From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Self-segmenting flying viscera sucker of fetuses
GenderMale / Female
Christian equivalentVampire

The manananggal (sometimes confused with the Wak wak and Aswang), which translates to "one who removes/takes off/separates (context: ...limbs, body parts, etc)", is a vampire-like mythical creature native to the Philippines, a malevolent, man-eating and blood-sucking monster or witch.


The manananggal is described as scary, often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means "to remove" or "to separate", which literally translates as "remover" or "separator". In this case, "one who separates itself". The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso.

The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. It also haunts newlyweds or couples in love. Due to being left at the altar, groom to be is one of its main targets. The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin itself and would perish by sunrise.[1][2][3]

The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic, salt and holy water.[4] They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip.[2] Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls generically referred to as aswangs. Sightings are purported here, and certain local folk are said to believe in their existence despite modernization. The manananggal shares some features with the vampire of Balkan folklore, such as its dislike of garlic, salt, and vulnerability to sunlight.

Historical accounts[edit]

"The seventh was called magtatangal, and his purpose was to show himself at night to many persons, without his head or entrails. In such wise the devil walked about and carried, or pretended to carry, his head to different places; and, in the morning, returned it to his body—remaining, as before, alive. This seems to me to be a fable, although the natives affirm that they have seen it, because the devil probably caused them so to believe. This occurred in Catanduanes."

Fr. Juan de Plasencia, Customs of the Tagalogs (1589) [5]

"Brujo. Magtatangal. Dicen que vuela y come carne humana pero cuando levanta el vuelo no lleva mas que el medio cuerpo y por eso se llma asi porque es de tangal que es desencajar y el tal desencaja la mitad del cuerpo y ese lleva consigo dejadose en casa el otro medio." Magtatangal. A witch. They say that it flies and eats human flesh, but when it flies, it only has half its body, and that is why it is called tangal because it is tangible and can disengage and he dislodges half of his body, and he carries the other means at home.

Fray Domingo de los Santos, Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala (1703)[6]

Appearances in film and other media[edit]

  • Manananggal (1927), directed by José Nepomuceno, was the first ever Filipino horror movie.[7][8] It is a silent movie starring Mary Walter portraying the manananggal in its current form, having the upper torso detach. Not much was known of the film's plot.
  • Manananggal vs. Mangkukulam (1960),[9] directed by Consuelo Osorio, is a Lea Productions horror comedy starring the top comedians of the 1960s. It stars Pugo, Lopito, Patsy, Chichay and Aruray
  • Mga Bata ng Lagim (1964),[9] again by Consuelo Osorio, features a star-studded cast of the 1960s teen matinee idols "Sampaguita-VP All-Stars". A scene where German Moreno and Boy Alano turned into a manananggal after applying oil to their bodies, after which they sang the popular paruparong bukid folksong.
  • In Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973),[10]directed by Maning Borlaza, Gloria Romero plays the respectable Miss Luna, Narda's school teacher, who is secretly a manananggal. It co-stars Vilma Santos.
  • In Pagsapit ng Dilim (1975),[9] Perla Bautista plays a mother who tricked her daughter Gina Pareño into becoming a manananggal as part of her coming of age rites.
  • Shake, Rattle & Roll (1984) is the first in a series of horror anthologies. In one episode, directed by Peque Gallaga, Herbert Bautista plays a teenager in a faraway province. A manananggal is said to live within the vicinity and is out to eat people. He is given the task by his grandmother to kill this creature. Having found a way to prevent it from returning to its body, he must now survive the night to protect his family from the creature's attacks. It co-stars Irma Alegre and Mary Walter.
  • In Impaktita (1989), Jean Garcia plays the role of a young girl whose mother is a manananggal, and when she turns 18, she will transform into a wild bloodsucking creature at night by the eerie sound of a bat and sucks the blood of any living person she can find. Other stars include Richard Gomez, Aga Muhlach, Gloria Romero, and Nida Blanca.
  • In one episode of Shake, Rattle & Roll IV (1992), a homeless family and their neighbors in the city of Manila are plagued by attacks from a manananggal. A little boy (IC Mendoza) suspects a nun (Aiko Melendez) to be that creature, but no one believes him. He finds himself racing to prove his suspicions before he becomes the monster's next victim.
  • Takot Ka Ba Sa Dilim? (1996) features a brief scene where Marjorie Barretto plays a young woman who turns into a ravenous manananggal at night who hunts for unsuspecting victims. Other cast members include Angelu de Leon, Rica Peralejo, Bobby Andrews, Red Sternberg, and Amanda Page.
  • In Manananggal in Manila (1997), an English-speaking manananggal (Alma Concepcion) spreads terror in Manila.
  • Banzai Girl is a 2002 graphic novel series created, written, and drawn by Filipino artist and model Jinky Coronado. Its main character (also named Jinky Coronado) is a seemingly ordinary schoolgirl, but has a mysterious connection to two other realities. When her worlds begin to collide, she is forced to battle various monsters, including a vicious manananggal.
  • Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia (2008) is an animated film directed by Robert Quilao whose plot revolves around Bubuy (Nash Aguas) who is out to save his abducted grandparents in the land of Elementalia. It features a friendly vegetarian manananggal named Anna (Katrina Legaspi), relating her to a different species of bat which is a fruit bat, as opposed the blood thirsty ones based on the folklore.[11] Pokwang co-stars.
  • Michael Deforge's comics anthology Lose #3 includes a three page wordless comic entitled "Manananggal".
  • In Episode 5, "Island Lights" (The Island of Fire) of Marvel Anime: Blade (2011), Blade and his partners encounter a mutated version of the manananggal and its victims while hunting down Deacon Frost on the island of Siquijor, an island province in the Philippines.
  • The Aswang Phenomenon (2011), directed by Jordan Clark, is a documentary exploration of the aswang folklore and its effects on Philippine society. The evolution and history of the manananggal is explored from an anthropological, sexual and pop culture view. Produced by High Banks Entertainment Ltd.,[12] the cast includes Peque Gallaga, Rodolfo Vera, and Maricel Soriano.
  • In the TV series Aso ni San Roque (2012), directed by Don Michael Perez, Fatima (Mona Louise Rey) is a blind girl with a heart of gold who is the offspring of a mortal and a manananggal. Her fate is to end the devastation of the Aswang in the human world with the help of Anghel, the dog statue of San Roque that has miraculously animated. It features Kanlaon (Gardo Versoza), the manananggal leader of the Aswang of the Wind (or Airborne aswangs). He once loved and failed to Lourdes (LJ Reyes), a manananggal herself and the mother of Fatima.
  • Fresh Meat (2013), a novel tie-in to the TV series Supernatural by Alice Henderson, features the main characters battling an aswang in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a blizzard. The creature in this novel sucks human organs out through a proboscis and inserts body parts of other humans into the victim then seals the hole. The main characters make a whip tipped with a stingray barb and coated with spices to kill the creature.
  • In Midnight Blue-Light Special (2013), the second volume of the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire, the protagonist Verity Price slays a manananggal in a hospital.
  • Mananang Game (2014) is an Android game by Jigzen Game Studios similar to Flappy Bird, featuring a manananggal.
  • The episode "Si Esperanza, Ang Rebeldeng Manananggal" ("Esperanza, The Rebel Manananggal") (2014) of the Philippine TV series Elemento is about Esperanza (Glaiza de Castro), a pediatrician with two mortal sons, her desire to protect her children and avoid the way of the life of being a manananggal. The episode is directed by Topel Lee and co-stars Valerie Concepcion and Maria Isabel Lopez.
  • Nightfall: Escape (2016) by Zeenoh is the first ever Filipino horror game,[13] a first-person survival horror video game featuring a manananggal as the main antagonist.
  • "Scary Mother" (2017 Georgian movie) by Ana Urushadze. Development of the main character is based on the legend of the manananggal.
  • "Deadly Vows" by Keri Arthur has a manananggal which is terrorizing newlyweds in the Castle Rock reservation.

Other terms and versions[edit]

  • Aswang: However, aswang is a generic term and can refer to all types of monsters (usually ghouls, werebeasts, and vampires) and witches (mangkukulam), etc.
  • Tik-tik: Manananggals are sometimes referred to as tik-tik, the sound it makes while flying. Folklore dictates that the fainter the sound, the nearer the manananggal is. This is to confuse the victim. Black cats and crows often signal a tik-tik's presence, and deformed faces or bodies in children are allegedly signs of the aftermath of a tik-tik attack.

See also[edit]

  • Chonchon – Mapuche creature that also detaches its head
  • Krasue – Floating vampiric female head and entrails that is similar to a manananggal
  • Nukekubi – Japanese creature that also detaches its head to feed on victims
  • Penanggalan – A vampire akin to Manananggal from the Malay peninsula
  • Leyak – Similar creature from Balinese mythology
  • Philippine mythology
  • Soucouyant – a Caribbean blood-sucking hag
  • Tiyanak – Blood-sucking creature in a form of a baby that turns into what is known to be the child of the devil


  1. ^ Alip, Eufronio Melo (1950). Political and Cultural History of the Philippines. Philippines.
  2. ^ a b Ramos, Maximo D. (1971). Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. Philippines: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 978-971-06-0691-7.
  3. ^ Bane, Theresa (2010). Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology. USA: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4452-6.
  4. ^ Paraiso, Salvador; Jose Juan Paraiso (2003). The Balete Book: A Collection of Demons, Monsters and Dwarfs from the Philippine Lower Mythology. Philippines: Giraffe Books. ISBN 978-971-8832-79-0.
  5. ^ Blair, Emma (1903–1909). The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, V7, 1588-1591. USA: Arthur H. Clark Company.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  6. ^ {{cite book |title= Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala |last=Delos Santos|first=Domingo |year=1835 |publisher=Tomas Oliva|isbn= |page=191|url=
  7. ^ "Early Pinoy Horror movies a compilation of classic Filipino movie".
  8. ^ Garcia, Jessie B. (2004). A Movie Album Quizbook. Iloilo City, Philippines: Erehwon Books & Magazine. ISBN 978-971-93297-0-1.
  9. ^ a b c "Manananggal vs Mangkukulam 1960".
  10. ^ "LIPAD, DARNA, LIPAD (1973)".
  11. ^ "Lea Salonga sings Dayo theme "Lipad" live (with video)".
  12. ^ Clark, Jordan (2011) The Aswang Phenomenon High Banks Entertainment Ltd.
  13. ^ Lee, Mary-Anne Lee (2014) Nightfall Franchise Tech in Asia.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]