Google Is Not Everything…

Unbelievable Tales

Jhanessty Vaye Bautista | Maui High School, Class of 2024

October is celebrated as the National Filipino American History Month! While I agree with the idea of connecting and learning about the history of our country with our roots in America, I would love to explore the idea of Filipino superstitions and our mythological creatures! In our long list of stories about mythological creatures and the different superstitions, it has me wondering, where did this all originate?

Between personal experience, talking with the experts (my grandparents) and a quick search on Google, they all seem to originate from protection. The existence of these superstitions and creatures has kept us from fearing the unknown. Believing these creatures exist or doing certain things can harm us keeps us alert and safe in our everyday life.

Like I mentioned, there are many different stories about mythological creatures. I am sure the same follows with the context the different superstitions are used in. As the second generation of my family to be born in America—especially Hawai‘i—I hear different variations of sayings I grew up with every day from my peers. Every family tells a different tale, but I will be sharing the favorite superstitions of others and their experiences with the reasoning behind the same tale I grew up with.

First, my favorite superstition is “Do not walk over someone laying down on the ground or else the person on the ground will stop growing.” This saying is especially relevant to me because I believe people walked all over me. It is the only explanation to why I am a mere four feet and nine-ish inches while all my younger siblings and parents are quickly growing to be over five feet. Genetics and heredity tried their best but the Filipino superstition was just stronger. Obviously I am joking about that one but it does make me laugh.

My grandma is the one who always encourages me to follow these superstitions and to stay clear of these different creatures. I often overhear her telling my siblings “Alah, don’t do that before Mumu gets you!” The Mumu is the Philippine’s version of the boogeyman. In other folktales, the Mumu is also known as the popular creature: the Aswang. A shapeshifting monster. In my family, we believe the two are separate but seeing the photos of the Mumu on Google is quite terrifying and always kept my siblings out of trouble.

Ammylei Padilla
Janezza Haluber

Ammylei Padilla and Janezza Haluber both like the superstition “Don’t sleep with your hair wet.” Although this superstition is their favorite, Janezza believes it because of her mom’s insistence but Ammylei does not believe it and thinks it is really funny. Both learned about this superstition because of their family.

In my family, I was told if I were to sleep with my hair wet, I would become blind. It is an interesting take on the superstition but I do not entirely believe that it is untrue. Because the temperature is cooler at night, there is a greater risk of becoming sick. I am not exactly sure how it would make someone blind but I do believe not sleeping with our hair wet does keep us healthy.

Arianna Illustrisimo

Arianna Illustrisimo’s favorite superstition is “Don’t go straight home after attending a wake.” A wake is a social gathering that happens before a funeral. “In the context of a wake, it means going elsewhere after attending the wake before heading home to shake off the spirit of the deceased lest it follows you home,” Arianna explains. Arianna learned this superstition from her grandparents, her Filipino club and by reading online articles.

This superstition is not unbelievable. A funeral is where they lay one’s body to rest but their soul and spirit are very lively. Immediately after a wake, you may feel sad, numb and so on. Not going directly home after attending a wake gives one the opportunity to take one’s mind off the event, consequently, letting the idea of the person rest in your mind.

Micah Mangisel

Lastly, I would like to speak about superstitions and creatures I personally have never grown up with. Micah Mangisel’s favorite superstition is to “Take off your bra before you sleep.” Because there is no scientific evidence and it feels like a ploy to scare her, she does not believe in the superstition.

I personally have never been told this but my mom and my aunties all reminisce on the moments they were told this exact superstition. They do not remember what the consequence of sleeping in your bra is but I assume it is because of the increased comfortability that can be achieved.

Cassandra Navarro

Cassandra Navarro’s favorite superstition includes a mythological creature. “Whenever it’s raining while the sun is out, a Tikbalang is getting married.” A Tikbalang is a creature with a human body and a horse head, a reversed minotaur. It is said these creatures hide in the mountains and rainforests to scare and play pranks on travelers. While Cassandra says she does not believe in the Tikbalang, she does believe in the Manananggal.

The Manananggal is a creature with wings that can split its body in half. It looks like a regular person during the day but when night arrives, it splits off to prey on pregnant women. It is a very scary creature to look at.

Looking into the deeper meaning of the superstition, I believe knowing these creatures are getting married in certain weather conditions discourages people from going out. This keeps people safe because rain often causes people to get sick. Knowing this superstition may scare people, and keep them inside, safe and dry!

While most of these superstitions seem unbelievable, and the creatures seem too good or too scary to be true, it does not mean they do not truly exist. It also does not mean logical reasoning cannot be applied when thinking about a different purpose for these beliefs.

Being safe and feeling protected is important. Most of our families are teaching us these beliefs and sayings to ensure such things. Sometimes it is difficult to read in between the lines but the true origination of these superstitions and folktales of creatures is rooted in the idea of togetherness. Bringing a community together through stories and keeping everyone safe in an unlikely way is something you see a lot of in our Filipino culture.

Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Jhanessty Vaye Bautista, a Senior at Maui High School. She is a President of Maui High’s Key Club, Vice-President of Maui High’s Filipino Cultural Club, Executive Secretary of Maui High’s Student Government, a member of Blue Thunder, Maui High’s Robotics club, and member of the National Honor Society. Jhanessty is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, focusing on graphic design and entrepreneurship. In her free time, she reads books of any and all genres, sketches out designs for her new graphics project, sings karaoke alone or with a group of her close family and friends and loves anything with the popular videogame’s Minecraft Bee. She is the daughter of Vanessa and Jhon Boy Bautista.