In comparison to other Philippine folklore identities out there like the Tiyanak or the White Lady, the Diwata does not invoke fear. This mythological being does not appear in your rear view mirror to scare you nor does this being lure you into torture. Instead, the diwata is a mythological figure that is more so praised than frightened by the Philippine people.
What is a Diwata?
The diwata resembles fairies or nymphs and are also known to be gods and goddesses—a role placed upon them in pre-colonial times. 400+ years ago, many believed the diwatas resembled a higher being. According to the Tagbanua mythology, the diwatas are considered similar to the Bathala and Kan-Laon; meaning they’re the prime creators of both the world and human beings.
But more simply many believe diwatas are the guardian spirits of nature.
With their deep affinity for forests, mountains and seas, they are the protective force against any whom wish to endanger the lands of the Philippine people. With that said they would only cause misfortune to those whom wish to harm nature or to those whom disrespect them wholly.
Otherwise the Diwata are beautiful, compassionate and gentle beings. In fact, many Pilipinos in pre-colonial times would call upon these Philippine fairies for natural blessings. For instance when Pilipinos desired positive crop growth or better health, many looked to a diwata to provide that fortune.
It’s clear the term “diwata” has taken on various meanings since its conception in pre-colonial times. But the term alone serves another importance; it can serve as a representation of a certain region in the Philippines based on the term is used. For example, the word “diwata” is used in the Southern Philippines, whereas the parallel term “anito” is more prevalent in the Northern areas. So whichever term is used an individual can initially determine where he/she is originally from.
Types of Diwatas:
To identify a male the term used is “encanto.”
To identify a female the term used is “encantanda.”
Both diwatas live in different parts of nature. The female diwatas are primarily in large trees such as the acacia while the male diwatas are present in the sea.
For Pilipino fishermen, it is tradition to recognize the encanto after a day’s bountiful catch. They often throw meat into the ocean as a sign of giving thanks to the male diwata.
The diwatas appear as regular human beings except for some distinct features. They do not possess a philtrum and they are absent of any wrinkles on their body. They also seem ageless. They’re considered to be one of the most beautiful beings in Philippine mythology with their smooth and fair skin. The color of their skin is pale, which during pre-colonial times many believed that to be a sign of supernatural abilities.
- Maria Makiling, the guardian of Mount Makiling located in the Laguna province
- Maria Sinukuan, the guardian of Mount Arayat located in the Pampanga province
- Maria Cacao, the guardian of Mount Lantoy located in Argao, Cebu
Share your stories
Do you, your family members or friends know any additional stories about Diwatas? Share your thoughts and stories about Diwatas with the entire BakitWhy.com community either as a comment to this post or as a Blog.