June 21, 2011

Hari Ragat: Haunters of the Jungle II

Even more sinister denizens of the jungle …

The tiyanak is an evil spirit that can mimic a person, often a child or woman known to the victim.  By imitating voices, the tiyanak makes the victim believe it is a person in need of help, and so draws the victim within its reach.  It then ambushes the victim and devours his entrails. 

It is believed that tiyanak are the spirits of stillborn babes; they are essentially the ‘wild’ form of the tuyol, a homunculus created from the body and soul of a stillborn child.

Cannibal Sorcerers
Some sorcerers have broken the ultimate taboo – they gain spiritual power by consuming human flesh, preferably that of virgin women.  Inevitably fleeing their homes in order to survive and keep their secret, they take to living in the jungle, periodically kidnapping villagers or ambushing hunters and travelers for their flesh.  (Inspired by a documentary I saw on Crime Asia, where a rogue bomoh became a serial murderer supposedly to gain spiritual powers.)

Undead Huntsman
Legends tell of an evil hunter who was possessed by evil spirits.  After committing a string of murders, he was eventually murdered in turn by his wife and son so they could escape his clutches.  Several nights later, however, the hunter reappeared and carried off his family from the village where they had sheltered.

The undead monster then disappeared into the jungle, but is said to turn up near villages ever so often to commit gruesome murders.  His hunting skills make him very stealthy, and he is deadly with spear and bolo. It is impossible to permanently kill this monster; it may be that some diwata holds the secret to undoing a curse or magical spell that allows him to keep coming back from the dead.

(Inspired by a ghost story related to me by a friend from Iloilo.)

These are men who can turn into crocodiles at will, and harbor a secret hunger for human flesh.  Were-crocodiles will almost always be river fishermen or boatmen in their human guise, as they need to be in or near water to transform.

Poison Demons
Poison demons, sometimes called nabulit, are the spirits of men who died of snakebite and were not given proper funerals.  They return to life as hateful monsters, permeated with poison that contaminates everything they breathe upon.  A kind of human basilisk.

Demon Warriors
A long time ago, a pirate armada from far away invaded the Jangalan Isles and for a brief time established a kingdom there.  Their cruelty was legendary, and caused the warring Vijadesan chiefs to unite against them.  The pirate kingdom was crushed, but some of the pirates fled into the jungle and disappeared there.

In the depths of the jungle these stragglers were warped by their evil into undead, demonic monsters, eternally wandering to prey on humans and terrorize their ancient foes.  A demon warrior wears scraps of strange clothing and armor, rotting from centuries in the jungle, and carries a long curved sword.  They are very hard to kill.

They can however be laid to rest by a priest from their own land.  Fetching such a priest is an epic quest in itself, for the voyage to the pirates’ homeland is long and fraught with perils.  (Inspired of course by Japanese stragglers left in the Philippines after Word War II).

Hmmm, I’m seeing a trend here … humans warped after death. I think I’m going to take in the Buddhist belief that evil humans can  become demons and use that in Hari Ragat.

Evil shapeshifters that feed on human entrails and life force.  Living as normal humans by day, aswang can transform themselves at will into an animal form, often a flying one. 

There are many kinds, each with their own proper name.  Some devour their victims like predators, while others are like parasites, slowly leeching life force from various members of a community until the victims die a seemingly natural death.

There are however some commonalities between aswang types:

  • They are usually women;

  • Their alternate forms are always black in color;

  • Preferred alternate forms are a black bird of prey, a crow, a bat, a civet cat, a house cat, or a dog;

  • They prefer to prey on pregnant women and young children.

Aswang are the products of black magic, either worked on themselves, inherited from an aswang parent, or from a curse. The temptation to become an aswang is said to be particularly powerful for women born ugly, or entering old age; this because feeding off human life can give the aswang preternatural vigor and beauty. 

Once the foul rites making a woman an aswang have been done, however, the taint is permanently in her blood and becomes inheritable.  The female children of an aswang will be aswang themselves, and the male children carry the taint in their blood, such that it will resurface in their daughters.


  1. Love the Demon Warriors. Reminds me of my Stragglers.

    You've earned yourself a Jungle Alert!

  2. Incredible - highly evocative! Thank you for this insight.


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