An Artist’s Rendition of a Kapre:
URL of image: http://tx.english-ch.com/teacher/jocelyn/others/philippine-mythical-creatures/
What is a Kapre:
This Filipino tree demon looks like a great mixture of human and ape. It is generally a giant, 8 feet tall, with black or brown, long course hair including a beard and eyes that burn like a cigar tip. Its favorite activities include smoking cigars, misleading travelers, tricking little children wandering around the woods at night (honestly, why are children always wandering the woods?), gambling, and drinking. This beast is often compared with the North American Bigfoot, or the Yeti. They have giant tree-thick legs, long fingernails and sharp teeth. It is generally a prankster that enjoys confusing people, sometimes even taking away little bits of their memories so they can’t find their way home, and is not particularly violent (like most Filipino monsters). Also known as the Tikbalang or Agta in the Visayan dialect. Their biggest fashion statement is wearing a bahag (much like shorts), but beyond that they roam the forests au-naturale. For some reason often pictured with dreads, but there’s nothing to suggest that all Kapres wear their hair in dreads.
Where can you find one?
First, you have to be in the Philippines. The Kapres enjoy hanging out in giant trees, like the Mango, Acacia, Bamboo, Narra or Balete (Banyan) trees. He can generally be found sitting in the shade, smoking his cigar or up in the branches just enjoying the good life of being a mythical beast that is generally invisible to the naked human eye unless he wants to be seen. They can also live in abandoned houses or ruins, but your best bet of finding one is in giant trees.
But if they’re invisible, how you can tell if a Kapre’s nearby?
So, having established that Kapres are fond of smoking cigars, oftentimes you can smell them without ever having to see them. They smell strongly of tobacco smoke, and sometimes you can get a glimpse of their red-coal eyes staring down at you as you take your nightly forest stroll. Oftentimes people who have had an encounter with a Kapre report hearing loud laughs from the trees or see leaves rustling when there’s no wind or animals nearby. If you happen to have an ember nearby and its glowing, this means the Kapre is in a mischievous mood. Also, if you find yourself getting constantly lost, chances are a Kapre’s playing little mind tricks on you.
Alright, so what does a Kapre do exactly?
What, being invisible and playing pranks isn’t enough for you people? Ok, alright, so in general Kapres are go-lucky chill beasts, but if you get one angry… First and foremost, the Kapre isn’t like the Bigfoot or Yeti because it isn’t really a beast or an animal. It’s more of an elemental being, so whatever it’s going to do with you won’t be just a mauling with its fingers. Kapres can make you sick, or cause you great harm. Also, they’re apparently very much fond of falling in love with human women (not enough Kapre females to go around, I guess), so they often abduct women from their homes (let’s not go into details about what happens to the women once abducted by this Cupid-struck monstrosity). The poor saps are highly romantic and are said to follow around their female love interest for her entire life. They become very possessive of their female ‘lovers’, or women they fall in love with, and often won’t let any human male have her. Recall that generally they are gentle pranksters, but once they become jealous lovers they turn quite violent. A personal favorite prank that Kapres are inclined to indulge is taking someone’s bed, while occupied, out of their house and putting them up in the branches of a tree without waking up the occupant.
How to not get tricked by a Kapre:
So, if you don’t want a Kapre to be mean to you here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re safe. First off, don’t court a woman who’s being romanced by a Kapre. Just don’t do it. If you don’t want a Kapre to keep getting you lost in a forest, wear your shirt inside-out (why didn’t I think of that? I mean compasses are useless anyways). Also, when passing under a giant tree, assume a Kapre’s hanging, and so not to offend the Kapre make sure to ask for permission to pass his tree. And one last thing: don’t make too much noise in the forest. Kapres are cigar-loving, tree-top dwelling giants, so please, keep your boombox volume at a 0.
What are the Origins (or theoretical origins) of the Kapre?
To quote Fonzi Christ (because even I get tired of trying to make original content): ”The term kapre comes from the Arabic “kaffir” 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. 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 propagated by the Spanish to prevent Filipinos from assisting any escaped African slaves.” From the website: http://tx.english-ch.com/teacher/jocelyn/others/philippine-mythical-creatures/
Although if this is the origin theory, what’s with the cigar smoking? But it kinda makes sense why they have dread locks.
Sightings by People:
An Australian mother whose daughter (and herself later) has an experience with a Kapre: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=65827
About.com apparently has a Paranormal Phenomena page of Your True Stories. This one is a girl recalling her brother’s experience with a Kapre in the Philippines: http://paranormal.about.com/library/blstory_august04_20.htm
Some whose spinster grand-aunt had a Kapre who fell in love with her and the odd misfortunes that befell any of her suitors: http://silentreed.hubpages.com/hub/a-scary-love-story
Where do I get my information?
Unexplained-mysteries.com, Kapre sighting in Philippines discussion board: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=65827
About.com Paranormal Phenomena Your True Stories page. Vanessa Bonifacio: http://paranormal.about.com/library/blstory_august04_20.htm
Hubpages: A Scary Love Story and Stories about the Philippines Kapre Legend: http://silentreed.hubpages.com/hub/a-scary-love-story
Kapre-WikiPilipinas: The Hip ‘n Free Philippine Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Kapre
Kapre: the Philippine Bigfoot. The Moonlit Window: http://themoonlitwindow.blogspot.com/2008/10/kapre-philippine-bigfoot.html
Mythical Creatures of the Philippine Folklore from Fonzation: http://www.fonzoire.co.cc/2008/09/creatures-of-dark-of-philippine.html
Filipino Monsters Vol. 1 discussion forum: http://godspawns.forumotion.com/t42-filipino-monsters-vol-1