A “True” Tigbalang Story Set in a Barrio of Lipa City - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore A “True” Tigbalang Story Set in a Barrio of Lipa City - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A “True” Tigbalang Story Set in a Barrio of Lipa City

In the present day, with Lipa City having overtaken Batangas City as the province’s most populous geopolitical unit1, and swathes of erstwhile forest and agricultural lands having been converted into commercial and other establishments, folkloric myths about creatures such as the “aswang,” “tiyanak,” “tigbalang” and others do not carry the same kind of fascination and believability as they once must have when the city was still primarily agrarian in nature.

Suffice it to say that just a few decades back, the existence of these mythical creatures was considered a matter of fact. Consider this supposed “true” story of a “tigbalang” encounter extracted from the so-called “historical data2” for the barrio of San Celestino in Lipa City. The barrio is on the outskirts of the city close to the provincial boundary with Quezon Province and was once, in fact, the subject of dispute between Lipa and the municipality of Tiaong.

The Filipino mythical creature called tigbalang.

The story is set not in San Celestino itself but in the neighboring barrio of San Benito. Both belong to a group of neighboring barrios all named after saints and are collectively and loosely referred to as “Cuatro Santos” or the Four Saints.

The date of the allegedly true “tigbalang” story was not provided, but the historical data required by the national government of Department of Education divisions around the country were submitted on or before 1953. This was just eight years after the end of the Second World War, an era when the entire city was still primarily rural and electrification was still years in the future.

In other words, nights were dark, the spaces between small villages was marked by agricultural fields or pockets of forests, the quiet of the nights was punctured by the strange sounds made by nocturnal creatures and what was in the dark was left vivid to the imagination of those who lived in the era.

Hence, to the people from whom the “tigbalang” story came, there was inevitably the unshakeable belief that it was, indeed, “true.”


Once, a boy whose name was Paulino lived with his mother in San Benito. He was about ten years old. One Sunday afternoon, Paulino was sent by the mother to fetch water from a spring in the river. It was about five o’clock and the spring was about 1½ kilometers from the house of the boy and his mother. Paulino must have had to go because there was no water to be used for cooking.

When Paulino reached the spring, he began to fill his bombing [a bamboo water container] with water. When he looked back, he saw his mother. The mother asked Paulino to go with her to catch some fish and to gather some crabs (katang). So, Paulino went with his mother. He was so much surprised because his mother could turn over big stones easily and even if they could find fish or crabs, they did not try to catch or take them along with them, because the mother told him that they would get them when they came back to go home.

They went on following the river northward. When it was already dark, Paulino asked his mother to go home but the mother would not like [to] yet. When it was very dark already, Paulino found out that his mother was nowhere, so he became afraid of being left alone. He called for his mother and she did not answer. Then, he knew that the woman who was supposed to be his mother was not his real mother. He began to cry. He kept going up the river and found himself in the middle of a cogon field. He did not know what to do.

When it was already dark and late, the mother began to be troubled at home. She asked the men from the barrio to help her look for Paulino for she feared that Paulino must have been taken by the Tigbalang. The barrio men prepared torches and broken cans and went to the spring. The bombong was there but the boy was not. They began to beat the cans and make so much noise and shouted for Paulino. No answer.

As it was Sunday, the people who came from the town late could see the torches and hear the shouting, the beating of the cans, and the calls for Paulino. When these men were about to go down the river, they passed through the cogon field. They heard someone move among the cogon grass. The men stopped to see what it was. They noticed through the moonlight that it was a boy moving among the grass. They moved stealthily toward the boy and grabbed him by the hands and shouted the boy’s name, “Paulino.” It was Paulino. But he tried to run away from the men. The men held him fast and brought him home to his mother. When at home already, Paulino related what happened to him. His mother was very glad and thanked the men who brought Paulino back home and those men who helped her in the search for Paulino.

Since that time, Paulino was never sent to the spring for some water late in the afternoon. What happened to Paulino made the people of S. Benito believe about the Tigbalang4.

Notes and references:
1 As per the “2015 Population Census,” online at the Philippine Statistics Authority.
2 “History and Cultural Life of Barrio San Celestino,” online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
3 This title has been provided by Batangas History. The original title given in the “historical data” was “People Believe in Tigbalang: This is a true story about the Tigbalang.”
4 This excerpt from the “historical data” of San Celestino has been edited for grammar.
Next Post Previous Post