May 18, 2012

Haribon: the Lordly Philippine Eagle


Mindanao, a young male Philippine Eagle, mugs for a portrait at the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary in Malagos. 

Walk up close to this guy – he was on a perch about chest high to me when I photographed him – and you’ll get the feeling you’re really in the presence of one of the rain forest’s ancient and terrible lords.  This guy, sub-adult though he is, already has a wingspan of seven feet, and his talons have a grip ten times stronger than the average human’s. 


Which brings me to my Hari Ragat content for the day.  I can’t find any sources clearly identifying the legendary manaul, the sacred bird, but more than one artist has apparently taken the Philippine Eagle as their visual reference.  I’ll do the same, and there will certainly be manaul, or haribon, in the Hari Ragat setting.

Haribon, aka Manaul in Hari Ragat
This sacred bird is a large raptor, with a 6-8 foot wingspan, crested head, and plumage of  brown and white.  Vijadesan legend says that, while all other life was formed of the mixed blood of Aman Bathala and the Serpent, plus the primeval ooze at the bottom of the ocean, the haribon was formed from clay and Aman Bathala’s blood alone, without the Serpent’s taint. Thus this bird’s great spiritual power and purity, which is much harnessed by Vijadesan shamans.

Some bits of lore the Vijadesans hold true of the haribon/manaul include:

  • A manaul nesting nearby is a sign of good fortune and protection; evil spirits will not approach the nest site for a radius of several miles.  And should a manaul ever perch on the roof of one’s house, it presages death in a glorious battle.

  • Manaul mate for life, and it’s said if ever one of a pair is killed,  the other will rip its own heart out with its beak as soon as it knows, or if it has fledglings in the nest, as soon as the fledglings can fly.

  • A manaul’s feathers contain enough of its spirit essence to be useful in charms of purification and exorcism of evil spirits.

  • A manaul’s heart, when eaten, confers great spiritual power; however, killing a manaul is a crime punishable by death.

  • It is said the manaul cannot abide captivity; if ever one is captured, and not set free at once, it will rip open its own breast with its beak.  Again, capturing manaul is a crime punishable by death.

  • Eating a bite of meat from a haribon’s kill will allow one to understand the speech of birds for the rest of the day, for one day.  This meat must be eaten raw (it may be dried for future use, though; just don’t cook it).  Getting a bite from a haribon’s kill without breaking any of the laws around it should be a nice puzzle for the PCs.

As for combat stats – if your players are crazy enough to want to kill one – it should be about as formidable as a leopard, or maybe a wolf.  Well within the abilities of a capable warrior to take out.  It’s the consequences that should be scary.

How would you use a creature like this in your games?


  1. I'm thinking a village somewhere, close to a source of evil spirits. However a manaul pair nested close to the village, and thus the village is kept safe from the spirits. Unfortunately, one of the manaul recently died. Only the nestlings keep the survivor from killing itself.

    Can the players find a solution before the nestlings leave the nest?

  2. Sounds like a good adventure hook! Thanks!


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