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Legends and Lore
The Manananggal

The Manananggal

Imagine…you’re on vacation in the Philippines and out enjoying some nighttime sightseeing with your significant other. You see a beautiful woman down the road. Suddenly, she transforms into a hideous creature. Her torso separates from her body, she grows wings, and her intestines are hanging out. The lower half of her body is still standing there, and the upper half flies away Congratulations! You just spotted a legendary Manananggal.


A Manananggal is a kind of vampire. It’s part of a group of Filipino creatures called Aswang, which are shape-shifting vampires. Just like a vampire, a Manananggal has teeth that turn into fangs. It has crazy hair and big eyes. Its fingers turn into claws. During the day, she is a beautiful woman. Then at night, it transforms and looks for someone to feast on. A Manananggal’s favorite meal is sick people or pregnant women. It likes to get them while they’re sleeping. It has a very long tongue that it uses to reach the baby’s heart or suck the woman’s blood. It also preys on couples.


When a Manananggal is hungry, it flies to your house and makes a hole in the roof. It lowers its tongue into the hole and uses it like a straw. If you put a pot of ash, uncooked rice, or salt on your roof, the Manananggal will stay away.  A Manananggal usually flies around with a Tiktik bird. It helps find victims for the Manananggal and makes noise to distract a victim. The farther away it sounds, the closer it is. Pretty sneaky, huh?


It is believed that a black chick lives inside a Manananggal, which is why it can’t die. The chick eats its hosts’ innards to keep itself alive. The chick can be passed from a Manananggal to one of its relatives.  There is supposedly a way that someone can purposely turn themself into a Manananggal. You must anoint yourself with oil, eat an egg that contains a black chick, and recite incantations.  On another version – you don’t eat the egg, you keep it in your armpit until it disappears.


If a woman eats a black baby chick that was raised inside of the throat of a Manananggal, she can be infected and become a Manananggal herself. The only way to reverse the infection is to hang the woman upside down from a tree. Then she must be spun around until she vomits out the infection. 


There are several ways to kill a Manananggal if its torso has separated:

  • Stab the upper body with a bamboo spear.
  • Sprinkle salt, ash, or crushed garlic on the lower half of the body.
  • Whip the lower body with the tail of a stingray.
  • Pour vinegar or holy water on the lower body.
  • If the lower body is destroyed, the sun will kill the upper half.


Stories of Manananggal sightings continue to this day. 



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