Monday, October 1, 2012

A Journey into one of the world's Weirdest places.....Laguna, Philippines

If you haven't yet caught site of it The World's Weirdest Places is now available at your favorite re/e-tailer.  We thought we'd share some stories of the weird all the way from Southeast Asia specifically Laguna in the Philippines excerpted from Chapter 15.

From the legendary Loch Ness, Scotland, to the slopes of Mount Shasta, California; from the dark depths of the Solomon Islands to the heart of the Kremlin; and from the magical landscape of Sedona, Arizona, to the turbulent waters of the Devil’s Sea of Japan, The World’s Weirdest Places reveals the sheer astonishing scale of strangeness that dominates our planet.

Laguna, Philippines, Southeast Asia

The Republic of the Philippines, which is a collection of 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, sits between Taiwan and Vietnam. Its people claim it is absolutely overflowing with just about anything and everything of a weird and enigmatic nature. And that is particularly so in the province of Laguna, which is situated in the Calabrazon region of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. After all, how many places on our planet can claim amongst its varied supernatural residents the following: real-life dragons, gigantic birds with huge wingspans; goblins and dwarfs (or, as they are known in the Philippines, the Nuno sa Punso and the Duende); one-eyed giants (Cyclops-type beasts); and a multitude of vampires whose appearances include those of a beautiful woman, a hideous, fetus-like being, and the bat-winged Manananggal?

Laguna is the perfect setting for an absolute menagerie of bizarre entities to inhabit. A deep waterfall, the Pagsanjan Falls, dominates the area. Two long-dormant volcanoes, Mount Banahaw and Mount Makiling, lie to the south. And the province itself sits on the southernmost shores of Laguna de Bay, the biggest lake in the entire Philippines. It’s amid this picturesque and captivating environment that terrible things roam, swim, and soar. Let’s start with those creatures that science and zoology tells us simply cannot exist, but that the folk of the area most assuredly suggest otherwise: fire-breathing dragons.

The Mameleu is a huge snake—one whose length is reputed to reach almost 200 feet when fully grown. Atop its head sits a large and powerful horn capable of inflicting very serious damage on anyone who dares to get in its way. It’s also a creature that shoots flames out of its cavernous jaws and whose evil-looking eyes glow a constant fiery red. A sea-dwelling beast, the Mameleu has reportedly been seen to prowl the waters of Laguna de Bay by the light of a full moon, carefully and hungrily scanning the rolling waters for a tasty fisherman or several. And, the people of Laguna say it has a land-based cousin: the Marcupo, a very similar-looking monster with a devilish forked-tail. Then there is the mighty Baconaua, a silver-colored dragon of immense size that soars across the skies of Laguna thanks to the power of its gigantic, bat-like, membranous wings. To demonstrate the alleged, sheer size of Baconaua, local mythology says that in the very distant past our planet had seven moons, of which Baconaua greedily devoured six, leaving us with just one to call our own. And, now: from monsters massive to creatures distinctly small.

The Nuno sa Punso are secretive and shy creatures of distinctly dwarfish stature that, in the folklore of Laguna, live deep inside discarded, old ant hills. Having the appearance of wizened, old men with red-hued skin and long, flowing beards, they very much keep to themselves—that is, unless someone makes the monumental mistake of disturbing their hilly homes. Then all hell breaks loose. The goblin-like Nuno sa Punso are very practiced at placing one particular curse upon people who dare to cross them, and it’s a curse that surely no-one would wish to endure, particularly because it causes swelling of the face and hands, excessive hair growth all over the body, and will even turn your urine black! In other words, if you happen to visit Laguna, stay the hell away from the ant-hills.

Somewhat Nuno sa Punso-like are the Duende: little figures that also bear an uncanny resemblance to wrinkled old men, but who possess only one eye and live under trees rather than in the nests of ants. They are cold-hearted creatures that trade gold for children, and stealthily break into homes late at night and steal newborn babies. Should you ever encounter a Duende, the people of Laguna say, shower the beast in salt. And, finally, on the matter of the miniscule entities of the Philippines, we come to the Kibaan. They are a decidedly odd bunch, with golden-colored teeth, feet that face backwards, and heads of thick hair that reach to the ground. They are said to construct and play their very own, tiny guitar-like instruments while sitting in the trees amongst their favorite of all friends: fireflies. Now to monsters of the skies.

Sounding very much like the type of unlikely creatures that Godzilla would do valiant battle with in an old Japanese monster-movie, the Mikonawa and Bawa are massive, winged things with beaks and talons made of pure steel, and feathers as strong, long, and deadly as the average sword that King Arthur would have been proud to own. Just like the Baconaua, they, too, both have a curious penchant for devouring entire moons. There is one way to prevent these monstrous, bird-like beasts from having a catastrophic chow down on the solar system, however: Place a welcoming bowl of hot and tasty food outside of your front door late at night, or gently lull them into a pleasant slumber with an inviting local, folk tune.

Tales of bands of one-eyed giants (Cyclops-like creatures) abound, also. The Bungusngis are known for being as large as they are stupid. With a single eye protruding from their foreheads and huge tusks dominating their mouths, they roam the wilds of the land in search of water buffalo—their favorite morsel. The Amomongo is a goliath-sized, gorilla-like animal of a most violent nature that will slaughter and devour pretty much anyone or anything that has the misfortune to get in its path. Interestingly, witness reports from the vicinity of the old volcanoes suggest the creature has far more than a passing resemblance to Bigfoot of the United States. And possibly of relevance to the Amomongo are the Kapre, also a species of hair-covered giants. Rather than being hostile to humans, however, they are genial and gentle folk who are most at home when devouring raw tobacco or smoking huge cigars!

Then there are those creatures of Laguna that seem to almost completely defy any sort of classification whatsoever. A perfect example is the Tikbalangs. They are tall, humanoid entities that have the head and hooves of a horse, and legs so long that, when they sit, their knees rise above their heads. While not specifically malicious or aggressive, they are definitive tricksters. Tikbalangs take particular pleasure in leading people astray, getting them lost in the woods, and generally causing disorientation and distress whenever and wherever possible. Most bizarre of all, however, are the Sigbin. Resembling white-haired, hornless goats, they have huge ears that they clap together as a means to warn others of their kind of impending danger. They also walk backward, and slaughter by licking the shadow of their prey

Now, from the bizarre let’s turn to the downright deadly: Laguna’s vampires.

The Tiyanak is a terrifying creature of the night that resembles a human fetus and cries like a human baby to attract and lure its prey to a horrific death—very much like the giant Svokan of the Caucasus Mountains. Also of a nocturnal and bloodsucking nature are the Balbal. They fly and glide through the moonlit skies of Laguna with only one goal in mind: to seek out the homes of the recently departed. Then, when they find such a place, and their powerful nostrils alert them to the fact that the body is still in evidence, they wildly tear off the roofs of the buildings, and hang from the rafters by their vicious-looking talons, eagerly on the lookout for both body and blood. And on finding both, the Tiyanak extend their coiling, long tongues downwards and proceed to excitedly lick the corpses of the unfortunate people, a process via which massive amounts of blood can be extracted to fuel their soulless forms. Even worse than the Tiyanak is the Manananggal: by day, the loathsome thing appears in the form of a beautiful, alluring woman. By night, however, it transforms into a hideous hag replete with matted hair, a hooked nose, long claws, and yellowy fangs. On achieving its vile transformation, the Manananggal takes to the skies in search of fresh flesh on which to feed—but not before detaching the lower part of its body from the upper section, a process which ensures that those who are unfortunate enough to see the creature soaring overhead are witness to the unforgettable and awful sight of its bloody entrails hanging and swaying wildly below. And, finally, there is the Asuang: a shape-shifting sucker of blood that can take on the form of a pig, bird, cat, or dog. It is not at all averse to mercilessly slicing open the stomachs of pregnant women and devouring their unborn children.

And there we have it: Laguna, a land filled to the brim with bizarre and deadly monsters, none of which it would be at all wise to cross paths with.

Nick Redfern is an author, lecturer, and journalist who writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. His previous books include The Pyramids and the Pentagon; Keep Out!; The Real Men in Black; The NASA Conspiracies; Contactees; and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter. He writes for many publications, including UFO Magazine, Fate, and Fortean Times, and has appeared on numerous television shows, including the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, Monster Quest, and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s The Truth about UFOs, and Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. More information can be found on his blog.

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