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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Manananggal: A Vampiric Flying Torso

The Philippines have a wide array of stories, legends, tales, fables, parables, and mythological creatures. With its rich culture, undeniably amazing traditions, and even popular festivities, it also has its fair share of appalling folklores.

Manananggal, Philippine Mythical Creature
Image: Pinterest

Aside from their specific names, Philippine mythological creatures are referred from a common term. The most famous one is the Aswang (a vampire-like being) another is Duwende (small magical creatures). Next is the Engkanto (beautiful human-like environmental creatures), we also have the Higante (giant humanoid creatures) and, the Serena (half fish and have human sea creatures).

All created by the great minds of Filipinos which make the Philippine culture even more interesting and peculiar. One of the most famous mythological creatures is the Manananggal.

The name Manananggal derived from the Tagalog word “tanggal”which means “to separate” or “to remove”, in direct translation “remover” or“separator”. Manananggal is known by splitting its lower and upper torso and emerge a massive bat-like wing which it uses in search for its next victim to devour.

Manananggal, Philippine Mythical Creature
Image: Regal Films/Screencapture by Center For Paranormal Studies
Mananangal is commonly depicted as a female, a horrifying and hideous-looking woman. Its victims are mostly sleeping pregnant women. It uses her elongated trunk like a tongue to slurp the blood of the woman, even the heart and the fetus.

Manananggal also preys on men. One story tells that Manananggal was once a bride that was left alone in the altar by her groom, and so as her evil revenge, she haunts for the newlywed couple and takes the groom as its victim and devours on their internals.

Like every villain, Manananggal has its weaknesses and ways to slay them. The perfect time to put down a Manananggal is when the upper torso splits from the lower trunk; at that point, the lower body will remain still and defenseless. Covering crushed garlic, scattering salt or ash on top of it is lethal for it. It makes the upper torso not be able to reattach itself and would die by direct sunlight.

Categorized as Aswang, Manananggal is also susceptible to daggers, light, vinegar, and the tail of stingrays. There are different accounts as to how or where Manananggal originated.

One says that there is a black chick living inside the body of the creature, handed over from the deathbed of the person inflicted, to another person who preferably a relative. The chick will live inside the bodyof the Manananggal, eats their guts while keeping them alive. That is why a Manananggal craves for human blood, flesh and innards that cause them to change into a hideous cannibalistic creature.

Another version says that to transform into that beast-like form, a Manananggal needs to have a special ointment and an egg containing a black chick. While chanting a unique spell, it needs to smear the ointment and to procure the egg in her body. After the whole ceremony is done, it will transform you into a Manananggal.

Manananggal, Philippine Mythical Creature
Image: Aswang Project
While others say that if the Manananggal was not able to kill its victim entirely, they would turn into a Manananggal as well. In some traditions, Manananggal is said to be joined by a bird called “tiktik”. It says that the sound made by the bird confuses the victim. The fainter the sound of the bird, Manananggal is nearer to you.

A black cat or a crow has the ability to warn if there is a tiktik in the area as well as the presence of a Manananggal. And to keep away a Manananggal in your house, leave a pot of uncooked rice, salt, or ash within the area, it will be frightened in settling on the roof of the house.

Although it has spine-chilling features, movies based on Manananggal concepts were shown. In fact, the first-ever Filipino horror film directed by Jose Nepomuceno in the year 1927 was entitled “Manananggal”.

With the advent of technology we have now, some might say that these Philippine Mythological creatures no longer exist. They are buried in the memory and history of our culture. But who knows, they may be just one of us, lurking around, hunting for their next victim.


Written by Kris De Vera Estrella, IFY Books

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