Tales of the Supernatural
Tales of Laughter
Tales of Heroism

What is Filipino Folklore?

Dr. Damiana Eugenio, a renowned Filipina folklorist, says there is still no universally accepted definition of the word "folklore". But any bit of knowledge handed down from generation to generation, which describes or depicts the beliefs and lifestyle of the ancestors of a chosen ethnic group, is rendered unique to that group, and is respected as folklore.

Folklore is usually transmitted by word of mouth. Oral traditions are very common among the indigenous tribes still existent in the Philippines. What students of folk literature do, basically, is transcribe and interpret what is related to them by the storytellers of a tribe. The preservation of the knowledge of our elders can be carried out in many ways, and they are not inaccessible to anyone who would seek them.

Recently, interest in folklore seems to have diminished. With the swift pace of modern living, looking back at our roots through spyglasses such as the study of folklore seems more and more difficult, if not pointless. The Filipino youth, especially, are more concerned with looking forward as the rest of the world hastens toward a technological future. We do not want to be left behind, after all. But if we were never meant to look back, why does the ancient saying "Ang siyang di lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makararating sa paroroonan (Whoever does not look back at a starting point, will not arrive at a destination)" remain in our lips? Why do we remind ourselves of the necessity of stopping to pay respect to our forebears and the advice they could still give?

This website is dedicated to the presentation – or, should I say, representation – of native Filipino folklore. It aims to favor the lore of no particular ethnic group, as everyone is aware of the diversity of tribal affiliations still present in our everyday lives. It means to declare that the tales spun during one tribe’s journey through life and time are no longer for the enjoyment and convenience of the members of that tribe alone, but for the whole world.

It also does not intend to evoke rivalry among ethnic affiliations. Sometimes closely-related versions of a single story exist in the lore of two or more ethnic groups, and a sort of discord is brought about when some groups attempt to "reclaim the rights" to the plot. It is hoped that the topographical areas attributed to particular tales would only serve to be references for study and not argument. At any rate, contributed variations of any tale presented in this site are welcome.

We shall endeavor to keep on adding as many stories to this site as we can. But for the moment let us all look back and see what we have done.

This site divides Philippine folklore into five major parts, namely:

Myths and Legends
Tales of the Supernatural
Heroic Tales
Tales of Laughter

Myths are tales involving the gods of old. They may deal with a conflict among the gods themselves, or ways in which the gods would reveal themselves as unique characters unto the lowly creatures of the Earth, including, of course, man. Legends of creation usually involve spirits or gods, or just an omnipotent God. At any rate, almost every legend involves a miracle or curse invoked in the name of, or by the hand of, a Higher Power.

Generally, fables are short narratives that revolve around particular moral lessons. Animals are the heroes in most fables. They are made to stand for certain traits of the human race, and to teach the ways of the world through vivid characterization and lively interaction.

The supernatural involves the fair folk, dwarves, mermaids, demons, strange beasts – and other phenomena. Tales of divine intervention are included here, as they are also classified as unexplainable.

Heroes adventure and gather the fruits of their labor and Fate. These tales have inspired the Filipinos to aspire for the greatest since the dawn of time.

And, finally, what is a Filipino if he does not know how to laugh? Tales of laughter insist on having a separate category. Moral lessons are sometimes scattered about…though most of the time, stories in this area had been created and are handed down for the sole purpose of having fun.