The Tikbalang is a legendary humanoid cryptid from Philippine folklore, said to live in the mountains and forests there.
“Tikbalang” roughly translates to “demon horse,” and this creature has been part of Philippine folklore since time immemorial.
Said to live in the mountains and forests, it is a tall and bony being with extraordinarily long limbs – so long, in fact, that its knees are said to be above its head when it squats down.
Tikbalangs are most commonly thought to have the head and feet of an animal – most commonly a horse. Their arms and torso are human-like. And they are said to be very tall and very thin.
They have, unsurprisingly, been compared to the half-man, half-horse Centaur from Greek mythology, although Tikbalangs have the opposite physiology.
Since horses only arrived in the Philippines when the Spanish invaded, some believe that the Spanish invented the story of the Tikbalang in order to keep the native people scared of the night. According to lore, the creatures only travel at night.
During the course of their travels, Tikbalangs are thought to rape women to produce Tikbalang offspring.
If the sun is shining, but it is also raining, it is believed that two Tikbalangs are getting married.
In general, these creatures are believed to toy with humans. In some cases, apparently, people have been driven out of their minds by Tikbalangs. According to legend, they can make a person believe something that isn’t real.
Legends, however, do vary. Some portray Tikbalangs as reasonable creatures, while others leave you with the image of a vengeful, angry, monstrous beast.
The former legends explain that a Tikbalang can be tamed and adopted as a servant if you pluck one of the three thickest spines from its mane.
The latter legends tell of a predatory beast that kills people without remorse. Stories abound of Tikbalangs using their hooves to trample or stamp people to death.
Bizarrely, these stories claim there is a stench of burning hair and that the red-eyed Tikbalang is smoking a big cigar.
There are tales of local people who have disappeared for long periods only to reappear in a confused and delirious state. They claim to have been approached by a friend who asked them to accompany them.
The friend is actually a Tikbalang who has taken the shape of a person whom the victim trusts. Once the Tikbalang has lured its victim into its trap, it will push and shove them, knocking them over every once in a while and not allowing them to regain their balance.
Disconcertingly, the victims can only giggle like a small child while this is happening and shake uncontrollably.
Evidently, as soon as the victim stops resisting, they find themselves alone and disoriented. The ones who make it back home say that their surroundings seemed to just keep curling in on themselves.
Survivors of a Tikbalong are often found sick with a fever, and this is thought to result from being in contact with the creature.
Tikbalangs are also known for interfering with travelers, trying to disorient them and make them lose their way. Travelers can avoid this fate by doing one very simple thing: turning their shirts inside out!
Some legends contend that the Tikbalangs evolved from an aborted human fetus that was in limbo and then got sent back to Earth.
Tikbalangs are also said to be able to shapeshift and make themselves invisible should the need arise.
Sightings and Tales
There are very few accounts of Tikbalang sightings or encounters, but one, in particular, stands out. A factory worker had been asked by his boss to come in very early to prepare some machinery for an early delivery.
Having checked the machines, he decided to go outside to have a break. He rested under his favorite tree, as was his habit.
He then heard the sound of hooves and thought a horse was approaching. He couldn’t see what was coming, but eventually, a tall, thin man appeared. The man’s eyes were really red, and he approached slowly.
The sun was starting to come up, and the creepy man said, “You should be thankful because the sun is coming up. I’ll be back for you.”
One popular legend tells of a farmer’s son who encountered a strange tall, thin man in the forest. The man with long black hair engaged the boy in conversation and soon distracted him enough to take him off course.
When the boy stopped for a rest, the Tikbalong took him further into the woods. Eventually, the boy collapsed, completely disorientated and lost. The Tikbalong laughed cruelly in its high-pitched giggle before abandoning the child.
The following morning, the boy was found by his distraught parents and taken to safety. He was suffering from a fever.
A Tikbalang appears on the set of Netflix’s U-turn?
In 2020, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that two lead actors, Kim Chiu and Tony Labrusca, from Netflix movie U-turn, were giving a press conference when Kim spoke of a spooky encounter involving a Tikbalong.
Kim told how the crew had been filming at an old house in Manila when she decided to post a behind-the-scenes snap to Instagram. She then explained that her psychic friend contacted her, telling her to avoid the room where she had taken the picture.
Kim’s friend claimed that the photo revealed a Tikbalong standing near the actor. The friend outlined the area where the Tikbalang was standing.
The actor admitted that she didn’t see the strange creature but claimed that, at the time, she had felt like something was watching her.
Where to find
phantomsandmonsters.com, “Legendary Humanoids – Tikbalang, the Demon Horse,” accessed October 16, 2017,
ztevetevans.wordpress.com, “The Tikbalang in Philippine Folklore: A Shapeshifting Trickster,” accessed October 16, 2017,
unexplained-mysteries.com, “Creepy experiences that ran in my family.,” accessed October 17, 2017,
https://entertainment.inquirer.net/395367/kim-tony-and-jm-close-encounters-with-creatures-that-go-bump-in-the-night, “Kim, Tony and JM: Close encounters with creatures that go bump in the night,” accessed March 3, 2023.
- An artist’s impression of a Tikbalang. Pic credit: @Storied/PBS/YouTube
- A drawing of a demon horse. Pic credit: limitrofe/Pixabay
Last modified on March 3rd, 2023 at 1:03 pm