Bat-winged vampire witches spread panic in the Philippines
On the evening of 7 February, two young girls in Barangay Dumlog, part of Cebu City in the Philippines, went to a neighbour’s house to use the WiFi connection there; on the way home, they claim they were frightened by seeing a manananggal on the roof of another house, belonging to Albert Samson, 71, and fled crying to their home.
Manananggals (see FT64:11, 106:18, 342:18) are fearsome creatures of Philippine folklore, similar to the penanggal of Thailand; they are generally female and seen as a kind of witch or demon that can separate the upper and lower parts of their bodies. Once separated, the upper section sprouts bat-like wings, allowing it to fly into the night and hunt for food; it is essentially vampiric and is supposed to be particularly fond of attacking pregnant women and their
They are generally female and seen as a kind of witch or demon
unborn children. It is possible to destroy a manananggal by finding the lower part of its body and spreading it with salt or ash, or by exposing it to sunlight, and like vampires they have an aversion to garlic.
After the girls’ sighting, rumours of the creature spread rapidly throughout the district leading to the police investigating to try and calm things down, issuing a statement from Samson saying that he’d not seen or heard anything on his house, just the girls crying and shouting, along with corroboration from another neighbour. If anything, their involvement merely served to fan the panic, particularly when they asked members of the public to report sightings of “anything unusual”. There were further reports of the entity in Barangay Dumlog on 9 February, and while police again appealed for calm, news that the girls who had made the original sighting were now undergoing counselling for stress did little to settle the city. There were further reports of the creature on 16 February and additional sightings in the neighbouring area of Turburan, where it was reported that a different entity, with a human body and a pig’s head, had been seen as well.
Much of the panic about the manananggal has been spread by social media, with various people posting videos of blurry “sightings” and showing groups of people out on the street hunting for the creature or its remaining body, despite repeated police interventions. The Philippines has periodic manananggal panics, with a notable one affecting turnout for the 1992 elections, when the Tondo district of Manila was rumoured to be stalked by one, with many local women allegedly suffering miscarriages that were blamed on the mananaggal. As one local said at the time: “In my village, no pregnant woman goes out after dark,” mb.com.ph, 10 Feb; cebudailynews.inquirer.net, 10+13 Feb; ancient-origins.net, 14 Feb; hitc.com, 18 Feb 2023.