The Weirdest Superstitions of the Philippines Still Alive Today

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Any country in the world has its share of wild and crazy superstitions depending on its culture and history. There are common ones, such as a black cat usually considered as bad luck, or when you pick up a penny on the road, it’s a sign of good luck.

In the Philippines however, there are several superstitions that are out of this world and even completely illogical, yet many people still follow them. Superstitions are such an important part of the Philippine culture that up until today, Filipinos religiously follow them and consider them a part of their own spirituality. They are an extension of Philippine religious practice, and though not officially part of religious teachings, they are treated as a required part of spiritual or religious practice.
There are, over hundreds of superstitions unique to the Philippines, but here are just a few of the more interesting ones:

Manananggal (A Man-eating Witch)

Manananggal, a man-eating witch. Philippines.

Manananggal, a man-eating witch. Philippines.

One of the most famous ghosts which many believe in, especially in the Visayas region of the Philippines. The witch (usually a woman) is said to be cut in half at the waist, bearing large vampire-like wings. Pregnant women are said to be the most in danger against the Manananggal.

In the province of Capiz, local folk claim to see this ghost occasionally up until this day and constantly place garlic (and sometimes salt) by their bedside, which is said to ward off the ghost.

Cross-Shaped Houses

Probably the most ironic out of all of the superstitions in the Philippines is having a cross-shaped house, especially if you live in the Tagalog region of the Philippines. A cross-shaped house would attract bad spirits and place a jinx on it. As a primarily Catholic country with churches that are cross-shaped, this is probably the weirdest superstition that many Filipinos still follow.

Palm Fronds

Palm fronds in the Philippines.

Palm fronds in the Philippines. Photo by: metro.co.uk

A superstition that gives more meaning to Catholic belief is the placement of blessed palm fronds in different areas of the house to ward off evil spirits. Yearly, during Palm Sunday masses, Filipinos bring palm fronds with them which they wave high in the air in front of the priest. The priest then blesses the palm fronds with holy water.
A single person would usually be holding at least two palm fronds, one in each hand, because the more fronds you have, the more weapons you have against evil spirits which you can place in entrances around your house.

Usog (Filipino Evil Eye)

Though rarely followed in modern times, it is quite interesting to mention Usog. Usog is the term coined for the superstition wherein if a stranger greets an unborn child still in the belly of a woman, it would bring illness and disease to the child when it is born. A stranger greeting an unborn child that they do not know was said to be an ‘evil eye hex’ placed on the child.

Decades ago, the only way to fix this was to ask the stranger to lick the belly of the pregnant woman or place his/her saliva on the belly. Thankfully, modern etiquette has stopped Filipinos from doing this to each other (or at least 90% of them).

Interestingly, despite modernization, the majority of Filipinos still believe in these superstitions. For many, following or avoiding superstitions is part of their religious practice. Not doing so is immediately a precursor to bad luck. Moreover, superstitions in the Philippines are not merely sayings that bring good or bad luck, they make the spirituality and religion of each person more colorful, as they incorporate these superstitions into their daily lives.

Though there are some cities, such as the main hub of Metro Manila, that no longer give much attention to Filipino superstition, a large portion of the Philippines (especially in provinces) continue to do so as part of their religious and spiritual practices. Looking at its spirituality alone, the Philippines is truly a diverse and culturally rich country.

Ramon Casas
Spiritual Formator | Search-In of La Salle Green Hills, Philippines

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