The kapre is a tree-dwelling creature in Philippine mythology. They are invisible to normal people and because they can't be seen, they enjoy playing tricks and confusing people who happen to wander off near their dwelling places. This is why Filipinos living in rural areas suspect Kapres to be the culprit whenever someone suddenly lost track of his trails in the woods or in the mountains without a logical reason.
What Do Kapres Really Look Like?
Although invisible, the kapre is believed to appear as a male tree giant with thick black hair covering his body. It also has a beard. A kapre only wear a loincloth or bahag and possesses an enchanted belt that makes them invincible to the human eye. On the other hand, other accounts mention that kapres appear naked or have leaves covering their private parts.
“He is as tall as the tree beside which he stands…
While some believe that kapres are harmless and just play tricks, more people affirm that there is no such thing as a good kapre. In fact, kapres are lustful creatures and so they are very dangerous especially to women whom they have taken a liking to. This is the reason why there are several accounts about kapres sexually abusing women while conscious or while asleep.
Where Can You Find a Kapre?
Kapres are known to reside specifically in balete or banyan trees, which are known to be sacred trees in ancient times. Acacia, mango, caimito trees and other huge-looking trees can be their dwelling places as well. They are depicted as always smoking tobacco. So when someone hears a rustling of leaves accompanied with a loud laughter and the smell of tobacco emanating from a huge tree, it is believed that a kapre is dwelling there so better run away. Their homes are sometimes covered with an unusually large number of fireflies.
Encounters with a Kapre
Mr. Brown in Malacañang Palace
There were numerous accounts of kapre encounters in the Philippines. Perhaps the most famous of them all is the kapre named "Mr. Brown." It is believed that Mr. Brown started to reside in the century-old balete tree in the Malacañang Palace since the American occupation in the Philippines (thus they called him "Mr. Brown"). This balete tree, which dates back to 1800s, was declared a Heritage Tree under the DENR's Heritage Tree Program. According to Miguel Perez Rubio, Malacañang’s Chief of Protocol, Mr. Brown often plays simple tricks on people like sudden tripping on wires, but nothing serious. He said he is used to sending out greetings like "Good morning, Mr. Brown" or "How are you, Mr. Brown?" in order to avoid Mr. Brown's playful tricks.
First Encounter with a Kapre by Pastor Hiram Pangilinan
Unlike other tales of kapre encounters, Pastor Pangilinan's story possesses much gravity. He believes in the existence of kapres and other Filipino spirit creatures because he has come to wage spiritual battles against these entities, which are thought to be only mythical or legendary creatures in Philippine folklore.
According to him in his book Hula, Multo, Faith Healing, ATBP, his first encounter with a kapre was an eye-opener to him. The story goes like this.
Pastor Pangilinan was called by a garment factory owner to seek help because one of her female employees started exhibiting strange behavior and unbelievable strength. When he went to the factory, he saw a woman being restrained by eight people. Two people holding each of her limbs. If they let her loose, she will only cause chaos in the workplace. According to the woman's colleagues, before this incident, they saw the female employee talking to someone outside the window; however, they can't see anyone there. Then, she went unconscious. According to eyewitnesses, she seemed to lay down slowly on the garment cutting table, and then her skirt was lifted slowly by something invisible. Kiss marks then appeared on her as if someone is making love to her!
Pastor Pangilinan started performing the deliverance of the woman. He spoke directly to the entity inside her and it revealed itself as "kapre" with a large male voice (obviously not that of the woman). Shocked of his first encounter, he continued with his battle. The kapre said that it lives in the tree outside the window near the woman's workstation. It has observed the woman for a long time now and has come to love her that is why it raped her. "In Jesus's name, I command you to leave this woman!" said Pastor Pangilinan, and upon using more spiritual weapons, he succeeded to force the kapre out of the woman after a long battle that lasted 5 hours.
How Can You Defend Yourself from a Kapre?
As the lore says, in order to escape a kapre's trick, you must take off your shirt, turn it inside out, and wear it again. This will undo the kapre's spell on you. Also, when passing by unusually big trees, say "tabi tabi po," which means "excuse me" or "may I pass" so as not to agitate any kapre (in case there is one) residing there.
However, Christians firmly believe that these methods are useless against a kapre. What is needed is sincere and authoritative prayer against these so-called spirit creatures. The Christians who perform deliverance for people who are under the spell of these creatures make use of spiritual weapons (based from the Scriptures) in their spiritual battle. If you get yourself involved with a kapre or have experienced an attack, do not hesitate to seek help! Contact the Archdiocese of Manila, Church So Blessed, and other religious groups. They are very much willing to help you.
Cheng, W. (2011, May 30). 'Kapre' tree in Malacañang named heritage tree. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/.
Pangilinan, H. (2011). Hula, multo, faith healing, ATBP: Exposé ng occult sa Pilipinas. Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
Ramos, M.D. and Reyes, D. (1990). The creatures of midnight. Philippines: Phoenix Publishing House.
Rosen, B. (2009). The mythical creatures bible: the definitive guide to legendary beings. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.