Filipinos are full of superstitions. We often say there’s nothing to lose if we believe (“walang mawawala kapag maniwala”), and so we often combine scientific medication with superstition such as quack doctors, faith healers, and miraculous people or items. We also try resonating folktales and myths as if they were the truth behind things we can’t explain or are curious about. The following are some of the most popular urban legends that many Pinoys continue to believe.
#10: The Snake Man at Robinsons
The owner of Robinsons was rumoured to have born twins – Robina Gokongwei-Pe and an extraordinary creature who is half-snake and half-man. The Snake Man was reportedly fed with meat, but there came a time when it yearned for human meat. The wealthy businessman thought of opening a shopping mall to hide the family secret and to feed the Snake Man discreetly with unsuspecting shoppers.
According to stories, as shoppers fit clothes inside the dressing rooms, they never came out as they were swallowed by remote controlled floors that open down to the secret chambers of the hungry, monstrous Snake Man. Some say the Snake Man is housed in Robinsons Galleria Manila, some say it’s in Robinsons Place Manila, still others say it’s in Robinsons Place Cebu because of its winding path towards the parking lots.
#9: The Horror at the 13th Floor
Countless high-rise buildings dot the country today, but most of these towering concretes don’t have a 13th floor, why? Because people believe random scary things can happen on this unlucky floor. Apparently, this urban legend is not just popular in the Philippines but also in other countries. In fact, there are so many horror movies depicting this folktale such as the Nightmare on the 13th Floor and The Thirteenth Floor.
Property investors in many parts of the country and around the world deliberately omit the 13th floor and jump to 14th so as not to compromise the marketability of the spaces there.
#8: Singing “My Way” Leads to a Tragic End
Sometime around the first decade of Y2K, there were stories about how singing Frank Sinatra’s My Way at the karaoke would end up tragically for anyone. The legend began circulating after reports of several men meeting their untimely death during or after belting the song.
This may not actually be a complete urban legend because even the New York Times and local news recorded in the dozens of deaths related to the song, and dubbed it My Way Killings. In May 2007, while in the middle of his rendition of the notorious song, a young man was shot dead by a guard who disliked the former’s bad singing at a karaoke in San Mateo, Rizal.
Many Pinoys remain cautious about picking songs at karaoke bars, avoiding My Way as much as possible, especially in public.
#7: The Bloody Foundation of San Juanico Bridge
When Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the country and almost erased vast areas in Leyte and Tacloban, the over 40 years old San Juanico Bridge remained strong and steady. Impressive, right? What could be the secret to its strength?
Legends say that the longevity and strength of the San Juanico Bridge (also called Marcos Bridge) adjoining the two islands is due to the countless children sacrificed during its construction. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos allegedly had conspired the kidnapping of street kids or random babies from Leyte and Samar, and had offered them in a demonic ritual, mixing their blood with the concrete.
At the time, Imelda headed the construction of the bridge, and reportedly performed the sacrifice upon the admonition of a fortune-teller who said children’s blood was needed for the project’s completion. Bodies of the sacrificed children were then thrown down the bridge. So whenever there are haunting incidences in the bridge, people will remember the story about the unknown children sacrificed there for the San Juanico Bridge.
#6: AIDS/HIV Injections in Discos and Cinemas
Beware when going to disco houses, bars and cinemas – you might come out positive with AIDS or HIV. Rumors say that people with the disease seek vengeance by infecting others as well. HIV positives would allegedly extract their own blood and randomly inject other people they meet at crowded hangout places. According to the reports, HIV positives would use very small syringes, which are barely noticeable when injected into the skin.
#5: Siopao, Burgers with Extraordinary Ingredients
Siopao and burger are two snack foods well loved by Pinoys. But don’t be surprised if some Filipinos wouldn’t join in the feast. According to stories, siopao filling isn’t actually good meat, but meat coming from stray animals like cats, dogs and even rats. Also, the patty used by cheap burger stalls isn’t meat at all, but worms and cardboard paper mixed together in a mush. Ew, right?
#4: Alien Abductions in Mount Banahaw
Mount Banahaw, the sacred mountain of the Philippines, has long been full of mysteries. According to some locals, hikers would go up the mountain never to return. These hikers, they would say were abducted by aliens who land on top of the mountain with their space ships or flying saucers.
A popular version tells of campers/hikers spending the night at Mount Banahaw. One of them woke up and decided to sleep outside the tent in a sleeping bag. Afterwards, there was a blinding light. When the camper woke up the next morning, he or she was already on top of another mountain. The camper eventually reunited with the others, and claimed he or she can’t remember what happened that night after her encounter with the blinding light.
If the North Atlantic has the so-called Bermuda Triangle, the Philippines also has what we call the Romblon Triangle, which is located in the Sibuyan Sea with its three corners at Mindoro, Panay and Masbate in the province of Romblon.
The Romblon Triangle covers a very small area, but due to the countless marine disasters there, people started talking about the Philippine version of the Devil’s Triangle. Meanwhile, the Philippine Coastguard insists that the shipwrecks in the Romblon Triangle are due to bad weather and technical failure, and nothing mystical.
#2: Impersonation of Bongbong Marcos
Bongbong Marcos, unico iho of the late Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, as we know him today is allegedly not the real one. Stories say that the real Bongbong was long dead and that the Marcoses only asked a look-alike cousin to undergo plastic surgery and take Bongbong’s place.
According to one version, the young Bongbong died while he had a fight with a classmate who allegedly stabbed him. In another version, the teenaged Bongbong had a road accident in London that led to his fatal demise. Still another version says that he died in Mindanao after his abduction by rebels. Wanting to continue her husband’s legacy, Imelda persuaded a relative to impersonate the supposedly late Bongbong.
#1: Jose Rizal Fathered Adolf Hitler
Sometime during Adolf Hitler was still in his mother’s womb around August 1888, Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal was in Europe. This led many to believe that the Nazi leader could have Filipino blood and could be Jose Rizal’s son. Apart from this, Rizal had been romantically close to a lot of women, Filipino and foreigner alike, and it was possible that Rizal could’ve met Hitler’s mother. Also, people say that the two historic men looked a lot like each other.