About The Manananggal

Rendered by Jay Javier; taken from Elfwood.com
Rendered by Jay Javier; taken from Elfwood.com

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?

A giant flying fox would have looked an awful lot like this
A giant flying fox would have looked an awful lot like this

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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Comments 15 comments

Trixie 6 years ago

I don't know if the picture is real or not. But I can tell you I had an experience in a remote "barangay" in Guimaras back in 2005. We all (friends) experienced the tiktik's call and a heavy sound landing on the roof of the house we were staying in. I experienced it the most 'cause it was too freaky! It was scary!

saisun profile image

saisun 6 years ago from Philippines Author

@ Trixie! Haha, the picture was apparently a hoax. However, the tiktik and the roof-landing...? Definitely sounds like reason to run and hide (or break out the Holy Water). At least no one got eaten (?).

flafla 5 years ago

I believe this is true, because the one who actually got the footage is a close friend of my friend. Based on my experience, I saw the same thing right in front of me years ago as well, so there's no way for me to say this is just photoshopped.

Rob 5 years ago

Haha....that's just a kite...and manananggals don't come out at day time...but they are REAL!!

ALucard 5 years ago

hehehe,oo totoo daw ang mga aswang at manananggal specially sa south part...one of my relative married a aswang.,my tito hindi sya sumasabay kumain morning to dinner tym then one time nahuli ng tito ko na umalis ng madaling araw but ang nakita lang nya na lumabas sa binta nila eh malaking ibon..

Fleur Delacour 5 years ago

sabi raw ng lola ko totoo raw ang mga aswang,, pero ung picture d ko ma gets! parang ibon at parang manananggal!

jeremejazz profile image

jeremejazz 4 years ago from Philippines

the photo is not real.. what's that.. Twilight? hahaha

but somehow evil exists

jeremejazz profile image

jeremejazz 4 years ago from Philippines

hi frend, advise ko lagyan mo ng tracker link ung mga links na sa taas para dumami ung mga referral mo :)

dean 4 years ago

i don't know if the picture is true but i have experience it and in your house my sister has a son. at that night my parents are sleeping and i hear a wings span and its too loud.. i told my sister to stay with his son because her son is 7months old.

KaiJing Harashi profile image

KaiJing Harashi 4 years ago from las-pinas city,Manila, Philippines

you are awsome and so great. two thumbs up, and to share it with you here's my experience about this creature. its true to experience this. im a cebuano , a born cebuano and even here in the province in cebu there is the so called manananggal , but they vary in ranks actualy two were known here , one is this famous one the waist will be cut in half the lower extrimity would be standing while the upper extrimity would fly , the second most terrifying is me and my friends were having get together cause i visited cebu cause im from manila and i visited my friends there, it happened one night that my friend decided to feel so sleepy and hes not feeling well as he said so we left him in the hut were we usualy hang out , then minutes passed while me and my two friends were outside the hut heared something came out the back window and heared a flap ofabove us and actualy with the help of the moons light we saw the thing has wings very big wings after seeing it we hurried our way to the hut to check our friend inside cause were all frightened by the fact that we saw a thing in half with big wings , but things change terribly as we get to the hut seeing my friends head was missing while his whole body is lying down .. i was so so shocked that my friends shouted oh my god he is a manananggal the higher form , then i ask was his family were like this they both nod to me and the three of us ran for our lives and we checked in in a hotel and left our friend in the province of cebu called balamban province. :)

JONARD BUENDIA 4 years ago


donald cortez 4 years ago


rhixabelle 3 years ago

oh my god....i need ur reactions to story of manananggal?

mr piggah profile image

mr piggah 3 years ago from USA Cedar Rapids Iowa

and if you sprinkle some salt on the lower part of the manananggal then it will die instantly

patrick the folklorist 3 years ago

The image is obviously a fake one. However, I won't deny that the existence of manananggal is probably true.

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