The Legend of Kapre

Kapre is another popular mythological creature from the Philippines. It is characterized as a menacing creature that seeks refuge in big trees and displays human physical attributes but with taller height at about 7 to 10 feet and more hairy with thick beard, brown skin and deep eyes that makes them appear more menacing than ordinary human beings.


A Kapre is usually depicted as sitting on a large tree trunk smoking a huge tobacco that emits smoke that produces a strong aroma that will attract it’s human prey’s attention. They are indeed one of the scariest mythological creatures told through generation from generation in the Philippines. Most considered them as just a pigment of the wide imagination of man, but a growing number of people especially in the countryside have been reporting sightings of these mythological beasts

The term “kapre” was derived from the Arabic term “kaffir”, meaning a non believer in Africans. It is also related to the Spanish term “kapfre”. According to historical accounts, the early Moors and Arabs used that term to signify persons who are non-Muslims and who possesses dark complexion. By having contact with the Moors, the term later on find its way in the language of the Philippines by the Spanish in their more than three century of colonizing the Philippines.

The legend of the kapre lingers on and still very much alive and infused in the consciousness of Filipinos. Scores of people from the countryside have reported sightings of a mysterious creature atop a big tree, usually an acacia, bamboo, narra, banyan (known locally as balete) and mango trees. Sometimes a kapre can be seen sitting unmindfully under those trees as well.

Wearing only a bahag, a locally made loincloth underwear that covers only the private part of a person, typical cases has the kapre sporting a belt which the elders believe gives the kapre a magical power that makes them invisible to the naked eyes anytime they don’t want to be seen.

Kapres are not entirely described as pure evil unlike other Philippine mythological creatures such as the aswang and the manananggal. Kapres sometimes develops fascination with human beings and had them reaching out to human beings with the intention of offering a sincere kind of friendship, in some cases kapres are found to develop being attracted and smitten to a woman.

In this case, it will become a frightening situation for any woman to attract the attention of a kapre because it is learned that when a kapre fell in love with a female human being, they will pursue this love throughout the life of that particular woman and tales of a kapre doing everything in his power just to get the heart of a girl ran abounds through generations past.

Most of the stories about close encounters with kapres involve pranks played by kapres on humans. Not too long ago a dozen of mountain climbers climbing a mountain in a scenic Philippine province of Batanggas, become disoriented thus losing sense of their direction. They decided to leave marks on the trails that they already passed by only to find themselves passing back that same place over and over again.

Until a local man about 70 years old that lives near the mountain heard their call and helped them by reciting a prayer and a ritual that pays homage and respect to the kapres asking them to stop the pranks being played on the mountain climbers. After a few minutes the climbers went on with their downward trek and were able to find the right place to lowland again.

Some witnesses reports seeing a tree shaking its tree branches and leaves violently even if there’s an absence of a strong wind. Strong and loud laughter that sends a chilling after effect on the ears of people around the vicinity of a tree that a kapre resides in are also reported as one of the exhibition of existence of this mythological creature.

Although they don’t harm people all the time, just the way they display their existence as told by people who believed that they have seen and proven that the kapres really exists swears that the sight of them smoking from atop of a tree and staring down on you with those huge, fiery and haunting eyes is enough to make anybody run like hell.

Whatever the truth about this interesting mythological creature that originated in the Philippines, myth or fact? It continues to dazzle the mind and the interest of everyone. Scary at times, romanticize in some accounts of their pursuit of beautiful women, playful, cigar lover. All these add up to the mystery and what fascinates ordinary people into believing the real existence of kapres and makes even the skeptics to have an open mind regarding the possibility that kapres do really exist.

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