this as scary as you want.
Stay-Home Marathon – All Ages
The Aswang Project has loads of YouTube videos that range from short 2-minute videos to full on movies that are about 1.5 hours. You can chill at home while binge-watching with the family and eating all the candy you’ve amassed from your night of trick or treating.
Pass the Chick! – Kid Friendly
This game comes from the tale of aswang turning others into aswang by passing on a black chick to one another.
To start, get a few baby chick dolls and paint them black. Hand out slips of paper to each person, having one marked as the aswang and one a babaylan (a Philippine shaman).
The one marked aswang will then chase everyone around the house. If he or she successfully puts the chick into someone else’s hands for fifteen seconds, the other turns into an aswang as well.
The newly turned aswang can either aid the main aswang with their own chick doll, or flee to the babaylan. Both the babaylan and aswang must sit out for a minute. The babaylan can only heal the hostile aswangs if he or she is able to steal his/her doll for fifteen seconds.
If everyone becomes an aswang, the aswangs win. If the babaylan can successfully heal everyone, the humans win.
Tamrah Lane Discovering Pilipino Mythology and Folklore
After learning from PilipinxPages, Rasha and I can confidently say that we know nothing about Philippine folklore and mythology. Honestly, we are missing out! Fortunately, there are resources out there like PilipinxPages and The Aswang Project for people like us to deepen our connection to our Filipino culture and identity.
With that being said, what are you most interested in learning about? What piqued your interest? And who else is excited that a Filipino graphic novel is coming to Netflix?!