ENGKANTO: Facts About Filipino Elves That You Should Know

ENGKANTO (Filipino Elves) – Here are some mysterious and important facts about this mythical creature that you should know.

Engkanto is a term used to describe a variety of supernatural beings in Filipino folklore. These mystical creatures are believed to live in the unseen realms of nature, such as mountains, forests, and bodies of water.

Unlike the mischievous dwarves or Aswang, Engkanto is often associated with beauty and elegance. They are thought to reside in trees, particularly balete trees, and rarely reveal themselves unless disturbed.


Many believe that disrespecting their habitats or failing to ask for permission before entering certain areas could lead to illness or misfortune. Some stories even narrate encounters with Engkanto, emphasizing the importance of showing respect and humility in their presence.

The belief in their existence has endured for centuries, with some communities in the Philippines still holding onto this belief.

Locally, they are known by various names such as “Tumao” in Cagayan and Misamis, “Meno” in Iligan, and “Panulay” in Siquijor. According to traditional healers known as albularyo, Engkanto exhibits two main characteristics: the benevolent and the mischievous or malevolent.

Benevolent Engkanto is believed to bring good fortune to those who show them respect. However, as time passes and modernization takes hold, belief in these benevolent beings has gone. They may cause unintentional harm or illness to those who accidentally touch them.

Offering food is a common way to seek forgiveness or express gratitude to the benevolent ones.

Meanwhile, mischievous or malevolent Engkanto may deceive people, particularly those they harbor ill feelings towards. In rural areas, they often disguise themselves as humans to attract unsuspecting individuals, offering gifts or food. It is advisable not to accept anything from them.

Elderlies believe that saying “tabi tabi po” or “makikiraan po” is a way to show respect to these mythical creatures.

A simple way to determine if an Engkanto is disturbing you is by comparing the lengths of your ring and index fingers. If your left ring finger is longer than your right ring finger, it suggests that an Engkanto might be causing the disturbance.

It is important to consult a known albularyo immediately to address or stop the disturbance caused by the Engkanto.

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