About The Manananggal
Getting to the Gut of the Matter with Viscera Suckers.
Anyone who has had a passing familiarity with Philippine folklore is very likely to have heard of the manananggal (pronounced mah-nah-nang-GAL). It is one of the most famous creatures of Philippine lower mythology.
The word, "manananggal" means "one who detaches," and that is exactly what the manananggal does. Human by day, the manananggal retreats to a hiding spot at nightfall, sprouts giant bat wings, and then detaches its upper body from its lower body. It then takes to the air, leaving its legs and the bottom half of its torso on the ground.
The manananggal feeds on human viscera and unborn fetuses. It does so through its tongue, which is said to be hollow, fine, and sharp; like a very long and grisly hypodermic needle.
Legend has it, that what makes a manananggal what it is, is a tiny, ravenous chick, living in the pit of the creature's stomach. It is said that a manananggal usually starts out human, but this chick devours the person's own viscera while keeping them alive. The person then begins to crave human flesh, and eventually begins to transform.
In order to feed, a manananggal in its detached form will usually seek out a house where a pregnant woman resides. Stories say that a manananggal's preferred victim will smell like fresh mangoes to them. It will then land on the victim's roof, unfurl its tongue, and suck out the victim's fetus or internal organs through the belly button or ear.
It is said that the call of the tiktik bird heralds the approach of a manananggal. If the tiktik 's call is close by, the creature is far away. If the birdcall sounds as if it comes from a great distance, then the manananggal is in close proximity.
On the question of how to become a manananggal, there are many conflicting accounts: many say that the chick inside the creature must be passed on from one person --usually a relative on their deathbed- to another. Another way to become a manananggal involves a ritual with a special chant, some oil, and the egg of a black chicken. The future manananggal must rub the oil on their bodies while reciting the chant. Thereafter, they must keep the egg in their armpit until it disappears --this may take several days.
Some stories say the creature leaves its lower half in a bamboo or banana grove, and disguises it as a banana plant stump or a young clutch of bamboo.
On the question of how to kill a manananggal, there are many different ways:
- One story describes how, in his haste to escape from a hungry manananggal's clutches, a small boy accidentally spilled his packed meal over a banana stump, which turned out to be the creature's disguised bottom half. Instantly, the manananggal's flight faltered, and it fell to the ground and died. The boy's meal was adobo --a chicken or pork dish simmered in generous amounts of soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorn, and garlic. As with many vampire legends, it is said that spices and vinegar are poisonous to the manananggal.
- Another story tells of how one night, a pregnant woman sewing alone in her house saw a string dangling next to her from the ceiling. Without thinking, she took her shears, and cut the string. Outside, she heard a bird cry, and the flapping of great wings, followed by a thud. The next morning, she found her neighbor's corpse outside of her house, with massive amounts of blood pooled around his mouth and head.
- Yet another story describes how a manananggal can been seriously injured by a blow from a whip made out of a stingray's tail.
Photoshopped, or real?
One possible reason for the proliferation of the manananggal myth; particularly in the central islands of the Philippine archipelago, is the presence of several species of giant, fruit-eating bats endemic to the islands, such as the giant golden crowned flying fox. Some specimens have wingspans up to six feet wide, and before the massive habitat loss and hunting drove these creatures to the brink of extinction, thousands upon thousands of them would take wing after dark to feed on fruits, both in plantations and in the jungle; quite possibly disturbing communities living nearby.
Because of these bats' huge wingspan, it was probably fairly easy to imagine that the creature taking wing was not a harmless fruit-eater, but a half-human monster, hungry for the taste of flesh.
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