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Mangkukulam from Filipino Folklore

Read "Dwende" in Tagalog

What is a Dwende?

A dwende, or 'old man on the mound'is a dwarf creature who lives in the woods, in an anthill or old houses in a remote areas. The dwende resembles a very small, old man with a long beard and they love to wear big hats.

These tiny creatures show themselves only to a few people, often when they seem to like you. Some dwende live in an old house. It is believed that they often shows to children and play with them. It is often told that they live in a paradise full of gold. Dwende are famous for hoarding things and it is often said that if you have lost something from your house, it is possible that it may have been taken by a dwende. But don't worry!  It will show up by the time you stop looking for it.

Dwende are believed to like people, especially women. They took her to their paradise. The body will be left unconscious. Most of the time they come to visit, very playfully according to their mood.  Others say, they won’t let you eat, don’t talk, sluggish, until you get ill.

There are playful dwende. Once you are in the forest you should respect and very cautious too. They are living in the trees, mound, caves,rocks. Before passing by, to their inhabited areas, you should ask permission, by saying ‘’tabi tabi po, makikiraan po’’ or ‘’please let me pass.’’ By doing this means you are giving respect to unseen creatures.

They get angry if a trespasser destroyed or damaged their mound or the dwende itself. The offender will then experience pain or swollen in any part of his body, illness that cannot be cured by the modern medicine. An albularyo or herbal doctors are often called to help cure the victim. They use herbal medicinal plants and food offering.

Different Types of Dwende

There are good and evil dwende. These invisible dwarves seem to be represented by different colours depending on their character.  Evil dwende are red.  If you have an evil, red dwende living in your house, it can be very bad.  The best way to remove them is to perform a ritual that can be carried out by an albularyo (healer or herbal doctors).

Good dwende are represented as white in colour and can be useful to have around the place.  They can protect the place that they live in.

Always Pay Respect To Dwende

Like human, dwende or any unseen creatures requires respect.

A lot of people in Philippines are quite worried about the possibility of hurting or offending Dwende, especially because of their powers to curse humans.  It is very easy to offend them because they are invisible so it is very difficult to know if they are around at an inconvenient moment.  Therefore, many Filipinos like to say "excuse me" before peeing or before throwing away dirty water, through fear that it might land on the head of the dwende and upset him.  At least he has been warned, right?

And as they say, ‘’Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.’’

Stories and Comments about Dwende

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#2: Guest #51 (Judith) - at 16:34 on 12 Mar 2014

There was a "punso" under the floor of the elevated bed room in our old house. My mother believed that "dwende" living near the house brings "swerte " to the family. For living there before in many years nothing change, we didn't become rich.

#1: Guest #44 (Sandy) - at 07:34 on 11 Mar 2014

My Dad had a dwende under a tree in his farm.