Superstitions and Beliefs of the People of Batangas by Nieves Altamirano, 1915 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Superstitions and Beliefs of the People of Batangas by Nieves Altamirano, 1915 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Superstitions and Beliefs of the People of Batangas by Nieves Altamirano, 1915

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1915 ethnographic paper written by one Nieves Altamirano from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.

Henry Otley-Beyer Collection

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Tagalog Paper No. 65.
(Folklore #175)
Nieves Altamirano
  1. TAGALOG: Lipa, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
  2. Social Customs: Beliefs: Folklore.

October 8, 1915 (last number of date blurred)

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Nieves Altamirano.

The people of Batangas Province, especially those uneducated ones living in the barrios, have their superstitions and beliefs which they have learned from their ancestors. These may be more or less similar to those beliefs in other parts of the islands, but their interpretations may differ to a less degree.

As to their superstitions and beliefs, there are what they call good and evil dreams, i.e. dreams which foretell happiness and prosperity, and those which foretell misfortunes and discontentment.

As to the good ones, they say that if one dreams of a snake somewhere around the house, he will be successful in his commercial activities and will secure great wealth. If it was a dream of water, especially if he was taking a bath in the sea or in a river, he will be successful in his love affairs if he or she is single, and if he or she is married, there would be no harm on his or her part being deceived by the husband or wife. Dreams of tempest foretell the return of a friend from foreign lands. Dreams of an army returning victorious bring good luck. Dreams of some hardship in school foretell success in the examination. Dreams of the death of some relatives foretell the long lives of those relatives.

As to the bad dreams, they say that if one dreams of losing a tooth, or of a fire in the vicinity, someone from the

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family will die. Dreams of an army returning defeated foretell calamity and that danger is before them. Dreams of wine poured from the cup to the tablecloth foretell an engagement to be broken. Dreams of a plate broken into pieces foretell a scarcity of the production of crops in the coming harvest. Dreams of sour fruit foretell great disappointments in the future. Dreams of medicine foretell that someone in the family will become sick. Dreams of hearing the church bell foretell the death of a near relative.

But their superstitions and beliefs were not only based on dreams but also on the sounds and noises they hear. They said that if a dog is heard barking at night when nobody passes by and there is a sick person in the house where the dog belongs, the sick person will sooner or later die. When a cock is heard crowing at midnight and no other cocks answer, the person who owns this cock will be successful in any enterprise he may choose within one week. If, at midnight when everything is quiet, someone else hears the air vibrating in a musical tone, someone in the family will elope. A bird heard singing in the field very early in the morning when the plants are beginning to grow foretell the abundance of crop in the coming harvest. When dogs bark furiously at night and pigs, goats and horses seem disturbed and frightened, people believe that they are visited or frightened by a tigbalang (a kind of spirit which they said has a foot as human foot, and the other one as horse foot). If a member of the family is sick, they tried to make him silent, otherwise at midnight when everything is quiet, the aswang (spirit who eats the liver of the sick persons) will visit.

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him, and by the power of sight to penetrate even the floors of the house and the skin of the person, it (spirit) will be able to get to the sick person’s liver without producing any noise, thus leaving the person dead. From this, they infer that this is the reason why sometimes a sick person is found dead when his or her companions awake in the morning.

However, these people also believe mostly on which they see. If a cat is seen washing its face and this cat happens to face the door of the house, there will be some visitors from neighboring towns or barrios; but if this cat happens to face the street or stairs, they say that someone in the house will elope or escape. If when walking they find a horseshoe on their way, good luck is before them. If, instead, they see a snake, they must return home at once for danger is before them. If there is a sick person in the house, and they see a black bird flying about the roof at night or black butterfly flying about the room of the sick person, this patient will die.

In regard to their belief and superstitions in what they smell, I know only one and their belief in this is very wrong. They say that if they smell the odor of a burning candle and after inquiring from their neighbors and people around the house, they are told that there had been no candle lighted, they are sure that a relative living in a distant place is dead or will soon die.

While in a voyage, they observe strict regulations which if violated will either cause them danger and even death. These

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regulations are especially followed when they are to embark in bancas to go fishing or hunting around the Taal Lake where the waters and mountains are enchanted and guarded by gods and evil spirits. They said that if they went to fish and they see numerous fishes under the water, they must be quiet without uttering a word, otherwise they will not be able to catch any and heavy rain will fall. In fishing, they want to bring some food to be thrown to the water to be used as food by those spirits inhabiting the water.

While hunting, they must not say anything they see. Even if one finds or sees a snake or a bird, if it is a bird and he wants to shoot it he may do so without telling his companions what he sees, otherwise heavy rain; thunder and lightning will come, and the waves will be such that they will not be able to return home until after a few days. If it is a snake, he must not kill it but leave it unharmed, otherwise other big snakes and beasts will come and scare them.

If they see some delicious fruits in the forest while hunting, they must not say how delicious these fruits are but they must pick them quietly and eat them if they care to, otherwise if they utter words, those fruits may harm them. They believe that the water, forests and mountains are guarded and inhabited by spirits which do no harm to the people who keep silent, but revenge to those who make noise and disturb the quietness of nature. These spirits are believed to be invisible during the day, but the people said that at midnight, especially

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when it is full moon and they go near the beach, they see princes and princesses, dressed in golden garments and seen sparkling, and riding on a golden victoria pulled by two golden horses, which are passing on the water as if the water were a solid body. They said that these are not seen if two or more person watch for them but that he must be alone. If by wonder he happens to utter a word, those will disappear instantly. At present they say that they do not see these anymore, because probably they had moved to another place, leaving the other minor spirits which are supposed to be their descendants behind, but remain invisible all the time.

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Superstitions and Beliefs of the People of Batangas,” by Nieves Altamirano, 1915, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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