THE KAPRE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND EASTERN SAMAR
Recently, I watched videotape of Dr. Grover Krantz's speech, which was given on the subject of the Chinese Wildman (Yeh-ren, pronounced 'yāā-wren) at the 1997 Bigfoot Symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia. Krantz's speech covering his China trip was well worth watching. It was interesting, comprehensive and dotted with Krantz's own style of humor.
What caught my attention was the last question posed to Dr. Krantz at the end of his speech during a question and answer session, offered by someone in the darkened audience. The shadowed figure listening in the auditorium stood and asked if Krantz had heard anything about a sasquatch-type creature in the Philippines. His reply was no, he had not. Hearing Krantz's remark seemed unusual in that I had received several emails indicating there was "some kind of bigfoot-like" creature that Filipinos in San Diego were indeed willing to talk about. I have heard several instances of a creature on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
A few weeks ago I was exchanging email with a local San Diegan, a black-belt Karate expert who had questions and a deep curiosity about Bigfoot sightings in the mountainous region of San Diego County where I lived. After a few interesting email exchanges, I detected more than just a passing interest in the creature on his part; I inquired. He told me he had an experience with a similar creature only in another country. I responded by asking what country? "The Philippines" he replied. Surprised again and deeply interested in whatever he may have to relate about this Filipino creature, I asked him to recount his experience for me.
He told me he had seen a massive hairy creature the Filipinos call the "Kapre." It is pronounced "cup-pray" and I should probably mention here that this creature alleged to be in the Philippines should not be confused with the Kouprey seen recently grazing in a field clearing in the highlands of Vietnam.
The description he gave me of the Kapre basically fit the Bigfoot/Sasquatch in North America with the exception, the Kapre is said to be of a greater height and shoulder mass. According to my source [who didnt wish to have his name on the Internet] it is much bigger all round than he imagined the creature of the Pacific Northwest.
He went on to say this region they called "Laguna" is a province in the Philippines. "We live at the foot of Mount Makiling," he said " which is known to be a mysterious place about an hour south of Manila on the island of Luzon. Anyway when I was a kid our house was in the outskirts of town, in a radish field," he told me, adding "my grandnanny used to tell me she would always find giant human looking footprints in our backyard, but she didn't see any of these creatures. Then one day me and my bud saw something from afar. Because it fit the description, we believed it to be the Kapre."
I encouraged him to tell me more about this creature. He wrote "the Kapre is a giant hairy man being, it walks upright like man and had hair on its body. It is said to peel the skin off men, for what reason I don't know and they were also known as cigar smokers, and would always try to mislead people into getting lost in the woods."
This email sparked further interest on my part. Remembering that I had occasion to work with several wonderful and highly educated Filipino nurses, I looked up their names and placed a phone call to Bulacan in the Philippines. Bulacan is on the opposite side of the island from the province of Laguna, but in the same proximity to the rain forests of Mt. Makiling, south of Manila.
The phone call I had with the delightfully soft spoken Meena Teroy was interesting. She said for as many generations as her family can recall, there have always been giant hairy gorilla-looking men living in caves that dot the lush rain forests of Mt. Makiling. To mainlanders, the island's Mt. Makiling isn't all that high from sea level. Its elevation is 1,110 meters. She was quick to say she never heard of any incidents where women were carried off, nor had she heard of the cigar smoking story. When talking about the Kapre I noticed Meena would reverently lower her voice into a whisper but spoke of the creature freely and with credible certainty. "We must respect the Kapre's right to be here and he will not harm us," she said. "The creature comes in the night, and if we give him great respect, the Kapre will leave fresh fish in place of cooked rice left out for them, and sometimes fruit from the mountain rain forests. My grandmother prepares cooked coconut in rice because she says they like sweet fruits and especially the Tamarind fruit, papaya, mangos and bananas. If it is sweetened with ground cane sugar, they leave many fishes and more fruit. Grandmother says these creatures are people oriented and its their way of begging for more. The pans are licked clean and left in the same place."
Speaking freely, she continued "The footprint of the Kapre has fatter toes than man and is twice the size and width. I don't know its measurement. We do know they come in the night when the air is still, because the air is foul smelling - oh terrible - and my grandmother says 'they are here.' When I was young, that signaled bedtime and to be very quiet."
Teroy, a tiny 4' 11" told me "they walked upright like men do, are well over 8 feet tall, hairy and very gorilla looking but with a face like a man. Sound familiar? Teroy also stated that they climbed the Tamarind trees and take the fruit and would sometimes ravage the vegetable gardens which she called "victory gardens," a left over phrase from World War 2. Sometimes the Kapre are considered a general nuisance with coconuts, pounding them on lava rock or stones to open them and on occasion they would leave a pile of them at respected huts of the other islanders.
Curious, I mentioned these two stories story to a biologist friend in the Eastern U.S. who mentioned he had met a Dr. and Mrs. Vaughan Pratt in 1981 in Hingham Massachusetts while doing his postdoctorate at Boston University. Pratt took his Filipino wife Dolly and three children and moved back to Manila in 1991 where he still maintains a veterinary practice. Dolly had heard of the idea that women are carried off by hairy ape-men in the Philippines.
If you consider that the islands of Borneo & Sumatra are the general habitat for the Orangutan, it is not out of the realm of possibility to believe these stories from the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The uninhabited forest on that island is situated in the area of Mt. Makiling. This legendary mountain, famous for its lush rainforest, looks like a woman lying down with contours that resemble her long hair, arms, and legs.
The mountain is named after Mariang Makiling (Mary of Makiling), a young woman whose spirit is said (by folkloric terms) to live in and protect the mountain. She is said to be young and beautiful with dark skin, brown eyes and long hair. The native people say that they have seen her sitting quietly on a rock with a sad and serious expression. They say, on quiet nights, she plays sad and mysterious music from a harp. However, when people try to follow the sound to find her, they get lost in the forest. Today, the people say they don't see or hear her play the harp anymore. Some say this was because Mariang Makiling is saddened by the way people have treated her mountain. Mining activities have stripped the mountain of its beauty. Mt Makiling is the source of the famous Los Baños hot springs, home of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Additionally, the mountain has a well-established trail. Near the jump-off point is a "Mud Spring" park where sulfuric vents can be seen. Mt. Makiling is actually an inactive volcano, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the volcanic habitat of the ape-men of Mt. St. Helens written about by Fred Beck in his book "I Fought the Ape-Men Of Mt. St. Helens."
As with the tribal beliefs found among the Sherpas and various peoples indigenous to the Himalayan landscape, home of the yeti or the ABSM, the Philippines also has its pagan convictions, folklore and superstitions.
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