Kapre (also known as Agta in the Visayan dialect (Cebu)) is a Philippine mythical creature that could be characterized as a tree demon, but with more human characteristics. It is described as being a tall (7 to 9 ft), brown, hairy male with a beard. Kapres are normally described as smoking a big tobacco pipe, whose strong smell would attract human attention. 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.
Natural habitat and attire
- Kapres are said to dwell in big trees like acacias, mangoes, bamboo and banyan (known in the Philippines as balete). It is also mostly seen sitting under those trees. The Kapre is said to wear the indigenous Northern Philippine loincloth known as bahag, and according to some, often wears a belt which gives the kapre the ability to be invisible to humans. In some versions, the kapre is supposed to hold a magical white stone, a little smaller in size than a quail egg. Should any person happen to obtain this stone, the kapre could grant wishes.
- Kapres are not necessarily considered to be evil, unlike the manananggal. Kapres may make contact with people to offer friendship, or if it is attracted to a woman. If a kapre befriends any human, especially because of love, the kapre will consistently follow its "love interest" throughout life. Kapres are also said to play pranks on people, frequently making travelers become disoriented and lose their way in the mountains or in the woods. It is also believe to have the ability to confuse people even at their own familiar surroundings; for instance, someone who forgets that they are in their own garden or home are said to be have been tricked by a kapre. Reports of experiencing kapre enchantment include that of witnessing rustling tree branches even if the wind is not strong. Another example would be hearing loud laughter or voice coming from an unseen being; witnessing lots of smoke from the top of a tree; seeing big fiery eyes during night time from a tree; as well as actually seeing a kapre walking by in forested areas. It is also believed that abundant fireflies in woody areas are the embers from the kapre's lit tobacco.