10 Terrifying Facts About The Manananggal – The Most Notorious Creature in Philippine Mythology

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.


The Manananggal, a legendary creature in Philippine mythology and considered the most notorious type of aswang, is both fascinating and terrifying. Revered and feared by many, this bloodthirsty creature has become an infamous figure in Filipino folklore. In this article, we delve into its backstory, physical attributes, chilling habits, and its influence on modern media. Keep reading to discover more about this horrifying creature.

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Maria The Manananggal – A Tale of Terrible Transformations

Deep in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, in a village forgotten by time, a chilling tale whispered by the ancient wind takes form. The tale of the Manananggal, a creature of darkness, both beguiling and terrifying. A woman by day, a dreadful beast when darkness descends.

Maria, as she was known in her human guise, was an enchantress of unparalleled beauty. She wore a captivating smile, her eyes shimmering with the secrets she bore. Her voice, soft and melodious, hid a deadly secret. At the stroke of midnight, she would undergo a chilling transformation, as unsettling as it was supernatural.

As the village slumbered, under the protective blanket of night, Maria would retreat into the solitude of her modest hut. The transformation began – a gruesome spectacle as her torso detached from her lower body. It was an act of self-inflicted division, driven by a thirst that human form couldn’t quench. Wings, monstrous and bat-like, sprouted from her back, turning her into a shadowy spectacle against the moonlit sky.

Under the cloak of darkness, the Manananggal would take flight. She was a silent predator, her wings slicing through the dense tropical air. Her eyes glowed with an unholy light, scanning the sleeping village for her preferred victims – pregnant women, their unborn children a source of life for her.

Her tongue, unnaturally long and forked, was her instrument of death. She used it with deadly precision, penetrating the roofs of nipa huts, seeking out the slumbering expectant mothers. She would siphon the life-force of the unborn, their innocent blood fueling her immortality.

However, Maria’s existence was a dance on the edge of a blade. Her survival hinged on reuniting with her lower body before the first ray of dawn broke. For sunlight would reduce her to mere ashes.

One fateful night, a brave villager named Diego discovered her dreadful secret. Consumed by a desperate need to protect his village, Diego devised a plan. As Maria, in her Manananggal form, took flight, Diego infiltrated her hut. He poured mounds of salt and crushed garlic on her lower body, a known deterrent for creatures of darkness.

As dawn approached, Maria, engorged and satisfied, returned to her hut, her heart pounding with the thrill of her feast. Unaware of Diego’s intervention, she attempted to rejoin her lower body. The salt and garlic burnt her, their essence searing her unholy flesh.


With a bone-chilling scream, Maria the Manananggal was consumed by the first light of dawn, her reign of terror ending in a spectacle of light and ash.

Diego’s courage became a tale of its own, a reminder that even the darkest nightmares can be vanquished. The story of the Manananggal, however, remains a cautionary tale, echoing through the dense Philippine jungles, a chilling reminder of the dangers that lurk beneath the moonlit shadows.

Origin and History of The Manananggal

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Legendary Roots

The Manananggal finds its roots in pre-colonial Philippine folklore, where supernatural creatures such as aswangs were believed to be responsible for various misfortunes. The Manananggal, specifically, is often associated with attacks targeting pregnant women, making it one of the most dreaded figures in Philippine mythology.

The Manananggal in Philippine Culture

The Manananggal is considered the most terrifying among the aswang creatures. Locals in the rural areas of the Visayas and Mindanao regions have various beliefs and practices aimed at warding off these creatures and protecting their communities.

Disturbing Physical Features of The Manananggal

Appalling Appearance

The Manananggal appears as a human-like creature with bat-like wings. Its most horrifying feature is its ability to sever its upper torso from its lower body, leaving its lower half on the ground while the upper half flies off to hunt for its prey.

The Manananggal’s Transformation

During the day, The Manananggal appears as an ordinary human, often described as a beautiful woman. However, at night, it transforms into a monstrous creature with elongated limbs, sharp fangs, and wings. This transformation allows it to prey on unsuspecting victims.

The Fearful Habits of The Manananggal


Feeding Habits

The Manananggal’s diet primarily consists of blood, particularly from fetuses and newborn babies. Using its long, proboscis-like tongue, it sucks the blood and extracts the unborn fetus from pregnant women while they sleep.

Habits and Abilities

The Manananggal’s supernatural abilities and habits include shape-shifting, flight, and the ability to put victims in a hypnotic trance, rendering them helpless. It is said to be vulnerable when separated from its lower half and can be defeated by sprinkling salt or ash on its exposed organs.

10 Bone-chilling Facts About The Manananggal

  1. The Manananggal hunts alone, unlike other aswangs that hunt in groups.
  2. It can stretch its limbs to astonishing lengths, allowing it to reach prey through narrow openings.
  3. The Manananggal is sometimes called Tik-tik or Wak-wak because of the sound its wings produce while hunting.
  4. It disguises itself as a beautiful woman during the day to attract prey or a male partner.
  5. Some regions believe The Manananggal can turn others into Manananggals.
  6. Funeral rites in some areas incorporate practices to ensure the deceased is not transformed into a Manananggal.
  7. To protect yourselves from a Manananggal, sleep with a broom by your bedside; they are afraid of brooms.
  8. The Manananggal is immortal unless its severed upper torso is exposed to sunlight.
  9. The name Manananggal comes from the Filipino word, “tanggal,” meaning to separate or remove
  10. Besides the Philippines, stories of The Manananggal extend to Indonesia and Malaysia where similar creatures are known as Leyaks and Penanggalans, respectively.

The Manananggal in Modern Media

Film and Book Adaptations

The Manananggal has been featured in various Filipino films, like the horror film “Manananggal sa Unit 23B as well as the popular graphic novel series Trese.

Influence on Popular Culture

The Manananggal has become an iconic figure in Philippine culture. It is often depicted in art, literature, and even street festivals, influencing the public’s perception of mythological creatures in the Philippines.


The Manananggal is a terrifying part of Filipino folklore with a harrowing reputation. From its chilling habits and appearance to its influence on modern media, the mythology surrounding this creature continues to captivate readers and audiences alike. As you venture deeper into the world of Philippine mythology, remember to tread cautiously, for the creatures that inhabit these tales are not for the faint of heart.


Frequently Asked Questions about ‘The Manananggal’ – The Most Notorious Creature in Philippine Mythology

What is the Manananggal?

The Manananggal is a legendary creature in Philippine mythology, known as a type of aswang. It is considered one of the most feared and notorious supernatural creatures in Filipino folklore, with the unique ability to sever its upper torso from its lower body and fly off in search of prey.

What is the origin of the Manananggal?

The origin of the Manananggal can be traced back to pre-colonial Philippine folklore, where supernatural creatures such as aswangs were believed to cause various misfortunes. The Manananggal, in particular, is often associated with attacks targeting pregnant women.

How does the Manananggal appear during the day and night?

During the day, the Manananggal appears as an ordinary human, often described as a beautiful woman. At night, however, it transforms into a monstrous creature with elongated limbs, sharp fangs, and bat-like wings, enabling it to hunt for its prey.

What are the feeding habits of the Manananggal?

The Manananggal primarily feeds on the blood of fetuses and newborn babies. It uses its long, proboscis-like tongue to suck blood and extract unborn fetuses from pregnant women while they sleep.

How do you protect yourself from a Manananggal?

To protect yourself from a Manananggal, it is advised to sleep with a broom by your bedside, as Manananggals are afraid of brooms. Additionally, you can display folkloric charms or other items believed to ward off evil spirits.

How can the Manananggal be defeated?

The Manananggal is vulnerable when its upper torso is separated from its lower body. One can defeat the creature by sprinkling salt or ash on its exposed organs while the upper half is away from the lower half. Furthermore, exposing its severed upper torso to sunlight can also kill the creature.

Why is the Manananggal sometimes called Tik-tik or Wak-wak?

The Manananggal is sometimes called Tik-tik or Wak-wak because of the sound its wings produce while hunting. Tik-tik and Wak-wak are onomatopoeic words imitating the wingbeat noise of this creature.

Can the Manananggal turn others into Manananggals?

In some regions, there is a belief that the Manananggal can turn others into Manananggals, though this detail varies among different sources and mythologies.

What does the name ‘Manananggal’ mean?

The name ‘Manananggal’ comes from the Filipino word, “tanggal,” which means to separate or remove, referencing the creature’s ability to separate its upper torso from its lower body.

Are there similar creatures found in other cultures?

Yes, stories of similar creatures to the Manananggal can be found in Indonesia and Malaysia. These creatures are called Leyaks in Indonesia and Penanggalans in Malaysia, and share the unique ability to sever their upper bodies from their lower halves.

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