You Shall Be As Gods 2nd Edition - Southbound

Title: Print


You Shall Be As Gods: Anting-anting and the Filipino Quest for Mystical Power 2nd Edition


Series: Voyager
Copyright © 2022 Dennis S. Villegas and Vibal Foundation, Inc.
208 pages; 20.95 x 26.67 cm


To many Filipinos, the anting-anting is more than simply a protective talisman or good-luck charm. It is part of an elaborate system of beliefs that has evolved over centuries, synthesizing the animist spirituality of ancient precolonial Filipinos with the Catholic doctrines brought by Spanish colonizers. In times of colonial rule, fervent belief in the anting-anting’s mystical properties was a way for the oppressed to rise and stand equal to their oppressors. Over time, it became a way for ordinary Filipinos—particularly the poor and downtrodden—to assert power over their own destinies. Today, this belief system continues to manifest itself in daily life with its complex hierarchies, manifold trials and rituals, dense symbolism, and flights into mysticism and the unknown.

You Shall Be As Gods, the inaugural book of the Voyager series, explores the many variations of belief in the anting-anting and its role in Philippine history, culture, and psychology. The author Dennis Villegas won the confidence of dozens of the most important anting-anting users and its spiritual leaders to delve deep into the origins of various faith communities in the country.

This second edition contains two new chapters: one on the role of women in organized religion and another dedicated to the categorization of anting-anting. This book is the triumphant result of in-depth research coupled with the derring-do of first-person gonzo journalism.


Readers will come away as antingeros, much like satisfied travelers armed with new knowledge and insights, including an understanding of Genesis 3:5, from which the book’s title is derived: “For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

—Michael Lim Tan, DVM, PhD
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines


Dennis Villegas’ book, You Shall Be As Gods, documents one foundation that constitutes the inner geography of the Philippines. He combines his personal encounters with the story of the anting-anting, participating in complex rituals as well as joining the various millenarian groups in the country, in his quest to understand its true and authentic nature. Although scholarly in tone, his presentation remains eminently popular and is highly attractive to young and old readers alike.

—Jaime B. Veneracion, PhD
Just as the folk Catholic elements of anting-anting belief can be considered not quite Christian and not quite pagan, in a way, this book can be considered as a syncretic merging of scholarly and mystical texts. While the author presents his subject from within the profoundly hybridized world of indigenous and Christian folk religion, he also balances his narrative with a deep reading of serious literature on the subject, providing the reader with a finely wrought and balanced account.

— From the Preface



Dedication vii
Foreword to the 1st Edition by Jaime Veneracion, PhD  viii
Foreword to the 2nd Edition by Michael Lim Tan, DVM, PhD  ix

Preface xii
Acknowledgments x iv

Introduction xv

1 Anting-Anting in Precolonial and Early Colonial Philippines 3

2 Anting-Anting in the Nineteenth Century 21

3 Anting-Anting during the Philippine Revolution 27

4 Colorums 35

5 Anting-Anting in the Twenty-first Century 47

6 Anting-Anting: An Introduction into the Filipino Psyche 57

7 The Rituals of the Anting-Anting 73

8 Anting-Anting and Folk Medicine 91

9 The Symbols of Anting-Anting 109

10 The Mythology of Anting-Anting 121

11 Mount Banahaw and the Veneration of the Holy Mother 139

12 Categorizing Anting-Anting 161

Conclusion 173

Bibliography 182
Image Credits 184
Index 186



Dennis Santos Villegas graduated with a degree in history and mathematics from Far Eastern University. He holds a master’s degree in history teaching from Philippine Normal University. His collection of online essays on Philippine life and culture was awarded the Best Filipiniana blog at the Philippine Blog Awards. He co-authored Philippine Cinema, 1897–2020, which was honored as the 2022 Best Book on Art by the National Book Development Board and the Manila Critic’s Circle.



Watch book video blogger Margaux Camaya's book review  


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