The Philippine history has no specific date of the conception of the Filipino society. Accounts of the first settlers of Aetas, Indones, and Malay are written in history books. However, one thing is sure: the first Filipinos were animist, spirit-believing, superstitious people. They lived their lives around the spirits wanting everything in perfect harmony. Superstitions were made to put rules with regards to interacting with these spirits.
Superstitions are not necessarily bad and not defined as all good. In the Philippines, superstitions were made to make the people belonging in a certain society to observe the rules and unspoken rules of the belief system that is ruling at that time. The Filipino superstitions are a mixture of different and sometimes contradicting culture. These superstitions came from the Chinese, Malay, and Indian and features animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism in one superstitious belief system. The current superstitions passed in the 21st century generation may or may not be the original when compared ten centuries ago.
Once again, superstitions were made to keep the cultural boundary in place. Filipinos value the belief system and world view of its society that is why superstitions became subtle rules to be followed or else punished by a bigger set of laws: bad luck, karma, and vibes.
Across time and across generations, here are the top five Filipino superstitions that are so prevalent that they are embedded in the culture and no amount of modernization and technology can erase them completely. These five superstitious beliefs are chosen because of the wide influence that they have across the islands of the Philippines and transcending even the religious boundaries:
1. Sweeping the floor at night will bring you bad luck. The night is always equated with darkness. And darkness is not good to any individual for it is believed that the bad spirits and elements rule during night time. Any activity done at night should be carefully executed for fear of being punished by the spirits lurking at night. Sweeping is a figurative action of removing something from one’s own home. Sweeping at night therefore becomes a terrible combination that is why it is believed to carry bad luck. This superstition believes that sweeping at night drives away the wealth that wants to come in at one’s home.
2. A soon to be bride should not try on her wedding gown. Wedding gowns are supposed to be worn only during the day of the wedding. Trying on the wedding gown would open the door for bad things to happen to the bride or the groom. It is widely believed that trying on the wedding gown prior to the wedding day is making some spirits angry and therefore brings disaster for a wedding not to happen. It is either one of the couple will be hurt or worse, die. Or some big problem will come that will postpone the wedding. Some also believes that a family member of either the bride and the groom will die before the wedding day.
3. A butterfly flying around you means a loved-one has died. This superstition believes that a butterfly is a carrier of the spirit of a dead person. A butterfly that flies around you and lingers is carrying a sad message. Someone you know and love just died. The color of the butterfly also has a significant. Violet means that someone is about to die. Black means someone just died. Yellow and other colors means that the spirit of a dead loved one is just around you, wanting to be with you.
4. Taking a bath at night and sleeping with wet hair will result to blindness. Taking a bath at night is bad for the health- believers of this superstition will say. It is believed that taking a bath at night slowly depletes your blood and one will eventually feel weak because of unexplained blood loss. This blood loss does not necessarily mean a “seen” blood loss. The blood just simply disappears inside the body. Coupled with this belief is the belief that sleeping with wet hair will result to blindness. You should not expect any medical explanation regarding this matter. The superstition only says the action and the result. Some says that sleeping with wet hair will cause the “dried-out water” to go to your eyes and will make your eyes blurry, and then will cost you your eyesight.
5. The center in the picture of threes will die. This is a threat to the picture-loving Filipinos. Taking a picture should be done in any groups and in any number except threes. It is widely believed that taking a picture with three members is bad luck. The one in the center is going to die. The act of putting him or her in the center is like telling the bad spirits to take that person’s soul. It is like “volunteering” that person to be next on the death list of the death spirits.
These top five superstitions in the Philippines are the most known, widely believed and the most practiced of all the superstitions in the Philippines. They cut through the religious beliefs, social classes, age, and even economic background.
There are over a hundred different superstitions in the Philippines. This number balloons to almost a thousand when variations are counted in each province. In some instances, sub superstitions are made to suit the other existing superstitions. Other groups superstitions according to an event or occasion like a birthday, death, pregnancy, and even trivial activities like taking a bath.
It does not matter if this century is very modernized and westernized. Superstitions are always present in the consciousness of a Filipino. Even if there are no scientific or medical proofs that these superstitions and the results are true, superstitions remain very powerful in the culture and social aspect of the Filipino life. This is very evident especially to the elderly members of the Filipino population. They are the ones who pass these beliefs to the next generation. The next generation is responsible to pass these superstitions to the next generation too.