If you love the supernatural, there is one creature that stands above the rest. The Manananggal can separate in half, fly, grow fangs and claws, and loves to prey on pregnant women.
Most paranormal stories focus on vampires, witches, werewolves, and banshees. But have you ever heard about a half-person flying about and hunting during the night? This is one supernatural entity that we need to discuss.
What Is The Manananggal?
This supernatural creature called the manananggal gets its name from the Tagalog language – a dialect derived from the Philippines. The word means separator or remover and is quite fitting because this monster literally separates itself into two halves.
That might seem like a masochistic and cruel thing to do to oneself, but Philippine myths do not mention whether this creature feels any pain during the process. This makes it different than the werewolf.
How Does The Manananggal Fly?
The manananggal tears themselves in two in order to be able to fly. Once the upper part is free of the lower torso, the manananggal is able to grow wings, fangs, and claws. Their organs and intestines remain inside the upper half of their body and literally just hang down freely. What a sight!
What does a manananggal do?
According to some Filipino accounts, the monster is believed to be a nocturnal being that preys on pregnant women and drinks their blood. A common belief is that when a woman feels the fetus inside of her move for the first time, this is because it has already been bitten by a manananggal. The creature’s victim remains alive but without any external wounds or even scars where they were bitten.
Some reports say that when active, its upper torso would detach from its lower body as it flies through the night looking for prey using two large bat-like wings attached to its back. Its upper torso would levitate in the air while its lower half rests until it returns to devour human flesh during dawn or daytime.
If encountered, it may be killed by stabbing it in the heart with a bamboo stake to prevent it from flying. A common way of destroying a manananggal was to thrust a torch into its severed torso while it is sleeping, immobilizing it until sunrise when the creature would perish and burn to ashes.
Manananggals are sometimes associated with parasites as well because they both prey on pregnant women and seek shelter in abandoned homes that they pass by each morning.
In most Filipino lowland communities, part of traditional folklore dictates that people sleep with their windows open or else risk closing their eyes for the rest of their lives if the supernatural creature successfully crawls through them.
Due to these beliefs, it is also common for mothers in the Philippines to warn their children against playing or crying too loudly lest they attract the creature. This is because the spirits are said to feed on unborn fetuses and infants as well so silence is preferred when sleeping so that the monster will not mistake a child in its mother’s womb for its prey.
Some accounts also say that manananggals have long proboscis-like tongues with which they inject an anesthetizing poison into pregnant women, making them easy targets. The victims remain alive but without any external wounds or even scars where they were bitten.
They move freely among the crowd and often disguise themselves as beautiful women. Most folklore describes these creatures as unrecognizable. But here’s the trick – they aren’t always women! But they can be men as well.
The most beloved prey of manananggals is pregnant women. These women are in the most danger when they are asleep. These creatures usually hunt during the night, but they choose their victims during the day.
The monsters target pregnant women because they are after women’s blood and fetuses’ hearts. In addition to wings and claws, they have very long hollow tongues that they use to suck the hearts of unborn babies and the blood of soon-to-be mothers.
Manananggals hunt for blood, like vampires, and eat fetuses, but they also love to devour the intestines of grown people – hearts, stomachs, and livers.
Men in love, newlyweds, and men, in general, can become prey to these creatures. Disguised as charming women, the manananggals lure men into dark, isolated places and then eat them alive. They may target men out of revenge as some myths state that these paranormal beings were abandoned at the altar.
Recognizing the Danger
If you hear the sound of their flapping wings, it might be too late. It’s usually described as “tik-tik”. The quieter the sound is, the closer they are. It’s a tactic the creatures use to confuse their victims and reassure them that the danger has passed.
Some people call manananggals Tik-tik because of this trait.
All supernatural creatures have an Achilles heel. It’s nature’s way to balance things out, and manananggals aren’t an exception.
You can kill the monster by preventing it from reuniting their body parts before dawn. Like vampires, it can’t survive daylight, but that applies only to their monster form. If a manananggal didn’t find its lower part before dawn, it dies. If you can find the lower torso, you can hide it, wait until sunrise, and then expose it.
Another way to ensure that manananggal doesn’t put itself together (literally) is to put some smashed garlic, ash, or salt on the open wound of the lower torso. It won’t be able to get whole again as they hate these things.
They are also vulnerable to daggers, vinegar, and stingray tails. And the best way to keep manananggals from entering your house is to put some salt, ash, or raw rice around your home.
Becoming A Manananggal
It’s believed that these creatures all start out as humans. But they turn into monsters because a black chick that resides in their stomachs and keeps them alive. The beings crave human flesh because the chick eats some of their entrails once it enters the body, and they have to feed by consuming other people’s intestines.
Once one is no longer powerful enough to keep feeding the black chick, they have to pass the chick to another person. It’s usually passed to a family member. But the good news is that the process is reversible. To prevent someone from becoming a manananggal, you have to hang the infected person from a tree and spin them until they throw the black chick up.
According to one tale, a manananggal was once upon a time an ordinary mortal. One day she met the man she fell in love with and later married him despite her parents’ objections. The young couple settled down near a cemetery far from their town; some say this was because the husband could not bear his wife’s post-marriage tantrums but others believe it was because he himself was a ghoul.
One day, while he was out hunting, his bride waited for him at home only to be stricken by loneliness and boredom. To pass time, she ate several bunches of unlit lantern wicks and found herself feeling “lightheaded”. She lit them up and burned brightly as if they were candles so she began to fly around the house using her new glowing wings.
The newly made Manananggal prowled outside during the night, killing and eating anyone she could find but her husband (a ghoul himself) never came home with any food for his wife. Instead, he would bring back human corpses and eat them in front of his wife who was very tired and hungry by that time.
One day, a group of laborers arrived at their house while she was sleeping inside. They chopped it down together with her as they were clearing the area to make way for a sugar plantation. A few days later when she awoke from hibernation, she found herself trapped underground with only cadavers to keep her company. This drove her mad as time went by and she slowly went insane. The lonely wife became enraged and eventually transformed into a bloodthirsty monster that is now known as manananggal.
Movies and TV shows
The Manananggal myth is very popular in the Philippines, and numerous horror movies are proof of that.
Here are some movies you can watch if you want to see manananggals in action:
- Manananggal in Manila (1997)
- Impaktita (1989)
- The Aswang Phenomenon (2011)
- Shake Rattle & Roll IV (1992)
The manananggals also appeared in some TV series:
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