Tikbalang The Philippine Demon Horse Commons.jpg
Title Tikbalang the demon horse
Description The Benevolent horse
Gender Male
Region Philippines
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Tikbalang (also written as Tigbalang, Tigbalan, or Tikbalan) is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in the mountains and forests of the Philippines. It is generally described as a tall, bony humanoid creature with disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down.[1] It has the head and feet of an animal, most commonly a horse. It is sometimes believed to be a transformation of an aborted fetus which has been sent to earth from limbo.[2]



Tikbalangs are said to scare travelers and lead them astray. Tikbalangs play tricks on travelers such that they keep on returning to an arbitrary path no matter how far he goes or where he turns. Supposedly this is counteracted by wearing one's shirt inside out.[3] Another countermeasure is to ask permission out loud to pass by or, not to produce too much noise while in the woods in order not to offend or disturb the tikbalang.

A superstition popular with the Tagalog of Rizal Province is that Tikbalangs are benevolent guardians of elemental kingdoms. They are usually found standing at the foot of large trees looking around for anyone who dare to bestow malignancy on their kingdom's territory.

A common saying has it that rain from a clear sky means Kinasal na si Irene.(Filipino, "a tikbalang is getting married".)[3] This was most likely derived from a similar Spanish proverb that claimed a witch was getting married when there was rain on a sunny day.

According to traditional folklore, the tikbalang can also transform itself into human form or turn invisible to humans. They like to lead travelers astray.[1]

Tikbalang are generally associated with dark, sparsely populated, foliage-overgrown areas, with legends variously identifying their abode as being beneath bridges, in Bamboo or Banana groves, and atop Kalumpang[4] or Balete trees.

Taming a tikbalang

By one account a tikbalang has a mane of sharp spines, with the three thickest of these being of particular importance. A person who obtains one of these spines can use them as an anting-anting (talisman) in order to keep the tikbalang as his servant. The tikbalang must first be subdued, however, by leaping onto it and tying it with a specially-prepared cord. The would-be-tamer must then hang on while the creature flies through the air, fighting madly to dislodge its unwelcome rider, until it is exhausted and acknowledges its defeat.[2]

In popular culture


  • Within the Lemegeton the 55th goetic spirit Orobas has the physical appearance of a tikbalang.
  • X-Men and Wetworks illustrator Whilce Portacio has created a comic book series called Stone: The Awakening, which features Filipino legendary creatures, including the tikbalang.
  • A tale including a tikbalang appears in When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe. The wise creature mentors a young Filipino man who can see ghosts that haven't yet passed on.
  • A tikbalang is the antagonist of the issue "Rules of the Race" in the comic Trese, where it engages in street races with unwitting drivers.[6]
  • Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan is a child-friendly telling of the Tikbalang mythos - written by Victoria Añonuevo, illustrated by Kora Dandan-Albano and released by Adarna House - intended to familarize young Filipino audiences with Philippine Mythological creatures. In the story, a Tikbalang becomes lonely for lack of a playmate during the full moon, a time when Filipino children of generations past traditionally went out to play in the moonlight. In search for a playmate, the Tikbalang leaves his home in the Kalumpang tree and encounters first a Kapre, then a Nuno, an Aswang, and a Tiyanak, before he finally meets another Tikbalang as a suitable playmate.[4]


  • The 2008 film Dayo features the Tikbalang as one of the main creatures of the story.


  • The Filipino hardcore band, Tame the Tikbalang is named after this creature, and the common motiff of "taming" one.

Video games

  • The popular MMORPG World of Warcraft features a character named "Griftah" who sells an amulet called an "Infallible Tikbalang Ward". The accompanying text states, "With this trusty warding talisman, no tikbalang will ever find you and steal you away to the treetops. It really works!" When an item in World of Warcraft is said to "really work", it seldom does; naturally, tikbalangs are not found in the game.
  • In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, Tikbalang is a rare monster belonging to the Tauri family (demonic humanoids composed of various animal parts, capable of inflicting a lethal curse if you do not avert your eyes.)

See also


  • Blair, Emma Helen; Edward Gaylord Bourne, James Alexander Robertson, John Boyd Thacher (1905). The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803. The A. H. Clark company. pp. 269–270. ASIN B000858BO4. [1]
  • Bergaño, Diego (1860) (in Spanish). Vocabulario de la lengua Pampangan en romance. Ramirez y Giruadier. pp. 254. [2]

Additional reading


  1. ^ a b Eugenio, Damiana L. (2008). Philippine Folk Literature: An Anthology. University of the Philippines Press. pp. 247. ISBN 9789715425360. http://books.google.com/?id=VPj2HIYXjYgC&pg=PA247&dq=tikbalang. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  2. ^ a b de los Reyes, Isabelo (1890) (in Spanish). El Folk-Lore Filipino. Imprenta de Santa Cruz. pp. 66–69. ISBN 9715420389. 
  3. ^ a b Micha F. Lindemans (July 1, 1998). "Tikbalang". Encyclopedia Mythica. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/t/tikbalang.html. Retrieved 2006-01-12. 
  4. ^ a b Añonuevo, Victoria; Kora Dandan-Albano (2004). Ang Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan (A Book in 2 Languages). Quezon City: Adarna House, Inc. ISBN 9715082505. 
  5. ^ Lourd de Veyra (4th Quarter, 1999). "Gen X Meets Tikbalang". FLY Magazine. http://www.arnold-arre.com/interviews/genXmeetstik.html. Retrieved 2006-01-12. 
  6. ^ Tan, Budjette. "Case 2: Rules of the Race." Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. Illust. Kajo Baldisimo. Pasay City: Visual Print, 2008.

External links

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