Source: wikipilipinas.org

Duwende are goblins, hobgoblins, elves or dwarfs (Spanish: duende “goblin, elf, charm” < “duen de (casa)”, owner of the house). They are little creatures who can provide good fortune or bad fate to humans. In the Philippines, duwendes frequently live in houses, in trees, underground, termite like mound or hill, and in rural areas.

They are known to be either good or mischievous, depending on how homeowners treat them. They usually come out at 12 noon for an hour and during the night. They can bestow good or bad fortune upon its owners, depending on how they are treated. Pilipinos who believe in the existence of Duwende leave food on the floor so that the Duwende can be peaceful and protective of their homes. However, they can still be little tricksters who love to steal things and laugh while you search for it, only returning it when they feel like it or if you tell them to (please) return itIf really provoked, Duwende can cause sickness or even death upon its victim.
Filipinos always mutter words (“tabi-tabi po” or “bari-bari apo ma ka ilabas kami apo”) asking them to excuse themselves for bothering the Duwendes. Filipinos would leave food on the floor, so that the duwende residing (or guarding) the house would not be angry with them. They also take your things,and laugh at you when you try to find it. They give it back when they feel like it,or when you tell them to please give it back.

Filipinos also believe in Dwende, which frequently live in rocks and caves, old trees, unvisited and dark parts of houses or in ant hills where they are called nuno sa punso (old man of the mound). They are either categorized as good or evil depending on their color – white or black respectively and often play with children.

Some Filipinos use the story of the Duwende as a cautionary tale to children (and adults too) to not snack after bedtime. One story goes that if you creep into the kitchen at night to get a snack, the Duwende can take your soul and trap you inside any kitchen equipment nearby (you wouldn’t want to be trapped inside your rice cooker, would you?). To get children to finish their food, parents threaten the Duwende would come after them.