FFE Magazine


Another terrifying creature of Philippine folklore, and one of the most well-known, is the Tiyanak. A Tiyanak is a scary monster with vampiric qualities and disguises itself as a normal baby. It also mimics the baby’s cries to attract the attention of unwary passersby. Once it successfully lures a stranger to pick it up, the Tiyanak will turn into its real scary form and attack the poor victim.


The Tiyanak is similar to the Western vampire because it also eats its victims’ inner organs and drinks their blood.


Physical features of the Tiyanak:



Tiyanak, demon baby of Philippine folklore


The tiyanak might look like a normal baby at first, but once it lures its victim to pick it up, it transforms into a monster with long claws, sharp fangs, and demonic eyes. A really scary sight!


The origin of the Tiyanak:


The Tiyanak has many origins but the most commonly-known is it came from unbaptized dead babies or aborted fetuses. This belief started after the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines during the 16th century and the Christianization of most of the Filipinos.


Before the Spanish colonization however, the Mandaya people of Mindanao believe that the Tiyanak is just the spirit of a child whose mother died during childbirth.


Another version of the origin of the Tiyanak in the province of Pampanga however is, it is a small, brown person who floats on air and have large nose, large fierce eyes, big mouth, and sharp voice.



The Pontianak from Malaysian folklore

A mythological creature from Malaysia and Indonesia, the pontianak, is closely related to the original belief of what a Tiyanak is. The Malay and Indo pontianak is the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth.


How can Tiyanak be driven away?



 Like the Aswang, a vampire-like monster, the Tiyanak is said to be driven away by garlic and rosary.


Very loud noises are also said to easily drive the Tiyanak away.


Media appearances:


The Tiyanak has been featured in many local horror movies and in some television programs.


The 1953 black and white Tiyanak was the first film to feature the monster baby.


Watch the trailer for the 2007 movie Tiyanaks starring Jennylyn Mercado and Mark Herras:




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