Welcome to the H-Files, a limited-edition mini-series we host from time to time. This mini series features paranormal stories that are based more on folklore and family history than first-hand accounts. Today’s guest, Sapphire Sandalo, tells us many tales of paranormal creatures you just might encounter if you venture into the dark Philippine forests. Filipino folklore galore!

Listen to “H Files Episode 8: Manananggal, Engkanto, and Duwende, Oh My!” on Spreaker.

Episode Summary

Never heard about all the fantastical mystical creatures living among the balete trees in the Philippines? Well, you’re in for a treat. Sapphire shares the bizarre details of her family’s history with the paranormal which, thanks to a rash of overly-chill babysitters, is quite extensive. From the manananggal that stalked her grandfather; the menehune who entertained her uncle; the exorcism of Baby, lured by engkanto; to the duwende that possessed her cousin, this collection of stories just couldn’t have coalesced anywhere else.

About Sapphire Sandalo

Multitalented artist Sapphire is a Filipino-American creator, host, animator, and podcaster based out of LA. Her work includes such varied things! Check out her videos, Stories with Sapphire. Then, stream her paranormal podcast, the Something Scary Podcast. Don’t forget to watch the web series Toon Buzz on Channel Frederator. There’s just too much awesomeness to cite everything here, so may we suggest you check out her website. Assuming you’re here because you like ghosts and spooky storytelling, we think you’ll love everything she does.

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Episode Show Notes

Duwende and art

Tabi-tabi po, please do not tread on the little people who live in the anthills. Duwende (or duende) refers rather broadly to several mythical small creatures/paranormal beings. And seemingly unrelatedly, if you’ve ever been so moved by a work of art that you have a passionate physical reaction (crying or the like; get your mind out of the gutter), it is the duende that possesses you (although in a far less literal sense than Sapphire’s tita spoke of). Both concepts arose from the Spanish phrase dueño/duen de casa or “master of the house.” Quite possibly, the creature duwende is a parable that reminds us we do not truly own the land, but must coexist with it. Perhaps the artistic concept of tener duende is a parable that reminds us that we do not truly comprehend the full nature of our own emotion, but must coexist with it.

If you would like to listen to a fabulous podcast about the artistic role of the duende, and how this concept relates to other artistic muses, please take a listen to this episode by Starling.

Engkanto: trickster spirits of folklore, or ominous heralds of colonialism?

If a gorgeous Scandinavian woman invites you back to her place, and that place turns out to be a balete tree, be on guard. There’s a chance she’s an engkanto, a kind of trickster spirit that will lure you to them with their beauty, accept a commitment or gift, then drain your energy or steal your soul. Having an engkanto living in a tree near your house can be good luck, but if one tries to proposition you, steer clear.

Is the tiqui the same as a manananggal?

The manananggal is like a vampire, in that it sprouts bat wings when it attacks, and drinks human blood. A little less vampirically, it also performs gruesome navel abortions with it’s eel-like, razor-tipped tongue. It also leaves its bottom half behind to fly through the night; intestines flapping behind like a horrible gory kite tail. We have a suspicion it inspired the short story “Geraldine” by Ian McDowell in the anthology Love In Vein, edited by Poppy Z Brite (one of our favorites from high school).

Morris the Cat at the Crescent Hotel

Diana begins the episode by talking about her recent trip to the Crescent Hotel where she caught something on camera. Could it be the spirit of Morris the cat? Check out the photos, taken only a moment apart, on Facebook.

Until next time, have a spooky day!