In Philippine folklore, a tikbalang is a bizarre, shape-shifting, trickster spirit that haunts certain places in the wildlands of the country. It is said to be a tall humanoid creature that dwells in the forests and mountains of the Philippines and often described as a reverse form of a centaur. Where the centaur has the body of a horse and the torso and head of a man, the tikbalang has the head of a horse and the body of a human. Although descriptions vary they are generally described as being tall and bony creatures with limbs that tend to be disproportionate to their body. For example, because its legs are so long and skinny, when the creature squats down its knees are higher than its head. It is usually said to have animal-like feet usually similar to horse hooves. In some traditions, it is said to have evolved from an aborted human fetus that was held in limbo and sent back to Earth. In some traditions, tikbalangs can change their shape into that of humans and can also become invisible.
One of the tricks of the tikbalang is to change its physical form into that of a relative, friend or someone closely associated to any traveler that it may come across in the wilds. It then appears to the victim in this familiar form pretending to know the way deceiving them into being led through the dark woods or along remote mountain paths to a place far from the help of others. When the time comes the for the tikbalang to reveal itself the victim may experience the smell of tobacco before the face and the body of their guide blurs as it changes from the that of the victim’s, relative or friend, into its own true monstrous form.