The Philippines has its own share of wonders similar to the famous Atlantis or El Dorado. Among many mysterious and enchanting places, the lost city of Biringan evokes the most awe and intrigue. Stories about this hidden city are particularly popular among the residents of Samar who believe that Biringan is more than just a legend.
Biringan is said to be a place of the engkantos (enchanted ones) in the humble area of Northern Samar in the Philippines. According to the beliefs, Biringan City is a highly advanced metropolitan filled with high-rise architecture and out-of-this-world structures, which are unusual to exist in such a rural area like Samar. Its beauty and grandeur are said to lure humans to come into their realm and stay there forever.
Where Can You Find Biringan City?
The term Biringan means "a place to look for lost people." It has long been believed that whenever a person suddenly goes missing in these parts of Samar, the people will suspect that the engkantos have taken that missing person to Biringan.
There are different theories as to where the exact location of this marvel city is. Some people believe that Biringan City is situated somewhere between Calbayog City and Catarman in the northern part of Samar. Whereas, other accounts point to the southern locale of Samar in around the region of San Jorge or Pagsanghan.
However, no matter how hard people look for, they can't seem to know exactly how to go to Biringan City. According to the townsfolk, the enchanted city of Biringan is engulfed in a spell to hide it from the naked eye. The engkantos of Biringan can only allow a select few to see the wonders of this brilliant city. Those people can go to with the engkantos to Biringan through some magical portals connecting their realm to our world.
It is said that there are a total of seven portals that lead to the city of Biringan. According to a documentary by Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (a Philippine TV program), a huge Balete tree in Pagsanghan serves as one of the portals to this enchanted realm.
According to the townsfolk, the enchanted city of Biringan is engulfed in a spell to hide it from the naked eye. The engkantos of Biringan can only allow a select few to see the wonders of this brilliant city and those people can go to Biringan through some magical portals connecting their realm to our world.
The Engkantos in Biringan
The mysterious city of Biringan is said to be inhabited by engkantos or "the enchanted ones." Engkantos are elemental beings that are believed to be as old as mountains and rivers that flow in these parts of Samar. They have the ability to change their form in whatever creatures they want. Some believed that they walk among humans and when they meet a beautiful lady or a handsome lad who are suitable partners for them, they would put that person in a trance to convince them to come along to Biringan. You can tell if a certain person is really an engkanto if he lacks a philtrum or that vertical crease that runs from below the nose to the upper lip.
Rumor tells that there are two types of engkantos in Biringan: the good engkantos reside within the city, while the evil engkantos roam just outside the vicinity. It is believed that the good ones are those who walk among humans to either learn our ways of life or find a fitting partner to bring back to their world. However, others believe that all engkantos are evil.
Stories of Encounter
The mention of "Biringan" seems to bring uneasiness to the residents of Pagsanghan, one of the suspected locations of Biringan. Some people are afraid to talk about this place because they fear that the engkantos will be angry at them and curse them. However, others believed that not all engkantos of Biringan are evil. Here are two eye-witness accounts (interview by Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho) from those people who saw Biringan with their own eyes.
Potenciana Bordallo’s Story
One of the residents of Samar who claimed to have seen the Lost City of Biringan is Potenciana Bordallo. According to her, when she was only 13 years old, she was out on their backyard at night collecting the hanged laundry. Suddenly, two men appeared out of nowhere and forcibly taken her.
“We first passed by a dark area. There were many grasses. And when we were near Biringan, it was now bright. Then I saw houses that are very big. It was very bright there. There were many people. I was crying and felt terrified.” (Grandma Potenciana) [Interview Translated to English]
She was offered a plate of white rice and another plate of black rice. According to the lore in Samar, in Biringan you are offered with white or black rice. If you choose to eat the black rice, you can never go back in the human realm. Grandma Potenciana refused to eat any food offered to her and requested to be taken back because her mother will get mad at her.
According to her, the men from Biringan meant no harm. She was taken to Biringan because a resident of Biringan whom she named as “Romi” had taken a liking to her and offered that she stays with him in Biringan. However, Potenciana declined and would want to be just friends with them instead.
Pablita Gallos’s Story
Interview with Pablita Gallo, a person who claimed to have seen the lost City of Biringan (Credit: Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho )
It was in the year 1979. Pablita went out to go to his father and deliver his meal. It was already night time when she went on her way back home. Little by little, it seemed that she lost her way. She continued to walk until she reached a place where there were tall and bright buildings, the one they believed to be the hidden City of Biringan. She said that in Biringan, there were a lot of people. However, it was very quiet. She said that during that time, there were still no electricity in their area (so it was mind-boggling indeed).
This story is sent by a girl named Annie to MOR, a popular radio station in the Philippines. The radio drama episode tackles the story of how Annie's friend Rita went to Samar with some of their classmates for vacation. There, an engkanto has taken a liking to Rita and she never came back home. Listen to the full story below.
Bugkot: Spirited Away
The lore of Biringan is deeply engraved in the hearts of the people of Samar. While some individuals have openly told people that they have indeed been abducted by the engkantos of Biringan, others are afraid to even mention the name of the place in fear that the engkantos will take them too.
In some parts of Samar, it is believed that whenever someone was involved in an accident, caught a mysterious illness, or suddenly disappeared, it is possible that that person is being taken by an engkanto to Biringan, especially when that person is attractive. The Warays call it "bugkot" or being spirited away.
In "bugkot," it is believed that the lifeless body of the person is actually a log of some sort that is casted with a spell to make it look like a person, where in fact, the spirit or the consciousness of that person is being taken to the realm of the engkantos, leaving the log behind appearing as a dead body.
What do you think?
Is it real? Or just a product of wild imagination?
(Article Updated: November 11, 2018)
Anderson, L. (2013, January 19) Ghost, invisible and mysterious city, Biringan Samar Leyte. Retrieved from http://mostinterestingfilescollected.blogspot.com/2013/05/ghost-invisible-and-mysterious-city.html
Clark, J. (2016, September 17). Biringan City, Philippines / Invisible City / Engkanto. Retrieved from https://www.aswangproject.com/biringan-city/
GMA Public Affairs. (2017, April 17). Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho: The lost city of Biringan (Video file). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPQJJE9CDwU&t=218s
MOR 101.9 For Life!. (2017, December 6). Dear MOR uncut: "Biringan" the Annie story 10-29-17 (Video file). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iW7eg39M9U&t=6s