In Philippine folklore, the Manananggal is a mythical, evil, cannibalistic, vampiric , witch that as well as sucking the blood from victims also eats them. Sometimes it is confused with the Wakwak which is a strange bird-like, vampiric creature. However, although they are both vampires unlike the Manananggal, the Wakwak cannot separate its upper body from its lower body. It is from this bizarre ability that the Manananggal gets its name. The term Manananggal comes from the Tagalog word, tanggal, meaning to separate.
Origin of the Manananggal
Philippine folklore gives varying accounts of the origin of Manananggals. One tradition says there is a black chick living inside the creature. This is passed on from the deathbed of those afflicted to another person who is usually a relative. The chick is then believed to reside inside the body of the Manananggal eating the innards of its host while keeping them alive. It is this that is believed to be the reason why the Manananggal craves the taste of human blood and flesh and transforms into its hideous shape.
Another tradition says that to become a Manananggal you need a special ointment and the egg containing a black chick. While chanting a special incantation you should anoint yourself with the ointment and place the egg in your armpit until it disappears. It this ritual is completed you will transform into a Manananggal. Other traditions say when a Manananggal does not kill their victims outright they will turn into another Mananaggal.
A Shapeshifting Sorceress
Manananggals are usually female, often hideous and terrifying, but when selecting male victims can appear beautiful and alluring. They are considered to be are an aswang which are shapeshifters in Philippine folklore. During the day they appear to be ordinary humans and are often a witch or sorceress. When night comes they transform themselves into a hideous beast to seek out prey. When they wish to feed they will seek out a suitably isolated place where they can separate the upper body from their lower body. Some accounts say that then they massages a special lotion into their body while chanting a spell. This results in their eyes becoming wild and enlarged and hair becoming matted. Their teeth change into long fangs and their fingers transform into long, sharp, claws. The upper body then sprouts bat-like wings and separates from the lower body and flies off with its intestines trailing along behind in search of prey, which is often a pregnant woman.
The Tiktik Bird
In some Philippine traditions, the Manananggal is accompanied by a bird called the Tiktik. It makes a sound “tik-tik-tik-tik” or “ik-ik-ik-ik” while flying alongside the Manananggal. It is said that the fainter the call of the bird the nearer the Manananggal is to you which is meant to confuse victims. Black cats and crows are believed to have the ability to warn of the approach or presence of a Tiktik and therefore the Manananggal as well.
When they find a suitable victim they will settle on the roof of their house. They have a thin, hollow tongue which is very long and very flexible. They will wriggle this down to the sleeping victim and the tongue will puncture the womb and suck out the fetus, or the blood from a victim who is not pregnant. When selecting men she seduces them with her beauty, entices them into a remote or private place. She will then eat them alive being particularly fond of liver, stomach, and heart.
Killing a Manananggal
Manananggals can be killed by being caught in sunlight when they have split apart and taken their monstrous shape. They are also highly vulnerable when they have split their bodies apart. This is because the lower part remains motionless while the separation is in action making it vulnerable. To kill a Manananggal find the lower body and rub salt and ash or garlic over its exposed flesh. This will prevent the creature rejoining its two halves together and it will be destroyed when the sun rises and its rays touch it.
Prevention is the best defense against Manananggals so sure the home is well protected is essential. To keep a Manananggal away from the home place small pots of uncooked rice, ash or salt around the home which should deter it from settling on the roof. Manananggals also avoid vinegar, spices and daggers and the tail of a stingray that has been made into a whip. If these precautions are followed, hopefully, the homestead and its inhabitants should be reasonably safe from these vile creatures.
© 17/05/2017 zteve t evans
References, Attributions and Further Reading
Copyright May 17th, 2017zteve t evans
- Manananggal – Wikipedia
- Philippine mythical creatures – Wikipedia
- Philippine Myths & Legends: Manananggal – FFE Magazine
- File:Manananggal.jpg From Wikimedia Commons – Manananggal, mythical creature of the Philippines – Gian Bernal – Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication