Not to be confused with the Aswang, the Manananggal is a mythical vampiric creature that can separate its upper body from its lower body.
Believed to have originated in the Philippines, the creature is said to take female form during the day and transform into a hideous killer at night, with huge, leathery, bat-like wings and sharp teeth.
The vampiric Manananggal are occasionally called “Tik-tik,” and this is because they are thought to be accompanied by a bird that makes a “tik-tik” sound. It is said that the sound of the bird heralds the imminent arrival of a Manananggal.
One unique characteristic of the Manananggal compared to its vampiric cousins is the ability to separate its lower body and upper body (the word “manananggal” means “one who detaches”). The lower body stays rooted to the ground while the upper half flies off to look for new victims.
The monster will attempt to hide its lower body where it cannot be found and must reattach before sunrise, or she will die.
This self-segmenting monster is known for its predilection for the organs of human fetuses, using its sharp and hollow tongue to burrow into a pregnant woman’s womb and suck out what it wants.
The tongue is long and thin, and the Manananggal can direct it through small cracks and windows to reach her victim. As the creature’s victim sleeps, the tongue enters through an orifice such as a mouth or ear and begins feasting.
They are said to feed on the blood, organs, and entrails of adults, but legend says they much prefer to feed on the young.
Much like the vampires of the Western world, the Manananggal has an aversion to salt and garlic. They do not like daggers, spices, or holy water either.
What is also similar is that Manananggals are thought to have been human before being infected by another Manananggal.
In order to kill a Manananggal, one must find the creature’s lower body and cover it with ash, garlic, or salt. In doing so, the Manananggal will not be able to rejoin the two halves of her body and, therefore, she will die.
How someone becomes a Manananggal is a big part of Philippine lore. The story goes that a black chick lives inside the stomach of each Manananggal and must be passed from one host to another, usually when the incumbent host is on her deathbed.
The chick slowly eats all of its new host’s entrails but somehow keeps them alive. The host then begins to crave human flesh and eventually transforms into one of these horrific entities.
One way to prevent someone from turning into a Manananggal is to remove the chick before it reaches maturity. Legend suggests that this is done by hanging the victim upside down and beating and shaking them until they vomit up the chick. A case of the cure being almost as bad as the illness.
Once the creature has begun separating and feasting on humans, it is too late to remove the bird, and the Manananggal must be killed.
Another theory is that you can become a Manananggal by anointing yourself with a special ointment and placing an egg containing a black chick under your arm until the egg disappears.
A third theory is that survivors of Manananggal attacks will inevitably become one themselves.
Sightings and Tales
In May 1992, in Manila, a woman called Martina Santa Rosa reported an attack by a Manananggal. She said she saw half of the creature’s body and it was naked. She had long hair and nails and very sharp teeth.
Martina’s neighbor backed up the report, saying she had seen the creature’s upper body flying away from Martina’s house.
A boy described an experience that his friend had told him about. His friend had walked into his room one evening and was confronted by the sight of a giant bat with a human face.
The creature was attached to the outside of his window, which was about 50 feet above the ground. It is thought that the beast was there because it realized the boy’s mother was pregnant…
Apparently, one man inadvertently married a Manananggal. He became suspicious of his wife because she always went outside at midnight.
One night he decided to follow her, whereupon he witnessed her transformation and saw her upper body fly into the sky. He also saw her kill a person by sucking their blood.
The man destroyed his wife’s lower body, and being unable to rejoin her two halves, she died. This particular story, however, is believed to be part of Philippine folklore.
Manananggal sightings are still occurring in the Philippines today. In February 2023, two girls reported seeing a terrifying creature on the roof of a neighbor’s house in Talisay City.
The creature was soon identified as a Manananggal, and reports of sightings came flooding over the next few days. The incident caused the Talisay Chief of police, Lieutenant Colonel Randy Caballes, to issue an appeal for calm. They asked residents to be wary of spreading misinformation and assured the public that they were investigating.
Where to find
cryptopia.us, “Manananggal (Philippine Islands),” accessed October 20, 2017,
philippinetales.weebly.com, “Manananggal,” accessed October 20, 2017,
thinkaboutitdocs.com, “1992: May UFO & Alien Sightings,” accessed October 20, 2017,
ztevetevans.wordpress.com, “Philippine Folklore: Meet the Vampiric, Cannibalistic, Manananggal,” accessed October 20, 2017,
nationalcryptidsociety.org, “NCS Case File #11: Bat-Creature with Human Face in Hawaii,” accessed October 20, 2017,
folklore.usc.edu, “Folk Belief – Philippines,” accessed October 20, 2017,
https://www.indy100.com/viral/manananggal-philippines-sighting-talisu-city-2659438478, “Police call for calm following ‘sighting of mythical bat creature’ in Philippines,” accessed March 2, 2023,
https://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/488430/manananggal-in-talisay-city-public-told-to-refrain-from-spreading-unverified-reports, “‘Manananggal’ in Talisay City? Public told to refrain from spreading unverified reports,” accessed March 2, 2023.
- An artist’s impression of a Manananggal. Pic credit: PBS
Last modified on March 20th, 2023 at 12:55 pm