Oh my God! Ang anak ni Janice!


Described in Tagalog and Bicolano folklore as a small bald-headed goblin with sharp teeth, pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, and disproportionate legs (the left leg is shorter while the right one in unusually longer). It disguises itself as a baby abandoned in the forest or in the field. It wails loudly to attract a passerby and when picked up it sheds its disguise like a snake shedding its old skin, revealing its true form, and kills the victim by biting and mauling. Various speculations on how Tiyanaks came to be range from babies born dead in the forest to the Catholic-influenced unbaptized stillborn infants, and later extended to vengeful murdered infants and aborted fetuses.


Belief in the Tiyanak may have originated from the Patianak of the Mandaya tribe in Mindanao, when Islam started to spread north before the arrival of the Spanish. The ancient natives in the south revered the Patianak as a lesser nature spirit associated with the soil and rice fields similar to the Nuno sa Punso of the Tagalogs. With its name meaning “lord child”, offerings during planting and harvesting seasons were made in rice fields in honor of the Patianak to ensure the health of the crops and a bountiful harvest. Those who passed by an area believed to be inhabited by the creature whispered excuses for safe passage or risk being assaulted by its diminutive inhabitant. The image of the Tiyanak gradually changed in Luzon. From a semi-benevolent being, the northern version - also known as Patianak in some parts of Bicol and Pampanga - was portrayed in most tales as a fiendish blood-sucker and man-eater in the forest. With the arrival of Catholicism, the creature became a demon, later coined Impacto or Impakto, and tormentor of those who refused the Catholic faith. Interestingly, it could also be possible that belief in the Tiyanak might have been influenced if not introduced by Spanish missionaries, especially those from Mexico, who were intent on converting the natives into Catholics. The Aztecs of Mexico believed in a small creature called Chaneque (sounds like, right?). According to stories the Chaneque looked like small, wrinkly old men and women who lurked in the jungle. These creatures, both feared and revered, were notorious for stealing the souls of those who strayed into their domain. The only way to recover the soul is for the victim to undergo a specific ritual, otherwise he will fall ill and die. The Chaneque were also known to lead people astray, making the victims wander mindless around the jungle for days. When the conquistador Hernan Cortez finally subdued the Aztecs, the belief in the Chaneque was modified by the friars to sway the natives into Catholic faith. They speculated that a Chaneque was the result of the devil possessing an unbaptized stillborn child, causing it to return as a child demon that preyed on those who wandered into the jungle - a speculation shared by Filipino belief. Later it was believed that in order to escape the Chaneque one must wear his shirt inside-out - a practice also popular in Philippine folklore. With the exception of the Tiyanak’s ability to disguise itself as a baby, some striking similarities with the Chaneque suggest a possible link between the two  creatures.

Related creatures

Aside from the Patianak, there are other similar creatures in southern Philippine folklore associated with the Tiyanak. The Muntianak of the Bagobos, whose name means “small child” is the spirit of a child who died while still in the womb during childbirth. After coming back to life as a hideous little creature, it makes the forest its home and harasses or kills those who pass by. The Tagakalao tribe of Davao believe in the Mantianak, a bearded incarnation of an infant who, together with its mother, died during childbirth in the forest. Pregnant women who heard its wails suffered miscarriage. Later origin stories of this creature include raped and murdered women reincarnated as wraiths to take revenge on all men, mutilating and devouring their penis. The later association of the Mantianak to dead women is shared by its Malaysian counterpart, also called Mantianak which is an avenging ghost of a woman who died while giving birth. A creature almost similar to the later version of the Mantianak is the viscera-eating Pontianak of Indonesian folklore. A Pontianak is described as the vampiric ghost of a woman who died while pregnant. She disguises herself as a beautiful woman only to kill, mutilate, and even devour the men who approached her. High-pitched cries of a baby along with a fragrance followed by an awful stench indicate her presence.

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