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Title: Tikbalang  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Philippine mythology, Anggitay, Aso ni San Roque, Manaul, Amomongo
Collection: Mythological Horses, Mythological Hybrids, Philippine Culture, Philippine Legendary Creatures, Philippine Mythology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Title Tikbalang the human horse
Description The Benevolent Horse
Gender Unknown
Region Philippines

Tikbalang (also written as Tigbalang, Tigbalan, or Tikbalan) is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in the mountains and forests of the Philippines. It is generally described as a tall, bony humanoid creature with disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down.[1] It has the head and feet of an animal, most commonly a horse. It is sometimes believed to be a transformation of an aborted fetus which has been sent to earth from limbo.[2]


  • Superstitions 1
  • Taming a tikbalang 2
  • In popular culture 3
    • Literature 3.1
    • Film 3.2
    • Television 3.3
    • Music 3.4
    • Video games 3.5
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Additional reading 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • External links 8


Tikbalangs are said to scare travelers and lead them astray. Tikbalangs play tricks on travelers such that they keep on returning to an arbitrary path no matter how far he goes or where he turns. Supposedly this is counteracted by wearing one's shirt inside out. Another countermeasure is to ask permission out loud to pass by or, not to produce too much noise while in the woods in order not to offend or disturb the tikbalang.

A superstition popular with the Tagalog of Rizal Province is that Tikbalangs are benevolent guardians of elemental kingdoms. They are usually found standing at the foot of large trees looking around for anyone who dare to bestow malignancy on their kingdom's territory.

A common saying has it that rain from a clear sky means "may kinakasal na tikbalang."(Filipino, "a tikbalang is getting married".) This was potentially connected with a similar Spanish proverb that claimed a witch was getting married when there was rain on a sunny day, although many cultures have such sayings in which a trickster figure gets married (cp. fox's wedding, bear's wedding, monkey's birthday).

According to traditional folklore, the tikbalang can also transform itself into human form or turn invisible to humans. They like to lead travelers astray.[1]

Tikbalang are generally associated with dark, sparsely populated, foliage-overgrown areas, with legends variously identifying their abode as being beneath bridges, in Bamboo or Banana groves, and atop Kalumpang (Sterculia foetida)[3] or Balite (Ficus indica) trees.

Taming a tikbalang

By one account a tikbalang has a mane of sharp spines, with the three thickest of these being of particular importance. A person who obtains one of these spines can use them as an anting-anting (talisman) in order to keep the tikbalang as his servant. The tikbalang must first be subdued, however, by leaping onto it and tying it with a specially-prepared cord. The would-be-tamer must then hang on while the creature flies through the air, fighting madly to dislodge its unwelcome rider, until it is exhausted and acknowledges its defeat.[2] or you can look on his mane and you will see 3 golden hairs and if you pluck 3 of them before he/she eats you, they will serve you until you die.

In popular culture


  • Within the Lemegeton the 55th goetic spirit Orobas has the physical appearance of a tikbalang.
  • A tikbalang named Lusyo features prominently in The Mythology Class, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Filipino comic creator Arnold Arre.[4]
  • X-Men and Wetworks illustrator Whilce Portacio has created a comic book series called Stone: The Awakening, which features Filipino legendary creatures, including the tikbalang.
  • A tale including a tikbalang appears in When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe. The wise creature mentors a young Filipino man who can see ghosts that haven't yet passed on.
  • A tikbalang is the antagonist of the issue "Rules of the Race" in the comic Trese, where it engages in street races with unwitting drivers.[5]
  • Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan is a child-friendly telling of the Tikbalang mythos – written by Victoria Añonuevo, illustrated by Kora Dandan-Albano and released by Adarna House – intended to familiarize young Filipino audiences with Philippine Mythological creatures. In the story, a Tikbalang becomes lonely for lack of a playmate during the full moon, a time when Filipino children of generations past traditionally went out to play in the moonlight. In search for a playmate, the Tikbalang leaves his home in the Kalumpang tree and encounters first a Kapre, then a Nuno, an Aswang, and a Tiyanak, before he finally meets another Tikbalang as a suitable playmate.[3]


  • The 2008 animated film Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia features the Tikbalang as one of the main creatures of the story.
  • A Tikbalang like creature was featured in the 2002 film Spirit Warriors: The Shortcut, where it is descrbed as brown hairy gigantic creature which is similar to the height of a Kapre, where it helps Red and Thor escape while they were attaked by a group of Aswangs.
  • Tikbalang: The Horse Demon was the first episode of the 2015 Creatures Of Philippine Mythology documentary web-series produced by The Aswang Project and High Banks Entertainment Ltd. It traces back the origin of the Tikbalang's image to India, circa 2000BCE, and follows its evolution to modern day.[6]


  • The 2010 television show Lost Girl has a Tikbalang as a one time foe. Its appearance differs from the one that is in the Philippine Mythology, which is described as a humanoid grass like creature which is similar of that Man-Thing.
  • ABS-CBN 2013 television series Juan dela Cruz leading the Tikbalang and Enkanto as Juan's allies against Peruha and the Aswang legions.


  • The Filipino hardcore band, Tame the Tikbalang is named after this creature, and the common motif of "taming" one.

Video games

  • The popular MMORPG World of Warcraft features a character named "Griftah" who sells an amulet called an "Infallible Tikbalang Ward". The accompanying text states, "With this trusty warding talisman, no tikbalang will ever find you and steal you away to the treetops. It really works!" When an item in World of Warcraft is said to "really work", it seldom does; naturally, tikbalangs are not found in the game.
  • In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, Tikbalang is a rare monster belonging to the Tauri family (demonic humanoids composed of various animal parts, capable of inflicting a lethal curse if you do not avert your eyes.)
  • Tikbalang also appears in MMORPG Ragnarok Online as a giant armored horse in Malaya Port, a city based in Philippines.

See also


  • [7] 
  • [8] 

Additional reading


  1. ^ a b Eugenio, Damiana L. (2008). Philippine Folk Literature An Anthology. University of the Philippines Press. p. 247.  
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ a b Añouevo, Victoria; Dandan-Albano, Kora (2004). Ang Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan. Quezon City: Adarna House, Inc.  
  4. ^ Lourd de Veyra (4th Quarter, 1999). "Gen X Meets Tikbalang".  
  5. ^ Tan, Budjette. "Case 2: Rules of the Race." Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. Illust. Kajo Baldisimo. Pasay City: Visual Print, 2008.
  6. ^ Clark, Jordan "Tikbalang: The Horse Demon" Episode 01, Creatures Of Philippine Mythology (2015)
  7. ^ the philippine islands 1493–1898. 1905. p. 269. 
  8. ^ Vocabulario de la lengua pampanga. 1860. 

External links

  • Keith Thompson's rendition of a tikbalang.
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