The Filipino people have a diverse and multifaceted culture that spans thousands of years, and their mythology and rituals play a crucial role in shaping their identity. Consisting of various ethnic groups such as Tagalog, Ilocano, and Visayan, the Philippines is a melting pot of beliefs, deities, heroes, and mythological creatures. This article aims to provide an overview of the beliefs, mythology, and rituals of the Filipino people, focusing on the deities and stories, as well as unique beliefs and practices within the culture.

Deities in Filipino Mythology

  • Bathala: Bathala is the supreme deity in Tagalog mythology. He is the creator of the universe, the earth, and all living creatures. Often referred to as the "Sky Father," Bathala embodies wisdom, omnipotence, and the essence of life.

  • Kan-Laon: The Visayan supreme deity, Kan-Laon, is associated with time, creation, and fertility. He is believed to reside on Mount Kanlaon, a sacred place for the Visayan people, where he watches over the world and its inhabitants.

  • Kabunian: In Ilocano mythology, Kabunian is the supreme god and creator of all things. He is also considered the god of law and order, responsible for maintaining balance in the world.

Mythological Figures

  • Lam-Ang: A popular figure in Ilocano folklore, Lam-Ang is a warrior-hero who embarked on a journey to avenge his father's death. He is known for his extraordinary strength, courage, and resilience, as well as his ability to communicate with animals.

  • Maria Makiling: In Tagalog folklore, Maria Makiling is a diwata (a nature spirit or fairy) that protects Mount Makiling. She is associated with beauty, grace, and kindness, and is often depicted as a guardian of the environment and its inhabitants.

  • Bakunawa: In Visayan mythology, Bakunawa is a serpent-like dragon believed to cause eclipses by swallowing the sun or the moon. The Bakunawa is both feared and revered, symbolizing both destruction and renewal.

Unique Beliefs and Practices

  • Anito: Anito is the practice of ancestral worship, which is common among Filipino ethnic groups. It involves communicating with ancestral spirits and seeking their guidance through rituals, offerings, and prayers.

  • Babaylan: Babaylan is a term used to describe a shaman or spiritual leader in Filipino culture. These individuals are considered to possess powerful healing abilities, as well as the power to communicate with spirits and deities.

  • Aswang: The Aswang is a shape-shifting creature in Filipino folklore, often associated with malevolence and darkness. Aswangs are believed to feed on human and animal flesh, particularly pregnant women and infants. While they are feared, Aswangs also serve as a cautionary tale for the importance of community cohesion and vigilance.

Rituals in Filipino Culture

  • Kuraldal: Kuraldal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Sambal people in Zambales. The festival honors the goddess Liwayway, who is believed to bestow fertility and abundance. The celebration involves dancing, singing, and offering food and other gifts to the goddess.

  • Ati-Atihan: The Ati-Atihan Festival is an annual event held in Kalibo, Aklan, in honor of the Santo Niño, or the Child Jesus. The festival is marked by colorful parades, street dancing, and feasting, with participants painting their faces and bodies in black to imitate the appearance of the Ati people, the indigenous inhabitants of Panay Island. The festival serves as a celebration of cultural unity and religious devotion.

  • Pahiyas: Pahiyas is a vibrant and colorful festival celebrated in Lucban, Quezon, to honor San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. During the festival, locals decorate their homes with agricultural products such as rice, fruits, and vegetables, as well as colorful and intricately crafted kiping, leaf-shaped rice wafers. The Pahiyas Festival is a showcase of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and an expression of creativity and resourcefulness.