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The Tiyanak is a vampiric creature in Philippine mythology that imitates the form of a child. It usually takes the form of a newborn baby and cries like one in the jungle to attract unwary travelers. Once it is picked up by the victim, it reverts to its true form and attacks the victim. The tiyanak is also depicted to take malevolent delight in leading travelers astray, or in abducting children.
While various legends have slightly different versions of the tiyanak folklore, the stories all agree on its ability to mimic an infant, with its ability to imitate an infant's cries for luring victims. In some legends, the Tiyanak may take the form of a specific child.
- In one version, it retains the general shape of a baby but then forms sharp claws and fangs to attack its victim.
- In another, it shares certain similarities with dwarfs and is similarly associated with the earth. In this version, the "true" form of the tiyanak is that of a little old man with wrinkled skin, a long beard and mustache, a flat nose and eyes the size of peseta coins. The same story says that a tiyanak is relatively immobile because its right leg is much shorter than the other. This deformity forces it to move by leaping rather than walking, making it difficult to hunt or stalk victims, but its ability to mimic an infant's cry compensates for this disadvantage.
- In yet another story it is seen supernaturally flying through the forest (still in the form of a baby) and in a legend from the island of Mindoro it transforms into a black bird before flying away
- In another version from Pampanga, the tiyanak are described as small, nut-brown people who don't walk on the ground but rather float on air. They have large noses, wide mouths, large fierce eyes and sharp voices.
In local belief, various countermeasures are supposedly effective against the tiyanak. Those that were led astray by the creature's cries are believed to be able to break the enchantment by turning their clothes inside out. The tiyanak finds the method humorous enough to let go of the traveler and go back to the jungles. Loud noises such as a New Year's celebration are also thought to be enough to drive the tiyanak away from the vicinity. Objects believed to repel Aswang (vampiric shape-shifters), like garlic and therosary, are also commonly believed to be effective against the tiyanak. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)