The Sigbin (Sigben, Zegben) is a terrifying cryptid from Filipino mythology.
Sigbin folklore is reportedly widespread in the Visayas and Mindanao Islands of central and southern Philippines.
Many accounts portray the Sigbin as a vampire or carnivore that lives in remote forests of central and south Philippines and hunts at night for animal and human victims.
The Filipinos tell ghoulish stories about Sigbin hunting stealthily at night, sucking the blood of human and animal victims, and ripping out hearts and internal organs for food.
Descriptions of the Sigbin vary from one locality to another and depend much on who is telling the tale.
The variability in native descriptions of the monster probably explains why some folklorists consider it a shapeshifting mythological creature (Theresa Bane, 2016).
According to Filipino traditions, the Sigbin appears in multiple guises, including goat-like, reptilian, bird-like, bat-like, kangaroo-like, and amphibian. (Budjette Tan, David Hontiveros, et al., 2022).
The frequent portrayal of the monster as having hind legs stronger than its front legs has inspired comparisons with the Australian kangaroo and sometimes a rabbit.
The Sigbin as a vampiric beast
The goat-kangaroo form of the Sigbin is a blood-sucking vampiric monster with large floppy ears and a powerful tail that flips like a whip (Jennifer Rivkin, 2014).
The monster may also have bat-like features. It stalks people after dark and sucks the blood from their shadows.
The portrayal of the monster as a goat- or bat-like blood-sucking monster has inspired frequent comparisons with the Latin American El Chupacabra, a legendary creature that supposedly lives on the blood of livestock.
A genre of Sigbin folklore ascribes supernatural powers to the creature, portraying it as a ghost-like or demonic entity.
The Sigbin chimera
Folklore regularly pictures the Sigbin as a chimera combining features of several beasts, including a hornless goat, kangaroo, horse, rabbit, crow, grasshopper/locust, dog, and bat.
The hornless goat-kangaroo chimera is probably the most common version of the beast. Folk imagination then works on that basic structure to build variations of the creature.
The beast may have a face or body resembling a bat, sharp teeth, red rheumy eyes, and long fangs. It may have pronounced dog-like features or look like a Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) with big ears.
Rare forms of the creature look like a monstrous crow with horns or an insect with small forelimbs but big grasshopper/locust-like hindlimbs that supposedly allow the beast to leap great distances at once.
The Sigbin as an embodiment of shapeshifting evil
Visayan traditions describe the Sigbin as a dark fiend with a cat- or goat-like snout and kangaroo- or rabbit-like hindlimbs stronger than the forelimbs. It uses its powerful hindlimbs for fast running like a kangaroo or rabbit.
The Sigbin fiend never stands fully erect: It has a bent posture, with the head hanging low between its forelimbs. The signature posture is artfully evocative of an evil and maliciously scheming demonic entity.
Yet another widely acknowledged variant is the horse-like form with a large head turned back to face the rider.
The ultimate expression of the beast’s shapeshifting power is the human form that can mingle with crowds in communities, looking for victims to kidnap.
The invisible Sigbin
According to Filipino folklore, the Sigbin can make itself invisible. It walks backward like a crab with its head low between its forelimbs.
It has large ears that beat like clapping hands, and according to some accounts, the creature can fly by flapping its ears.
Tales that depict the Sigbin as an evil spirit or demon claim that it can take advantage of its invisibility to invade people’s private lives and sow discord. It also operates as a demon of public spaces and can cause inter-communal gatherings to end in chaotic wrangling that leads to wars.
The ferocious beast rips out victims’ internal organs and hearts and feeds on them. It hunts babies for food and may also feed on carrion.
Visayan Filipino legends claim that certain families or groups have a special relationship with the dreadful Sigbin. These people are known as the Sigbinans (“Sigbin owners”). They are Pantas (sages) or Minggays (witches or sorcerers) with special powers that allow them to control the Sigbins and use them for evil purposes.
Folklore often portrays the Sigbinans as wealthy individuals, powerful families, or clans. They domesticate the fearsome Sigbins and make them obey their commands. The Sigbins guard their master’s property, attack their master’s enemies and steal from them. The Sigbins can fulfill such missions because they can make themselves invisible.
Legends claim that the sigbinans have magical clay containers or jars in which they keep their Sigbins. They fill the jars with blood and body fluids because the Sigbins need the fluids to nourish themselves and stay alive.
The Aswangs are yet another group of entities that can exercise control over the Sigbin.
Aswangs are shapeshifting evil spirits that can transform into various mythical creatures. Aswangs also keep monsters, such as the Wakwak ( a vampiric, bird-like creature), as pets and use them for hunting.
Sightings and Tales
Sigbin sightings are supposedly rare because the creatures are stealthy, invisible, and hunt at night. But they may signal their presence by emitting a sickening smell.
However, some native Filipinos and cryptozoologists claim to have seen Sigbins lurking in the dark. These claims are unsubstantiated.
Is the Sigbin a rare species?
Some skeptics speculate that rare animal species or species unknown to science may have inspired Sigbin legends.
Recent discoveries of previously unknown animal species have been cited as evidence that there could be an animal unknown to science that inspired the widespread folklore about the Sigbin in the Philippines.
For instance, in 2019, media outlets reported the discovery of a new species of a feral cat, the Corsican wildcat , on the French island of Corsica. The animal is closely related to the African wildcat (Felis lybica).
The media dubbed the Corsican wildcat a “cat-fox” (a fox-like cat or a cat-like fox).
Corsican shepherds have told stories about the Corsican wildcat–known in the Corsican language as the “ghjattu-volpe”–for centuries, but scientists considered the stories myth of legend.
However, animal scientists got their first hint of the species in 2008 when one got trapped in a chicken coop on the island.
According to experts, the “cat-fox” is longer than a domestic cat and has prominent canine teeth and a tail. Remarkably, centuries-old folklore matched expert descriptions in multiple aspects.
The case of the “cat-fox” has encouraged cryptozoologists to believe that cryptids, such as the Sigbin, could be rare animal species unknown to science.
|Other Name/s||Sigbin, Sigben, Zegben|
|Habitat||Countryside, Farmland, Forest, Human Society, Jungle|
Where to find
Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore, Theresa Bane, 2016.
The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Meet the Dark Creatures, Budjette Tan, David Hontiveros, et al., 2022.
Cebuano Sorcery: Malign Magic in the Philippines, Richard Q. Lieban, Richard Warren Lieban, 1967.
Culture and Curing: Anthropological Perspectives on Traditional Medical Beliefs and Practices, Peter Morley, Roy Wallis, 1980.
Searching for el Chupacabra, Jennifer Rivkin, 2014.
Philippine Short Stories, 1941-1955: Volume 1-2, Leopoldo Y. Yabes, 1981.
https://www.philippineliterature.com/sigbin/, “Philippine Literature: Sigbin,” accessed on February 3, 2023.
https://twitter.com/japmkl/status/1418923026922491907, “Sigbinan is a type of Pantas…,” accessed on February 3, 2023.
https://twitter.com/japmkl/status/1418924143857262596, “The sigbins obey the Sigbinan’s will,” accessed on February 3, 2023.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/06/19/cat-fox-corsica-mysterious-new-mammal/1503333001/, “Meet the ‘cat-fox,’ a mysterious mammal found in Corsica that could be a new species,” accessed on February 3, 2023.
https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/19/europe/cat-fox-species-corsica-france-trnd/index.html, “A new species of ‘cat fox’ may be prowling French island of Corsica,” accessed on February 3, 2023.