Kapre (also known as Agta in the Visayan dialect) is a Philippine mythical creature with the appearance of an unnaturally tall, long-legged, black hairy man, that sits in big trees and smokes. It is often seen waiting for people as they walk through a path, to scare and cast spells on them. Kapres enjoy drinking, smoking, and gambling. It has also been described as similar to the North American "bigfoot", but with more human characteristics.
The term kapre was derived from the Spanish word kapfre, a term the Spaniards used to refer to Moors, and from the Arabic "kaffir", a non-believer of Islam. Early Arabs used it to refer to the non-Muslim Dravidians, and the term was later brought to the Philippines by the Spanish conquistadors who had previous contact with the Moors.
Kapres are said to live in large trees (such as balete, acacia, or mango), or in abandoned houses or ruins. It is believed that they appear only at night. They are commonly seen sitting atop a tree, usually an acacia, bamboo, narra, banyan (known locally as balete) and mango trees while smoking a trunk-sized cigar that never burns out. Sometimes they can be seen sitting unmindfully under those trees as well.
Most considered them as just a pigment of the wide imagination of man, but a growing number of people especially in the countryside have been reporting sightings of these mythological beasts.
A kapre is usually described as tall (7 to 9 ft.), brown or sometimes black, hairy man with a beard, wearing a bahag with a band that goes around the waist. They have big eyes, sharp teeth, long fingernails and huge trunk-like legs. They smoke big tobacco pipes, whose strong smell attracts human attention.
- Tama is a wicked giant of the Manobo myth who entices travelers with cunning calls and other ruses. Said to live in balete trees, Tamas are also believed to be giant spirits of unknown wilds.
- Apila and Mandayangan are Manobo giant creatures who wrestle each other and are harmless to humans.
- Mangaluk is a giant forest monster, described as a black, human-like creature with wings and talon claws.
- A glowing ember means the presence of a kapre in a mischievous mood.
- The kapre indulges in human vices such as drinking, gambling and smoking.
- Kapres are said to be harmless if not provoked, and can be kind creatures if not offended or taken for granted.
- One must ask permission ("tabi-tabi po") when passing by big trees, so as not to offend the kapre.
Stories about close encounters with kapres involve pranks played by kapres on humans. They are said to be able to move a bed with its occupant from a house onto a tree branch. They also have the ability of disorienting people and lose their way in the mountains or in the woods. Some witnesses reports seeing a tree shaking its tree branches and leaves violently even if there’s an absence of a strong wind. Strong and loud laughter that sends a chilling effect on the ears of people around the vicinity of a tree that a kapre resides in are also reported as one of the proof of existence of this mythological creature.
- Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.
- "Mythical Creatures of the Philippines." Associated Content, 10 March 2006. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/21178/mythical_creatures_of_the_philippines.html (Accessed on September 14, 2007).
- Viloria. (accessed on November 3, 2008).