A Manananggal is a ghoul in Philippine Mythology that resembles a woman with the ability to detach the two halves of its body at the waist, with the upper half then sprouting bat-like wings enabling it to fly in search of prey. It feeds on human blood and viscera, which leads to it being compared to the Western vampire.
By day, the manananggal seems to be a normal, attractive woman. At night, especially midnight or during a full moon, it applies a special oil on its body while chanting a prayer. Fangs, claws, and wings sprout, and the upper half of its body (head, arms and torso) separates from the lower half (hips and legs), with its guts hanging out. It has long, matted hair with big, wild eyes.
The story about manananggal (meaning “one who can remove”) originates in the island provinces of the Visayas like Capiz, Iloilo, and Antique. There are also similar stories about these creatures in the neighboring countries of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Like the aswang, the manananggal isolates itself from the townsfolk, residing on mountainsides or in deep woods. During the day, it lives among people, searching out prospective prey. Its usual targets are pregnant women and children. At night, it flies to the roof of its victim's house and looks for holes where it can insert its long, thin, proboscis-like tongue. With this tongue, it is able to suck the blood of sleeping people, and even pierce a pregnant woman's belly to feed on the fetus inside. The victim usually dies as a result. In some stories, a manananggal trails and kills its victim, devouring the heart and inner organs.
Countermeasures and antidotes
When the manananggal's upper body is detached, the lower body is vulnerable. Because of this, the mananaggal tries to hide its lower half in a safe place to keep it from being discovered while the upper half is at large. Many believe that sprinkling salt, ashes or crushed garlic on top the lower half of its body would cause it to burn. Thus unable to rejoin with its lower body, the manananggal must remain out until it is eventually killed by the rays of the rising sun.
Garlic cloves and onions hung around doors and windows are said to keep them at bay. Ashes and ginger are also said to repel them.
- The Tagalog refer to a similar creature of Malayan origin called the Pananggalan meaning the severed head. It is described as a human head with hanging viscera, preying on newborn babies and pregnant women.
- Tik-tik is a bat-like creature. Some say a transformation of the aswang, while others say it is the aswang's familiar or servant. The name was coined from the sound it creates while flying. The Tik-tik eats the fetus in the mothers womb.
- Mansusopsop is a ghoul that preys on pregnant women. This creature hovers over rooftops and seeks out any opening for its long, thread-like tongue to pass through until it finds the stomach of its victim and sucks out the fetus and all the blood until its victim dies.
It is said that one becomes a manananggal by drinking its blood or saliva. The manananggal can either kill their victims or turn them into manananggals themselves. Mananaggals live longer than humans, especially if they feed on unborn children.
- Manananggal are featured in many Filipino horror flicks such as:
- Manananggal in Manila (1997) - Starring Alma Concepcion, Tonton Guttierez, Aiza Seguerra and Angelika Dela Cruz. Directed by Mario O'Hara.
- Shake, Rattle and Roll (1984) - The third story is entitled "Manananggal" and was directed by Peque Gallaga. It stars Herbert Bautista and Irma Alegre as the barrio lass who is really a manananggal.
- One of the main supporting characters in the Filipino animated film Dayo is a young manananggal named Anna Manananggirl, who aids the boy protagonist in his quest.
- The eponymous tale in Jessica Zafra's short story collection Manananggal Terrorizes Manila and Other Stories (Anvil, 1992) has the protagonist relating herself to a rampaging manananggal.
- Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.
- "Mythical Creatures of the Philippines." Associated Content, 10 March 2006. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/21178/mythical_creatures_of_the_philippines.html (Accessed on September 14, 2007).