The Manananggal (sometimes confused with the Wak Wak and Aswang, also translates literally to “Remover”) is a vampire-like mythical creature of 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. 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.
The myth of the Manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo 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 and salt. They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. 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.