The Anting-anting Of Manuelito

: Philippine Folklore Stories

The Anting-Anting is a stone or other small object covered with

cabalistic inscriptions. It is worn around the neck, and is supposed

to render its owner impervious to knife or bullet. Many are wearing

these charms, especially the Tulisanes or outlaws. The Anting-Anting

must not be confused, however, with the scapular, a purely religious

symbol worn by a great number of the Christian Filipinos.

Many of the
older Filipinos remember Manuelito, the great Tulisane,

who, more than fifty years ago, kept all the Laguna de Bai district

in a state of fear. His robber band was well organized and obeyed his

slightest wish. He had many boats on the lake and many hiding places

in the mountains, and throughout the country there was no villager

who did not fear to oppose him, or who would refuse to help him in

any way when required to do so.

In vain the Guardia Civil hunted him. Many times they surrounded the

band, but Manuelito always escaped. Many shots were fired at him,

but he was never hit; and once, when he was cut off from his men

and surrounded, he broke through the line, and though fifty bullets

whistled around him he did not receive a scratch.

The officers of the Guardia Civil blamed their men for the bad

marksmanship that allowed Manuelito to escape. They told all the

people that it should never occur again, and promised that the next

fight should end in the death of the outlaw. The people, however,

did not believe that Manuelito could be killed, for he wore on his

breast a famous Anting-Anting that he had received from Mangagauay,

the giver of life and death.

This charm was a stone covered with mysterious signs. It was wrapped

in silk and hung by a string from the robber's neck, and even if a

gun were fired within a few feet of him the Anting-Anting was sure to

turn the bullet in another direction. It was this charm that always

saved him from the Guardia Civil.

Manuelito was very proud of his Anting-Anting, and many times, when

a fiesta was being held in some town, he and his band would come down

from the mountains and take part in the games. Manuelito would stand

in the town plaza and allow his men to shoot at him, and each time

the Anting-Anting would turn aside the bullets. The people were very

much impressed, and though a few of the wiser ones secretly thought

that the guns were only loaded with powder, they were afraid to say

anything; so the greater number thought it very wonderful and believed

that there was no charm so powerful as the Anting-Anting of Manuelito.

For years the Tulisane, protected by his charm, continued to rob and

plunder. The Guardia Civil hunted him everywhere, but could never

kill him. He grew bolder and bolder, and even came close to Manila

to rob the little towns just outside the city.

At last the government grew tired of sending out the Guardia Civil,

and ordered a regiment of Macabebes to hunt and kill the Tulisane

and his men.

Manuelito was at Pasay when news was brought to him that the Macabebes

were coming. Instead of running from these fierce little fighters, he

decided to meet them, and many people offered to help him, believing

that the Anting-Anting would turn away all bullets and give them

victory. So Manuelito and many men left the town, built trenches in the

hills near San Pedro Macati, and waited for the Macabebes to appear.

They had not long to wait. The Macabebes, hurrying from Manila, reached

San Pedro Macati and soon found that Manuelito was waiting to fight

them. They left the town at once and advanced on the Tulisane trenches.

It was a great fight. From the other hills close by many people watched

the battle. Five times the Macabebes advanced, and were forced to

fall back before the fierce fire of the Tulisanes. But the Macabebe

never knows defeat, and once more their line went forward and in one

terrible charge swept over the trenches and bayoneted the outlaws. In

vain Manuelito called on his men to fight. They broke and ran in every

direction. Then, seeing that all was lost, Manuelito started to follow

them; but a volley rang out, and, struck by twenty bullets, he fell to

the ground dead. The Macabebes chased the flying Tulisanes and killed

that of all the band only a few many, safely reached the mountains.

While the Macabebes were chasing the outlaws, many people came down

from the hills and stood around the body of Manuelito. They could

hardly believe their eyes, but the many wounds and the blood staining

the ground proved that the great Tulisane was indeed dead.

What of the Anting-Anting? Had it lost its power?

One man timidly unbuttoned the shirt of the dead robber and pulled out

the charm. The mystery was explained. Fixed firmly in the center of the

Anting-Anting was a silver bullet. There was but one explanation. The

Macabebes had melted a statue of the Virgin and used it to make bullets

to fire at Manuelito. Against such bullets the charm was useless,

but against ordinary lead it never would have failed. Had not the

people seen Manuelito's own men fire at him?

The charm was taken from the neck of the dead Tulisane and many

copies were made of it. Even to this day hundreds of people are

wearing them. They will tell you about Manuelito's great fight and

also about his famous Anting-Anting.

"But," you say, "the Anting-Anting was useless. Manuelito was killed."

They answer, "Yes, Senor, it is true; but the Macabebes used bullets

of silver. Had they used lead the story would have been different. Poor