Elderly Beliefs

Here are Filipino elderly beliefs that are believed by our ancestors passed on from generation to generation. These are divided according to the different regional groups in the Philippines.

Cebuano Charms

  • Fisherfolk and hunters of Cebu uses the eyes of wildcats as charms to enable them to have an abundant catch.
  • Bones of a black cat are made in a special arrangement as a talisman.


  • The Cebuanos believe that other animals also serve as portents of good or bad omens.
  • Cats are often regarded as possessing special powers. Their eyesight enables them to see evil spirits. The arrival of rain is announced when a cat gets wet during a drought. On the other hand, bad weather is expected when a cat stretches itself in the morning.
  • Dogs become more ferocious if fed with wasps' nests, and see evil spirits like the tumao/tamawo when they bark continuously during a new moon. To scare away the aswang, cow/carabao horns or tortoiseshells are thrown into red-hot coals.
  • When the dahon*dahon (praying mantis) enters a house, it foretells misfortune for the occupants.


The Gaddang believe in two kinds of illness: the sickness caused by evil spirits and the hurt or injury suffered in accidents such as those caused by falling, muscle sprains and insect bites. The Gaddang also specifically identify blindness, insanity, birth defects, skin diseases, goiter, deafness and malaria as other illnesses outside the first two classifications. Most "hurts" are attributed to natural causes, i.e., it is "natural" for an insect to bite or for a person to accidentally cut his/her leg with a knife.

Supernatural Beings

However, illness could also be caused by evil spirits, like the bingil, physically distorted human-like ghouls with very large eyes that reflect light and glow in the dark, contact with which causes illness and even death in two days; aran, a mist-like spirit, floating in the forest, which sneaks into the village at night and possesses a sleeping person, who will then begin to act insanely and die sooner or later; angakokang, known only by its distinctive sound like that of a whining dog, which when heard by a person will result in sickness or death; aled, transubstantial spirits normally invisible, but which have the power to metamorphose themselves into human, animal (pig, bird) and non-human shapes (rocks, trees) and whose touch causes dizziness and general weakness and death within a few days; and karangat, ghouls who, like the aled, can change shape at will, are unusually aggressive and tricky, lurk about villages bringing sickness, insanity and death and must occasionally kill to secure their food, consisting of human corpses. With the evil spirits roaming around, the Gaddang became cautious about the world in which they live. The earth world is an uncertain world. Omens, taboos, and malevolent spirits lead the Gaddang to view the world as particularly hostile. The Gaddang must then seek to establish a harmonious relationship between humans and the other natural and supernatural beings in the world. But few Gaddang have the ability to successfully interact with supernatural forces, requiring mediums to broker between the natural and supernatural. Male and female mediums, mengal, mabayan and makamong — perform anitu rites and other rituals related to planting, harvesting, death, warfare, sickness and misfortune.

Anitu to the Gaddang does not refer to an ancestral spirit, as it commonly does in northern Luzon, but a "belief in a supernatural power." It is also understood by the Gaddang as that which followed by all. First, it has a power, force, or concept through which Nanolay is addressed. No Gaddang can say "I beg to Nanolay," but rather, "I beg to anitu." Anitu can only be viewed as benevolent. It is correct to say narakat a anitu (bad anitu). Second, anitu also refers to seven rites of passage which all Gaddang undergo.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License