The Unseen Mischief: A Duwende’s Tale

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.

Everyday life in the small barrio of Luzon carried an undercurrent of the extraordinary, a tapestry woven with threads of ancient lore. Most notable among these were the tales of the Duwende, the goblin-like beings living beneath the earth, wrapped in a world of their own, yet closely intertwined with that of the humans.

The Duwende were diminutive but brimming with life, their mischievous nature evident in the twinkle of their eyes and the ever-playful smirk that danced upon their lips. An uncanny strength lay concealed within their small frames, the ability to impact lives both directly and indirectly. Their existence danced between the lines of reality and fantasy.

Pedro, an honest farmer, led a life that was a mirror image of his straightforward demeanor. However, his life’s monotony broke when he discovered an oddly shaped stone in his field. In his ignorance, he dismissed the Duwende folklore and used the stone as a doorstop. Little did he know, he had intruded upon a Duwende’s home.

Unusual occurrences started to punctuate his daily routine. His plow would go missing, only to be found atop a tree. Seeds sown one day would sprout into flowers the next, defying nature’s rhythm. The Duwende, disturbed by Pedro’s actions, had decided to sprinkle a dose of mischief into his life.

dewende in the villiage

Yet, with all the pranks, the Duwende had an unspoken rule. They were protective of their homes but not inherently harmful. The tricks served as a reminder for Pedro, a silent plea to return what was not his. But Pedro, oblivious to the Duwende’s world, blamed his ill luck on bad omens.

One day, an old sage visited the barrio. Upon hearing Pedro’s tale, he recognized the Duwende’s work. With a patient smile, he advised Pedro to return the stone and apologize to the unseen. Despite his skepticism, Pedro, driven by desperation, did as told.

The next morning, Pedro woke to a sight that filled his heart with joy. His fields, once a playground of Duwende mischief, were now blooming with the most vibrant crops. The Duwende, their home restored, had returned Pedro’s respect with a blessing.

Through the veil of Pedro’s tale, the Duwende served a vital reminder. Respect for others’ spaces, understanding, and harmony could turn even the most mischievous goblins into benevolent helpers. Life, after all, is all about coexistence, be it with humans or goblin-like creatures from the folktales of old.

Duwende the Mischievous

The duwende, a fascinating and enigmatic creature of Philippine mythology, is renowned for its mischievous nature and unwavering guardianship of its underground dwelling. Standing at a diminutive height, this goblin-like creature captures the imagination with its mysterious presence and penchant for causing trouble.

Residing in the depths of the earth, the duwende can oftentimes be found lurking in forests, gardens, or even the nooks and crannies of homes. With its mischievous tendencies, the duwende is notorious for playing pranks on unsuspecting individuals, making objects disappear, or causing disturbances. Its sly nature and stealthy movements enable it to evade detection, leaving those affected perplexed and in awe of its mischievous antics.

enchanted filipino old man dwende magical

Despite its playful demeanor, the duwende is exceedingly protective of its domain. Any attempt to disturb its dwelling is met with wrath and dire consequences. Legends tell tales of people who have encountered the furious duwende, often facing curses, illness, or even death as a result. These chilling stories serve as a warning to respect the duwende’s territory and to exercise caution when venturing near its underground abode.

In some portrayals, the duwende is seen as a guardian of nature and the environment. It is believed that the creature possesses a strong bond with the earth and demonstrates a protective instinct towards plants, animals, and even certain homes. Some folk tales even depict the duwende as a helpful entity, willing to lend a hand or offer guidance to those who approach it with respect and humility.

enchanted filipino old man dwende magical  farm

To catch a glimpse of the duwende is both a rare and eerie experience. It is said to be small in stature, often depicted with a misshapen body, a pointy hat, and gnarled features. Its cunning gaze and impish smile reveal a complex being, full of mystery and intrigue.

Duwende Myths

In the Philippine countryside, mounds of soil or anthills are known to harbor Duwende. Elders warn children to excuse themselves and say “tabi tabi po” when passing by these formations or areas enveloped by shadows, as it is believed that these places are the abode of mysterious creatures. These creatures are known to afflict those who disrespect them, causing sudden fever, illness and inflammation.

Whenever someone is ill, it is not uncommon for families to offer food to these unseen creatures as a sign of respect. These ancient beings, called Duwendes, are deeply rooted in Philippine folklore, thrilling and scaring the young and old alike.

One type of duwende is the old man or “nuno,” with the height of a small child. Dwelling beneath the earth in small mounds called “punso,” these creatures hold deeper secrets than simple tales used to scare children into listening to warnings.

There are many kinds of Duwendes in the Philippines. They come in different shapes and sizes, personalities, and dispositions. Some are friendly and generous, while others carry a grudge and can be vengeful foes.

Magical Powers and Cursed Ailments

Duwendes possess remarkable magical abilities. If someone harms or offends them, they have the power to inflict unusual and incurable diseases like skin rashes, inflammations, and never-ending fevers. On the other hand, Duwendes also bestow enchanted gifts upon mortal friends. Some enchanted gifts include garments that can turn people invisible. Another gift is a scoop that when used to draw rice from a pot, it can produce unli-rice. Unli-rice is another way of saying unlimited rice in the Philippines. Duwende can also shape shift, turning themselves into forest animals such as deer. However, they are mostly described as looking like an old man, but with a body the size of a child, often seen donning a salakot, a traditional hat worn by farmers.


A Hidden Treasure

Legend has it that beneath the Duwendes’ humble anthill abodes lie vast collections of precious gems and gold. They jealously guard these treasures for themselves. Sometimes, if they are courting a young maiden, they may share or promise a portion of their riches, especially those with beautiful names or who sing joyful tunes while cooking, as the stories suggest. In other accounts, they offer their wealth to those they consider friends. However, not all Duwendes are so straightforward and fair. Be wary of those that will take little children who stray from home… which is why little children should stay home when it is dark outside.

enchanted filipino old man dwende magical barrio

Elders say Duwendes are capable of showing extreme acts of goodness. According to rural legends, if one manages to befriend a Duwende, it can bring good fortune and give money, food, or even precious gems. However, their favors come with a warning: what they give must be consumed or used immediately, or it will vanish. Forging a friendship with a Duwende is a lifetime commitment, as breaking such a bond can bring bad luck or even death.

However, everything has its opposite, and there is a darker side to the Duwende’s nature. The Itim na Duwende or Black Dwarves are infamous for inflicting harm on people. They are extremely crafty tricksters that often target young maidens and children, kidnapping them as vengeance for disrespecting them. They promise their victims all the things they desire in exchange for staying with them for the rest of their lives. An Ugaw from Pangasinan is a smaller, doll-like being often known for stealing rice from houses or granaries. As they are usually unseen, they can follow people undetected.

Dwendes are known to reveal themselves to only a select few, usually when they develop a liking for someone. Some even reside in ancient houses, where they often make their presence known to children and play delightful games with them. Legends tell tales of the Dwende’s paradise, a magical realm abundant with sparkling gold. These mischievous creatures have a knack for collecting and hoarding various things, so if you find something missing from your house, fear not! It may have simply been taken by a Dwende. And guess what? Once you stop searching for it, the item is bound to reappear as if by magic.

Many believe that Dwendes have a fondness for people, especially women. It is said that they occasionally whisk away those they favor to their enchanted paradise. The person’s body remains unconscious during this extraordinary adventure. Sometimes, the Dwende visit playfully, their mischievous pranks reflecting their merry mood. Others claim that in their presence, one’s appetite wanes, speech becomes difficult, and a strange lethargy hangs in the air until eventually falling ill.

Duwende and Agriculture

Duwendes, like other folklore beings, are identified as guardians and protectors of land. They are said to be the true owners of fields used for planting rice. The Karanget, also called the “louse of the earth,” is an example of such a Duwende who farmers give offerings to. Boiled rice, unsalted boiled chicken, and cigars are left in the rice field after sunset as a sign of respect. Before plowing the land, farmers repeat this again, hoping that the Duwende will take care of the plants. To encourage them, the farmers even sprinkle the blood of a red rooster on the leaves of the young plants. The Ilokano Ansisit also prefers farmers to plow land, using their Carabao instead of using a tractor, because they believe the machine may destroy the Duwende’s home.

Heed the Color of Duwende

The color of the Duwende will reveal their intentions. These magical dwarve looking creatures are known to manifest in different colors, each representing their unique nature and temperament.

The Red Dwende – A Deceptive Presence

Beware of the red-dressed Dwende, for they are the embodiment of mischief and deceit. This is the most evil type among all Dwende, and they should never be trusted. They possess a cunning and untrustworthy nature, often breaking promises and leading others astray. It is wise to avoid any negotiation or dealings with them, as their intentions are seldom true.

The White Dwende – Protectors and Playful Companions

The white-hued Dwende, on the other hand, embody a more pleasant nature. They are known for their calm disposition and playful demeanor. These Dwende are especially fond of young children and enjoy their company. They possess the ability to heal those affected by the spells of wicked sorcerers or witches. When encountering a white Dwende, it is essential to approach them with serenity and gentle words.

enchanted filipino old man dwende magical

The Green Dwende – Luck and Laughter

Green-clad Dwende bring an abundant dose of luck, particularly to those who delight in games of chance. Gamblers, take heed! However, remember not to place blind trust in these playful beings, for they can be mischievous and cunning. Some days they may be considerably unfriendly, so it is important to patronize them and, if possible, bring a child along for their preferred conversation partner.

The Mysterious Black Dwende – Luck and Caution

Among the mysterious Dwende, there is a kind dressed in black. Contrary to popular belief, they are not purely evil. In fact, according to a trusted friend, they possess the power to bring luck to individuals, families, and businesses alike. While dealing with them, it is vital to be cautious and maintain a respectful distance.

In the enchanting realm of the Dwende, we have witnessed the existence of different types, each with their own unique nature and significance. From the mischievous red Dwende to the calm and healing white Dwende, and the playful yet tricky green Dwende, we have explored a world of mysterious creatures. However, let us always remember the importance of approaching these unseen beings with respect and caution. According to the Phillipinos, remember to honor their presence with the phrase “tabi tabi po”.

Dwende Story – Hide and Seekers

In the breathtaking province of the Philippines, a young girl named Mia came from the city to visit her aunt and cousins. Upon arriving at their home, warm greetings filled the air, and Mia’s heart overflowed with joy. She couldn’t wait to join her cousins to play outdoors!

After some catching up with her relatives, Mia and her cousins decided to play Hide & Seek. Mia’s older cousin was the seeker while the rest of them scattered to find the perfect hiding spots.

In the vicinity of her aunt’s house, a large mound of dirt lay next to towering trees. Mia saw her perfect hiding place and hid behind it.

enchanted filipino old man dwende magical

Although she know the legends whispered that dirt mounds were where the Dwende resided. She forgot to utter the words, “Tabi-Tabi Po Nuno,” as a sign of respect and protection against misfortune should a Dwende be present. Especially if were to be a wicked one who had the power to cast spells, bestow warts, and make people appear ill

Time ticked away as Mia hid, oblivious to the consequences of her forgetfulness. Eventually, she emerged from her hiding place and returned to where her cousins awaited her. Much to her surprise, they had given up searching for her, unable to locate her hiding spot anywhere in sight.

That night, an unexpected illness befell Mia. She experienced unyielding shivers, frequent visits to the bathroom to vomit, and her memories soon became hazy and blurred. Her family recounted how she slipped into a peculiar state, lost in hallucinations for three consecutive days. In her delirium, she sweated profusely, laughed uncontrollably, shed tears, and conversed with invisible figures that appeared before her. The bewildered family sought medical assistance, but even the local doctors were unable to identify the cause of Mia’s ailment.

To unravel the mysterious events, Mia’s aunt questioned her other children about their activities during the fateful Hide & Seek game. Her cousins recounted their innocent game, mentioning Mia’s prolonged disappearance and their fruitless searches. It then dawned on Mia’s father and aunt that she had likely fallen victim to the ill intentions of a malevolent Dwende.

Seeking answers and a possible remedy, Mia’s family turned to an Albularyo, a wise Witch Doctor known for her ancient knowledge and abilities. The Witch Doctor lit a candle to guide them through the mystical rites. Filling a tub with water, she added a few drops of a special oil derived from a sacred plant. Chanting in an ethereal language, she poured the melted wax from the lit candle into the tub.

In a remarkable fashion, the wax formed a significant representation of a mound of dirt. Within its magnificent shape, a hidden cavity revealed a figure resembling Mia herself, alongside four or five Dwende. Some of them stared at her with curiosity, while others seemed to be casting unseen forces her way. It was a moment both eerie and mesmerizing, a glimpse into a realm unseen.

To break free from the Dwende’s grip and restore harmony, the wise Witch Doctor instructed Mia’s family to return to the large mound of dirt behind which she had hidden. Armed with offerings of fruits, they humbly uttered, “Tabi-tabi po Nuno,” extending forgiveness and seeking peace. As dawn broke on the following day, Mia awoke, her recollections of the strange occurrences wiped away as if by magic.

The encounter with the Dwende had forever imprinted upon Mia’s heart the importance of respecting the unseen, reminding her to appreciate the mystical enchantment that permeates the world around us.

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