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A Kapre Lives in Old Mango Tree in my Asawa’s Elementary School Yard in Guimaras [Flashback* 02.13.2016]

Jeff MD Kapre e

Kapre lives in an old mango tree in my asawa’s elementary school in Guimaras, the island province of the Philippines we call home. According to Wikipedia, a Kapre is a Philippine mythical creature that could be characterized as a tree demon. It is described as being a tall (7 to 9 ft), dark, muscular creature. Kapres are normally described as having a strong smell that would attract human attention. After a sweaty day in the archipelago, I sometimes have a strong smell that repels human attention.

The term kapre comes from the Arabic “kafir”, meaning a non-believer in Islam. The early Arabs and the Moors used it to refer to the non-Muslim Dravidians who were dark-skinned and went to war against the Arabs and Moors.

The term was later brought to the Philippines by the Spanish who had previous contact with the Moors. Some historians speculate that the legend was spread by the Spanish to prevent Filipinos from assisting any escaped African slaves they sometimes imported from Latin America.

The Kapre itself holds a large cigar, an item which originated from the ancient Mayans of Latin America.

Kapres are said to dwell in big trees like acacias, mangoes, bamboo and balete. It is also mostly seen sitting under those trees. The Kapre is said to wear the indigenous Northern Philippine loincloth known as bahag, and according to some, often wears a belt which gives the kapre the ability to be invisible to humans.

Kapres are not necessarily considered to be evil, unlike the Aswang. Kapres may make contact with people to offer friendship, or if it is attracted to a woman. If a Kapre befriends any human, especially because of love, the Kapre will consistently follow its “love interest” throughout life.

Kapres are also said to play pranks on people, frequently making travelers become disoriented and lose their way in the mountains or in the woods. They are also believed to have the ability to confuse people even in their own familiar surroundings; for instance, someone who forgets that they are in their own garden or home is said to have been tricked by a Kapre. Or, perhaps, the disoriented individual has quaffed too many bottles of Red Horse.

Reports of experiencing Kapre enchantment include that of witnessing rustling tree branches, even if the wind is not strong. Some more examples would be hearing loud laughter coming from an unseen being, witnessing lots of smoke from the top of a tree, seeing big fiery eyes during night time from a tree, as well as actually seeing a Kapre walking in forested areas.Jeff MD Kapre

(Kapre Photo Credit: Jeff MD, CG Pinoy, Home of the Filipino Artist)

During a recent Foundation Day Fiesta in Buluangan, Guimaras, located in Jordan municipality, my spouse pointed out the facilities where she attended elementary school some years back. I will not reveal how many years or decades that was, since a wise man should never reveal a woman’s true age, especially if that woman is their wife.

bringing back old school days in guimaras

In the next shot, my asawa is standing in front of the building where she attended her 4th and 5th grade classes. The school grounds were the site of the day’s fiesta festivities which included a street competition and a elementary school queen contest where the contestants all wore gowns made of recycled materials.

school day memories for my asawa in guimaras

My spouse took the opportunity to sit in one of her old school desks and was surprised to find the original floor looked exactly as it did when she attended the elementary school.

back to school for my spouse in guimaras

Here’s the infamous old mango tree where the Kapre is said to live. We have it on good authority from a young man on the premises, who followed me along for awhile, that a giant tree demon still inhabits this tree. The lad, not a bit shy of an expat, spoke at length to my asawa about recent events regarding this tree and also advised my wife, that along with a Kapre, an old man was found to be hanging there.

Indeed, a gruesome event that was revealed by the boy, and it was not clear whether the old man had committed suicide or was lynched. We didn’t pursue the story with any of the locals at the fiesta or any of my asawa’s relatives who live in the area.

old mango tree in guimaras

Here’s one final look at the Kapre’s mango tree which provided a bit of shade for my spouse as we waited for the programs at the school to begin. We never spied a Kapre during our visit but who knows, maybe this Kapre is shy and only comes out at night.

massive mango tree in guimaras where kapre lives


9 thoughts on “A Kapre Lives in Old Mango Tree in my Asawa’s Elementary School Yard in Guimaras [Flashback* 02.13.2016]

  1. I will say that is a wicked looking tree…would fit right in with Halloween in America.

    As far as the Kapre…who knows. I have many filipina friends that are convinced that sprinkling salt around the bed will protect them from all sorts of things…so having a really big demon in the tree is something that is probably readily accepted.

    While some foreigners think filipinos are cookoo for cocoa puffs with stuff like this and make fun of them, I sorta enjoy it. LOL.

  2. Hi Dave, love these old myths makes life a little more interesting do I believe in them
    I’m not sure, but I know a lot of philipinos do look at a few myths in the west
    Big foot, Loch Ness monster, King Arthur ,etc I’ve come to the conclusion you can
    Never rule things out especially if you’ve had a few red horse beers,
    Life is more interesting in the Philippines, Derek in pasig.

  3. Dave,

    I know whenever i point up at a tree i always get an earful from Anne because there may be a kapre up in the tree. She said the kapre gets upset and give you bad luck .

  4. We have received much enjoyment over the years with the Filipino superstitions. I sometimes forget that growing up here in the states we have our own. Don’t walk under a ladder, don’t let a black cat cross in front of you, ect. During our visit to my brother in-laws place I had not heard about the Aswang. In nearly 24 years of marriage I had not heard about this. When he was telling the story about his experience I could see that it put the fear of God in him. He also said that by telling the story he was risking his family to come to harm. I am with Derek on this one. I was taught as a child to not believe in bad dreams or things like that. I think it may have been due to my parents wanting to get some sleep. So I have no idea what is fact. Sure makes for an interesting story though.

    1. Wow, I bet your wife is a believer! That is a great story which could be a book, movie or both. You tell it well. I am not sure what to believe but experiencing something like that might bring me around.

  5. My Grand Mother always told her Grand Kids. That it is not the Spirits or Dead People you have to worry about. But the Living because they could do you more Harm.

  6. Interesting stuff you wrote here. I read somewhere that kapre is the term used by the Spaniards when they’re referring to Africans.

    I’m glad to see an American enjoying himself in the Philippines. I visited Guimaras around two or three years ago and enjoyed the place. Everything is made of mango there even the catsup. 😛

  7. Bungisngis is a one-eyed giant. This Philippine folklore giant lives in forest and woods. It is a happy and a playful cyclops. It is also commonly known as ‘Mahentoy’ in the northern part of Davao.

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