Here in the Philippines, we believe in a number of mythical creatures, especially in the rural areas. Examples are the Tiyanak (little baby demon), the Kapre (a giant that lives in a big tree called Balete), the Tikbalang (a half-man, half-horse creature), and many more.
But in these recent times, only a handful of people still believe in these monsters. Most Filipinos believe they’re just legends. It’s what I used to think, too.
Let me tell you about my experience with one of the Philippine monsters.
My parents call me Ising, though my real name is Isabella. I grew up in the town of Capiz, in the province. The people there always believed in a filthy monster called Manananggal.
The Manananggal takes the form of a very beautiful maiden during the day, and at night it shifts to its true form. Weird, because to transform, it must detach its upper body from its lower body and grow giant bat wings. Its nails will turn into sharp claws which it uses to rip its victims to shreds. Its teeth will turn into fangs and its tongue can grow very long and thin as thread.
The Manananggal is similar to another Philippine monster called Aswang. However, the Aswang is primarily a shapeshifter. It can turn into animals to mislead their victims and return to their true form when their victim is most vulnerable. The main similarity between the Aswang and Manananggal is their favorite delicacy fresh and unborn human babies.
Though the Manananggals have slightly different tastes, (some allure men into marrying them some have one-night stands then devour their partner), there was a specific Manananggal in our town who ravaged all the pregnant women.
I was nine years old at the time. My mother was carrying in her womb my supposed to be 7th sibling. That night, we heard a flapping noise.
Four pregnant women had been victimized by then, so my father climbed onto the roof of our house carrying an itak (a knife similar to a machete). He found nothing there.
Still, we stayed up the whole night in terror.
The next day, after I finished helping with the chores, I was outside playing with my friends when a pretty woman approached me.
She told me that the Manananggal is real, and she saw it with her own eyes. She then told me to follow her, because she was going to show me something that could kill the Manananggal when it strikes.
But I already knew how to kill it. Legends say that finding the lower part of the Manananggal’s body and putting salt on the part where it detaches will prevent the creature from uniting with its body. Like vampires with garlic, that’s how the Manananggal is with salt. And like the vampire being unable to return to its coffin before the dawn, if the Manananggal cannot reunite with its lower body, it will die in the sunlight.
Still, I followed the lady. She brought me to a secluded nipa hut hidden deep in the forest. She told me that when the Manananggal attacks, I should go in the hut and take the little clay pot.
She didn’t tell me what was inside the pot, or what to do with it, but I trusted her.
Three nights had passed and there was no sign of the creature. We all felt less scared, and it seemed as if everything had returned to normal, but I still didn’t feel very comfortable.
On the fourth night, everyone in my family was in deep sleep except for me. The mysterious woman and the creepy nipa hut were still etched in my mind.
Then I heard someone moan. It was a woman. Was it mom and dad again?
One time, I walked in on them having sex. They had told me that they were just playing and were real hot so they weren’t wearing anything. Now I knew how stupid I was because there was a storm at the time.
Mom moaned again. I ignored it and tried to sleep. But mom moaned louder. Again and again. Each moan grew louder than before. Then she screamed.
I ran to their room to check out what happened. A long, thin thread was inside her vagina and was taking out something from it.
My father got up and brought out his itak. My older brother, Juan, ran through the town, summoning help from the men and warning women and children about the Manananggal in our house. Moments later, a mob of men appeared in our house carrying itaks and torches.
Everybody saw it. The Manananggal. It was still on our roof, trying to draw its tongue back, pulling with it my unborn sibling.
I was still in a state of shock when I remembered the pretty lady and the hidden nipa hut.
I quickly took a handful of salt from the kitchen and ran to the forest. I knew it would be dangerous for a little girl like me; I still went in, doing it for my mother.
I ran as fast as I could until I reached the nipa hut. I dashed through the door and found the lower part of a woman’s body standing in the middle of the single room.
I was scared, but I had enough courage to throw all the salt I held in my hand on its waist.
I then searched the house for the little clay pot. I found it in the corner. I took it with me and dashed out of the hut knowing the Manananggal will arrive soon.
After that night, no one heard of the foul creature again.
Fourteen years have passed and now I live in Manila. I still have the little pot I took from the hut. How I wish I’d never found it. Because I opened the pot and found something very fragrant inside. It was some sort of meat. It smelled so tempting. I took a bite. It was better than I expected. Soon, I finished the entire contents of the pot.
The same night, I began to feel very strange. I was hungry for more. More of the delicious meat inside the pot. My teeth and nails began to grow sharp and pointed. My waist hurt so much it felt as if it would rip off. And it did. Simultaneously, bat wings exploded from my back.
I was in so much pain. I remember screaming. After that, my memory was blank. The next thing I remember, I was back in my room, blood all over my body, and in my hand, a half eaten fetus.
Every night, I go through the same cycle of pain and intense hunger. And when I wake up, I’ll see body parts or half-eaten fetuses around me.
I always wish that every time I transform, I won’t wake up.
Won’t anyone help me, please? Just a pinch of salt?
Written by Spikesterino