A diwata, also known as encantada (engkantada), is a mythical creature or goddess in Philippine mythology. Diwatas are similar to Western fairies or nymphs, possessing supernatural powers. Diwatas are avatars of Nature, which, as an active and potent force, may either bring good or evil, blessings or curses to people.
Early Filipinos refer to the diwata as gods and not mere fairies or nymphs. Each diwata inhabits an exclusive abode by which he or she becomes the owner. To early Waray people, the forest diwatas were the guban-on to which the forestlands and everything in it belongs. Bilaan, the forest diwatas are the fieu awas who often dances when revealing themselves to people. The Manobo forest goddess is Lalawag to whom hunters offer a ritual to gain approval or permission to hunt in her abode. The most famous forest diwata is probably Maria Makiling who is said to live in a mountain range in Laguna province. The diwatas living in bodies of water like seas, rivers and waterfalls are called lawudnun in Samar while the ones living in the air are called digkusanun. The digkusanuns are said to be the most jealous and menacing of all the Waray diwatas. They are the ones believed to cause "inexplicable" illnesses and loss of senses. A ritual called pagmayaw is performed to appease an angered digkusanun. A table laden with foods served as an altar of offering around which the pagmayaw is done. A similar food offering is placed in a small bamboo raft and is floated on a river or sea by supplicant fishermen who ask for a bountiful haul. A live chick is also tied securely on the raft to call te attention of the lawudnons; the shreik of the chick is said to be very pleasant to the lawudnun.
Diwatas live in trees, caves, hills and mountains, and streams and lakes. They curse those who trespass within their premises while showing blessings or favors on folks whom they perceive to be good of heart.
Appearance and characteristics
Anyone asked to describe what a diwata looks like would simply say they are pearl-skinned, long haired, (varies from golden to blond or silky black) and about the same size humans. Diwatas are beautiful and charming and exert great attraction to mortals who behold them.
- Diwatas and engkantos are fallen angels, that is, those who refused to worship God. They were cast down to earth because of their irreverence.
- Diwatas are angered when hit by water or salt.
- When passing by large trees, anthill or on unfamiliar places, don't forget to ask permission or the diwata will be angered.
- Diwatas fall in love with humans; however, humans who return their love will inevitably sicken or die. The dead lover's soul will be taken to the diwatas' kingdom.
- They live in a golden palace.
- They can assume the appearance of any ordinary person.
- Diwatas ride in golden chariots pulled by white stallions.
The male version of a diwata is known as Encantado (encanto, engkantado). Appearance varies; they may take the form of good-looking men, or, conversely, ugly beasts.
Diwatas are worshiped as guardians of nature. They are also believed to be deities. In Philippine Mythology these are the various known diwatas:
- Maria Makiling – The Tagalog diwata and guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna.
- Kan-Laon – Southern Visayan guardian of Mount Kanlaon.
- Anitan – Guardian of lightning.
- Ngilin – Kalinga malevolent water deity which looks like a human pygmy.
- Tigbalog – Aeta guardian of life and activity.
- Lueve – Aeta guardian of production and growth.
- Panlinugun – Central Panay diwata of tremors.
- Inaiyaw – Goddess of the weather of the Manobo tribe.
- Kakaidan – Manobo guardian of rice fields.
- Ongli – Supreme diwata of the Manobos
- Cahoynons – Fairies who lives in forests and trees.
- Batanguon – Ugly and poor fairies.
The Manobo belief
The Diwata are the primary deities of the Manobos who believe that they dwell in the upper heavens. One story about the Diwatas is that they lived in the Manoboland as ordinary humans. As time passed they built a structure made of stone for themselves in the sky and they were transformed into divine beings. After this event, they cut off their communication with the Manobos.
A Filipino comic character created by Gener Pedrina is called Diwata (real name: Maria Klarissa Valiente), a human-encantada hybrid who uses her power for the good of mankind.
Movies and TV shows
- Among the members of the superhuman group called the Pintados (GMA-7 fantaserye) is Diwata (real name: Reewa Zulueta) played by Angelika dela Cruz.
- In MZET Production's Okay Ka, Fairy Ko shown on GMA-7 features a diwata named Fey who marries a human named Enteng Kabisote. The Diwatas' kingdom is known as the Engkantasya where Fey's mother, Ina Magenta, is the queen. Okay ka, Fairy Ko also had several film spin-offs, starring Vic Sotto as Enteng and Kristine Hermosa as Fey.
- A full-blown diwata story was produced for television by GMA-7, a fantaserye entitled Encantadia. This is the story of four sisters who respectively act as guardians of water, fire, earth and wind and are collectively known as the Sang'gre, diwatas of royal lineage.
- “Engkantos and Engkantadas.” ThinkQuest Library. (Accessed on 19 September 2007).
- Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.