There are some creatures closer to home than others, and the dwende is one I’ve heard of all my life. In stories I’ve heard from friends and family who live in or have visited the Philippines, they’re usually harmless little things, but in some stories they’re irritating and can get nasty if you displease them.
Dwende / Nuno sa Punso (Tagalog)
The dwende and nuno may or may not be two different creatures. Physically, their description is the same: small bearded brown men, anywhere between three inches to 3 feet tall. They typically wear a loincloth, woven hat, and walk barefoot.
The nuno sa pusno (ancestor of the anthill), is said to live in termite mounds or anthills, in caves or under rocks. If you disturb the nuno’s home it may curse you. Symptoms of a curse: soreness, vomiting, swelling of the genitals (if you urinated on its home), swollen feet (if you kicked its home). The cure is usually an apology and an offering of food or drinks. When passing a termite mound you should say “tabi tabi po” to excuse yourself out of respect for the nuno.
Dwende, on the other hand are usually attached to a home or household, and may live in the back yard. They’re friendly to humans, if not a little bit mischievous. Leaving a bit of food out for them on the floor is usually one way to keep on their good side. The color that the dwende wear may also indicate its nature: white is kind, red gives protection, green plays with children (there is a similar theme in leprechaun folklore).
Belief in the dwende / nuno may have been brought to the Philippines by the Spanish conquistadors and fused with local animistic religious beliefs.
- Philippine Myths – Dwende and the Engkanto
Related Creatures: hobgoblin, kobold, brownie, gnome, duende (Spanish)
Region of Origin: Asia, Philippines
Don’t laugh, but I think there’s a dwende living in my apartment. I’ve seen it several times and I get a mini heart-attack every time I do. It seems to like me and I heard it once exclaim ‘that’s my girl!’. He’s reddish brown, 3 feet tall, with a pointy chin, straight black hair that falls to his chin, and brown clothes the same color as its skin.
Of course I could just be a bit crazy, but I’m a writer so that’s more than likely.
Have you ever experienced a myth/legend firsthand?