Manananggal vs. Penanggal

Of all the characters in the rich Philippine folklore, I find Manananggal to be the most terrifying. It is a beautiful woman capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat-like wings to prey on unsuspecting, pregnant women in their homes; using an elongated proboscis-like tongue, it sucks the hearts of fetuses or blood of an unsuspecting, sleeping victim. The severed lower torso is left standing and it is said to be the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt or 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 and will die at daybreak. The term manananggal comes from the Tagalog, "tanggal" which means to remove/separate, thus "manananggal" means the one who separates itself from its lower body.

In Malaysian, Indonesian & Singaporean folklore, a similar creature exists and it's called Penanggal or penanggalan.

A notable difference between a Penanggal and Manananggal is that a Penanggal detaches only her head with her lungs, stomach and intestines attached while leaving the body in a pre-prepared container filled with vinegar to preserve the body against rapid decomposition. Also, unlike the Manananggal which uses a proboscis-like tongue, a Penanggal is commonly depicted as having fangs.

Irma Alegre's (one of Philippine cinema's great actresses during the '80s) manananggal in the 1st "Shake, Rattle & Roll" movie scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. I think I was not able to sleep that night.


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