In the folklore of the Tinguian tribe of the Philippines, the ALAN are deformed spirits with wings and fingers and toes pointing backwards, described in some stories as half-bird, half-human. They create human children from menstrual blood or miscarried fetuses to raise as their own. Because of their deformities, humans became afraid of them. According to legend, a human once saw them and ran in fear but because of his panic, fell and was knocked unconscious. The Alan were alarmed and tried to revive the human by offering him golden beads (in some legends, their tears) and other precious stones. When the man came to, he saw the precious stones and gold beads and took them, fending the Alan away. The Alan begged for him to return at least the most precious of beads, a double-magic bead, allowing him to keep the rest, but he refused. As a result, the Alan chose to become invisible to human eyes and showed themselves only to whichever family they presented a magical bead to, which was passed down from generation to generation.
I have taken the liberty to use the Alan in my story as half-bird, half-humans, and call them collectively ALANON–the birdmen of Dapit-adlaw. They are friendly and helpful, albeit deformed creatures. My Alanon also have forward facing fingers and toes, which is unlike several Philippine myths, which have a preponderance of creatures with backward facing feet and hands. That is not to say that none of the Alanon have this unusual deformity.
*Artwork by my son Kitt Lapeña. Originally created for an online TV Feature article by my niece, Carmela Guanzon Lapeña, reporting for GMA News Live.
The creature stopped in the center of the clearing and stretched itself to its full height, as far as its bent legs would allow. Its head grazed the lower branches of the banyan tree where Lubid was hiding. Benjamin’s breath caught in his throat and he could sense Talón tensing beside him. The creature raised its head to the waning moon and whinnied, then slowly turned around in a circle and began what seemed like a very ritualistic dance, snorting and whinnying as it did.
Benjamin struggled some more as the mound held him up in mid air. In the dusk, it looked like some kind of hairy giant with grass covering its body. The smell of stale tobacco rose from the earth around the hill. The giant had settled down into a crouch, with the young boy in one outstretched hand. Slowly, it brought its other hand up to reveal a smoldering fag of tobacco that was about the size of the boy’s arm. It brought the gigantic cigar to a gap in the grass and seemed to inhale, then it slowly blew out the smoke in wisps, not unlike the smoke you would find coming from the embers of a dying fire.
**Artwork by Kitt Lapeña, as originally created for Melay Guanzon Lapeña for an article reported on GMA News Live.