When I was little, my biggest fear was not getting spanked or scolded; rather, it was being haunted by the characters - imaginary or otherwise - that my parents made up. While I never actually saw these ghouls with my two eyes, I had conjured up images of them in my mind, and these were enough to scare me out of my wits.
Now a mother myself, I’m guilty of using the same tactic with my son when he was younger. We’ve even come up with our own “monster” (named Irong Taba, which I think is of Kapampangan origins), who is conveniently just a knock away when times call for it.
We’ve rounded up the 10 most-feared characters we use to scare our kids:
1. Mamaw / Mumu
A general term that refers to any underworld creature, the term mumu is derived from the term multo, which originates from the Spanish word “muerte,” meaning death. A “mumu” is believed to be the lost spirit of a departed loved one, and while its appearance is yet to be decided on, the taunting manner by which adults say “Ayan na ang mumu” is enough to shush a grumpy baby.
The aswang, according to Wikipedia, is “human-like by day but transforms into different monstrous forms to harass and eat awake humans at night, especially pregnant women who are about to give birth.” This makes it easy to tell your kid to listen, lest he be haunted by that random stranger passing by who turns into an aswang at night.
The maligno is said to be a spirit without a body. It harms people when they do something to displease them, such as disturb a place they inhabit, usually an old tree. It's therefore an effective panakot to tell kids that a maligno will take them if they wander too far out of your sight.