Native Filipino Beliefs

The Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation on account of 300 years of Spanish rule. It is estimated that 81% of the population is Roman Catholic. In the south on the large island of Mindanao, many are adherents of Islam. Filipino Muslims make up about five percent of the national population.

Animism or folk religion encompassing indigenous spiritual traditions from pre-colonial times still prevail even among baptized members of formal churches. Superstitious beliefs are widespread.

TAGALOG TERMS RELATED TO NATIVE FILIPINO BELIEFS

pamahiin
superstition

anito
an idol representing a spirit that is usually friendly if properly assuaged

aswang
a ghost; a malevolent spirit that acts with capriciousness so people don’t even try to assuage it

babaylan
an intermediary with the spirit world; in pre-Spanish society, this was often a woman, though men were not uncommon

Bathala
in pre-Spanish society, a conceptualization for a superior being; with Filipinos then believing in several gods, this term may only have been applied to the most powerful

erbularyo (from the Spanish herbolario)
a person skilled in combining herbs to cure illness and ward off evil spirits

manananggal
the Filipino equivalent of a beautiful vampire; a type of aswang; her upper body detaches and flies off with large wings