12 Filipino books on mythological creatures

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In books about Philippine Mythology, Filipino authors take us through the shape-shifting abilities of mermaids, the legend of the mananaggal, and the back stories of the diwatas, among others.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — As children, we have been repeatedly reminded to say “tabi-tabi po” as a sign of respect for creatures that we do not see. We must be careful; do not step on them; These creatures may or may not be living among us, but better to be safe, right?

We have been simultaneously scared and fascinated with these creatures that we cannot help but tell stories about them every now and then. So, we write; we create. We introduce these creatures in different lights and in different books and art forms. For we must not forget that there are so many Filipino writers who have written and created such beautiful works about Philippine mythology, and who better to write about these creatures but us Filipinos?

Here are a few books about mythological creatures that thrust them into new forms and new heights.

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“A Bottle of Storm Clouds: Stories” by Eliza Victoria

This collection contains a total of 16 short stories featuring a modern Maria Makiling, an abduction of mermaids, a goddess in the human world, and a man with chicken legs. This collection is filled with imaginative and original ideas that will transport you to various dimensions with remarkable creatures and characters.  

“A Bottle of Storm Clouds: Stories” is available at Lazada and bookstores nationwide.

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“The Mermaid from Siquijor” by Justine-Camacho Tajonera

Learn more about mermaids — their legends, their shape-shifting abilities, and their duties to the human world as the bearers of light. Enter the worlds of the characters — both on land and underwater, and be prepared to swim.

“The Mermaid from Siquijor” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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“Alternatibo sa Alternatibong Mundo: 13 Metakwento / Malakuwento” by Edgar Calabia Samar

Although not all stories from this collection tackle Philippine mythological creatures, it is important to mention that one particular story in this collection, “Metang Manananggal,” talks about the legend of the manananggal — how we, as human beings, used to dream about being able to fly without wanting to be seen as animals. By keeping our original state as human beings, except with wings, the mananaggal was created.

“Alternatibo sa Alternatibong Mundo: 13 Metakwento / Malakuwento” is available at Visprint, Inc., National Book Store, and Fully Booked.

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“Horror: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults” edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Kenneth Yu

An anthology which mainly highlights the horror of being human: our fears, failures, lies, and deepest desires. It includes a story about a manananggal selling ice cream for souls and many other stories which emphasize how the living can be haunted by their own existence, and that the living can also be the ones doing the haunting.

“Horror: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults” is available at UP Press.

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“Ang Pagbabalik ni Maria Makiling: Unang Aklat” by Will P. Ortiz

This is the rebirth of Maria Makiling with notes and back stories on how to capture and kill diwatas. It starts with the 12th birthday of the main character, Aya Aquiling, on Dec. 12, 2012. However, the supposed birthday party for Aya does not happen, because on the first second of Aya’s 12th birthday, her entire world changes — without her.

“Ang Pagbabalik ni Maria Makiling: Unang Aklat” is available at UP Press.

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“After Lambana” by Eliza Victoria and Mervin Malonzo

This beautiful graphic novel opens with the question: “You know how you can tell if a person was killed by a Sirena?” Travel the real world and the Lambana dimension through the Diwata Language; meet mermaids and diwatas as you read along and discover how to kill a mermaid and the consequences of doing so.

“After Lambana” is available at Visprint, Inc., National Bookstore, and Fully Booked.

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“Wounded Little Gods” by Eliza Victoria

Meet some old Filipino gods and spirits who used to roam around the small town of Heridos. Along with these gods, be prepared for revelations of dark and horrifying medical experiments made in history and how these same gods and spirits contributed to it.

“Wounded Little Gods” is available at Visprint, Inc., National Bookstore, and Fully Booked.

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“Janus Silang 1 to 3” by Edgar Calabia Samar

Beware. This is not the type of book that you should read at night. Through reading this series, you will discover an entirely new and fascinating world with tiyanaks, do-ols, and baganis, as well as find new truths about the existence of these creatures.

“Janus Silang 1 to 3” is available at Adarna House, Fully Booked, and National Bookstore.

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“Trese 1 to 6” by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo

Solve numerous cases with Alexandra Trese in these graphic novels, which involve various mythological creatures, such as the kapre, duwende, nuno, manananggal, higante, multo, aswang, tikbalang, tiyanak, and engkanto, but with an interesting twist. These creatures are not your normal villains. Instead they are your everyday criminals with drug dens and kidnapping rings who also appear as regular people, offering to buy you a drink or perhaps challenging you to a race.

“Trese 1 to 6” is available at National Bookstore, Visprint, Inc., and Fully Booked.

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“Tabi Po 1 to 3” by Mervin Malonzo

“Tabi Po” is a masterpiece. It does not only contain vibrant and beyond beautiful illustrations, but it also has a story that revolves around aswangs, lamang-lupa, or maligno during the Spanish colonial period. Inside these graphic novels, you will meet characters you’ve already met in Jose Rizal's “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” These graphic novels are worth numerous rereads.

“Tabi Po 1 to 3” is available at mervstore.com and National Bookstore, Fully Booked. Read online: http://www.tabi-po.com/.

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“The Girl Between Two Worlds” by K. M. Levis

In this book, the main character, Karina, is fascinated with reading about Filipino folklore tales and stories about mythological creatures.  Inside one of her books, she gathers information about creatures like the wakwak, nuno sa punso, tiyanak, manananggal, kapre, tikbalang, sirena, syokoy, duwende, and engkantos. Not only does she discover that these creatures may not be as fictional as she thinks they are, she learns that she may actually be one of them. The best part of this book is that it contains illustrations of these creatures, with the creatures’ respective descriptions, their origins, who or what they prey on, and how to defeat them.

“The Girl Between Two Worlds” is available at National Bookstore and Anvil Publishing House.

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“Sa Kasunod ng 909” by Edgar Calabia Samar

More than just a story about magicians and manananggals, this novel questions the hatred of humans towards the creatures, and how they have labelled them as monsters when manananggals are also humans, but with greater abilities.

“Sa Kasunod ng 909” is available at UST Publishing House.