October 16, 2018

An Encantado Tale Told in Santo Tomas in 1925

Image source:  Celtic Fairy Music on YouTube.
Image source:  Celtic Fairy Music on YouTube.
[In this article: Batangas, Santo Tomas Batangas, encantado, engkantado, magic, supernatural, old tales, Batangas tales]
From an ethnographic paper written by one Aurora R. Hernandez, presumably of the soon-to-be city of Santo Tomas in Batangas, we get a story likely told in the town back in the year 1925 and earlier. The paper is part of the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collection1 and is about an encanto or encantado who became love-struck with a human.

Translated from Spanish into English, the word encanto means a charm or a spell. In Filipino mythology, however, the encanto or, in its Tagalog spelling, engkanto or variant engkantado is an environmental or elemental spirit that is believed to have the ability to take human form. These spirits are believed to be able to bring either malignance or good luck, depending on the circumstance of their interaction with humans.2.

Modernity has not completely eradicated the Batangueños’ belief in these engkantos, and it is not uncommon to get video reports in the regional news from time to time of their alleged manifestations or interactions with human beings.

Hernandez’s encanto story is provided in its totality below, edited for grammar and broken into paragraphs for the reader’s convenience and annotated whenever necessary.
THE ENCANTADO
By Aurora R. Hernandez

In the olden days, there lived in the underworld men who were supposed to do good or evil upon human beings. Being a man of the underworld, he can roam about [presumably, above ground or in the human world]. They are thought of to be roaming about in the evening just after sunset and during shower days [It is unclear what Hernandez meant by “shower days,” but perhaps she meant on days when it rained or showered.]

People of old naturally or usually had the notion that they should not sweep at night on the ground for surely these people of the underworld would get angry and bring evil upon the family. In one of the rumbles of the underworld, he [presumably one such man from the underworld or an encantado] saw a beautiful lady the name of Trinidad, who was nicknamed Trining.

The encantado fell in love with Trining and began wooing her. At night after the sun had set, this encantado came out and spoke to Trining. Trining was afraid and naturally would not heed the words of the encantado. She only prayed that the encantado would [not] come and stop following her.

But instead of the discontinuance of the encantado [i.e. of her following Trining], he became more and more insistent and went as far as following her anywhere she went. The ceaseless following of the encantado made her more frightful than ever. Finally, she thought of not leaving the house.

Weeks and months passed and he continued wooing. He expressed her, “Love me and I shall give you all my treasures and everything that I possess and above all will make my queen. You will sit upon the throne and be attended [to] by all my servants. All your wishes shall be granted. You will never know want. Promise me only that you will follow me to my house.”

Trining did not say a word and the encantado, tired of all that he was doing, said, “If you don’t marry me, I shall molest you and your family so that none I shall see.” [None I shall see is not clear at all.] Trining became frightened of these words and told her mother about them.

Her mother begged of her to accept the suit [i.e. the marriage proposal] of the encantado and said the same words over and over again. At last, Trining said, “I agree with your proposal.” No sooner had she uttered these words when a handsome young man appeared in the house and claimed her. They were all surprised to see the young man and her mother consented to the wedding.

Then, he promised that he would give them his treasures and would bring Trining to his palace where everything was gold – food, delicacies and so forth, are served to her in golden dishes. Then, she sat upon the throne and became the queen of the encantado household.
As with similar stories of the Otley-Beyer collection, this one, particularly the ending, sounds shallow and leaves a lot to be desired. These stories are included in Batangas History nonetheless because they are otherwise completely forgotten. In other encantado stories that this writer used to hear when he was young, humans were generally admonished never to accept such proposals from encantados or enter his domain, otherwise they would be stuck there forever and never see other humans again. Presumably, that was what happened to Trining as well.

Notes and references:
1Magic Tales from Santo Tomas,” by Aurora R. Hernandez, written 1925, part of the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippine Digital Collections.
2Engkanto,” Wikipedia.

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