Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Filipino BloodSucker - Manananggal

The Manananggal is a supernatural creature that originates from Filipino folklore. It is also known as wakwak in some parts of the Philippines. Its Western counterpart would be the vampire because of its habit of devouring humans. Its Malay cousin is the penanggalan.

The legend of the Mananaggal is popular in the Visayas region of the country, particularly in provinces of Antique, Iloilo and Capiz. The Manananggal’s appearance would differ, depending on where and who tells the tale.

Just like the vampires, Manananggals are said to have a dislike of salt and garlic. Another Visayan supernatural creature, the aswang, also shares these characteristics. Other things that the Manananggals are said to avoid include light, vinegar, daggers, spices and sting ray tails that could be used as whips against them. Similar creatures can be found from surrounding countries’ folklores.

A Manananggal is said to be an old beautiful woman that can cut her body into two. She would then fly with her upper torso with large bat-like wings so that she could devour on pregnant women using her proboscis-like tongue. She would suck the blood of the fetus inside the womb of the unsuspecting mother.

Her weakness is her lower torso, which is just left unprotected while the Manananggal’s out hunting. When the lower half is sprinkled with salt or placed with crushed garlic, the upper torso could not rejoin with it and thus the Manananggal will die at sunrise.
The name Manananggal comes from the Filipino root word tanggal, which means to separate or to remove. The word Manananggal in Filipino means someone who can separate her upper body from her lower extremities.

The old practice of hanging cloves of garlic or onion near the window panes to ward off Manananggals are still done by some superstitious folks from the Visayas. Tabloids would usually feature them in the front page to sell their paper. No one can truly say if Manananggals exist. Some say that they’re just some kind of mass hysteria or a way to keep children off the street when nighttime comes.

As to how Manananggals reproduce or multiply is another story. There’s a story that states that a black chick in a Manananggal’s throat is the source of her power. A manananggal will not die unless the black chick is removed. They say there are two ways to do this. One is to spin the manananggal around until she vomits the black chick out. Another method is to hang the manananggal upside down and smoke the chick out her throat.

Another version of the legend states that being a Manananggal is hereditary. Then there are others that say that it is like a virus. If your food is contaminated by a Manananggal’s saliva, you have a chance to be one.

The capital of the Manananggal myth in the Philippines is the province of Capiz. Not only do Manananggals are said to live in that area but so do other supernatural beings such as goblins, ghosts, aswangs, and ghouls. There are also lots of modern day witch doctors still practicing their craft in the said province.

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