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Kapre : The Smelly Giant

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At a glance

Description
Origin Philippine Mythology
Classification Hybrids
Family Members N/A
Region Philippines
Associated With Gigantism, Strength, Invisibility

Kapre

Introduction

The Kapre is a type of mythical creature in the Philippines that’s commonly referred to as a tree demon. It’s described as a tall and hairy brown-haired creature with a strong smell. In addition, it’s believed that these individuals would typically smoke a tobacco pipe, which would draw the attention of humans. Kapres are said to dwell in big trees like acacias, mangoes, bamboo and banyan (known in the Philippines as balete). It is also mostly seen sitting under those trees.

Physical Traits

The dark humanoid creature known as Kapre is characterized by its large, hairy face and distinct odor. It is said to be around 7 to 9 feet tall, and its brown and creamy-colored beard makes it look like a gorilla. In addition, people typically notice its pungent aroma when it smokes a large marijuana pipe and it’s distinct body odour. It’s believed that the Kapre wears a loincloth made of the Northern Philippines’ indigenous fabric called bahag. Some say that its belt makes it invisible to people.

Family

Kapre have been known to fall in love with humans and there are many stories about what happens next. In one story, the woman refused to go with him several times, but eventually agreed to go with him after he invited her to his paradise. According to the woman, her soul was taken with him and her body was left in a state of unconsciousness.

The man was kind to the woman, and she was surprised by the amount of food and the beautiful surroundings. She had never seen such a place in her life. He even gave her an engagement ring.

The man would continue offering the woman food, but she would not eat. It’s believed that if she accepts his offer, he will take her soul, and he will no longer leave her. He became infuriated, and turned into a monster and let her go. Healers or albularyos helped in getting rid of the devil or kapre by performing rituals or food offerings and bringing her back to life.

Other names

Kapre is derived from the Arabic word “kaffir,” which literally means “non-believer.” The term was first used by the Moors and Arabs to refer to Dravidians who were not Muslims. It eventually made its way to the Philippines through the Spaniards, who had previously been in contact with the local Moors. According to historians, the legend was created to prevent Philipino from helping African slaves.

Powers and Abilities

Although Kapres aren’t considered to be evil, they can be found frequently in relationships with humans. They can also be seen making friends with people or being attracted to women. If they become attached to a human, they will continue following their love interest throughout their lives. In addition, they’re known to play pranks on others, causing people to get lost or disoriented.

It’s also believed that Kapre can confuse people even in their own homes. For example, it’s said that a person who forgets that their home is their own is being tricked by the creature.

People have reported witnessing Kapre enchantment, such as witnessing tree branches rustling even if the wind isn’t powerful. They have also reportedly heard a loud laughter or a voice from an unseen being, and they have seen Kapre walking in the forest. It’s believed that the glowing embers from the creature’s tobacco are the reason why many fireflies are seen in woody areas.

Modern Day Influence

The origins, evolution, and history of the Kapre are explored in the 2015 documentary series, Creatures of Philippine Mythology. The program starts in the Philippines, where animist beliefs led to the creation of a black spirit that watched over people from the trees. It also learned why the creature would always smoke cigars.

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