In Philippine folklore the ungga-ungga of Visayas and Mindanao (also known as bog-bog, oka-oka, ug-ug, wowog, wuwug or wugwug, and yog-yog) is an aswang variant and a manananggal relative that appears similar to the penanggal or penanggalan of Indonesia and Malaysia, and the krasue of Thailand. In the morning the creature is an ordinary person but come sundown, especially on midnight its head detaches from the body and hovers off with its entrails and some organs dangling in the air, leaving the body behind. The ungga-ungga’s intestines rotate rapidly making a sound akin to that of a rope being rotated in the air. It is assumed the rotating intestines propel the creature in the air. But unlike the penanggal and the krasue, there are male ungga-ungga. The creature preys on pregnant women, the child inside the mother’s womb, and babies by sucking the victims’ blood. It sucks the blood using its tongue which can stretch into a sharp-tipped, rope-like proboscis while perched on the roof or hovering under the house.
When pregnant women and babies are hard to come by, some ungga-ungga resort to attacking people at night. Despite being just a flying heads with dangling entrails, it can take on full grown men. The ungga-ungga tackles the victim using its hair which can grow very long and as hard as wires. With its hair the creature will try to strangle, blind, or suffocate by stuffing the victim’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. If they are near a lake, river, or stream it will try to drown the victim. The creature will also lift a person in the air at a dangerous height and drop him to kill the victim. When the victim has been incapacitated or dead, the creature will suck the blood or feast on the innards, especially the liver. The ungga-ungga will leave the victim alone only if the latter proves to be too strong or pulls on the creature’s entrails. A person may also lie down flat on his belly on the ground to discourage the creature from attacking. It is believed the ungga-ungga and even other self-segmenting aswang won’t attack if the potential victim ducks on the ground lower than a person’s waist, as it is believed these creatures don’t want their dangling entrails to touch the ground. The ungga-ungga also prey on animals, especially chickens and ducks.
The ungga-ungga won’t go near a house surrounded by bamboo thickets, fearing that their hair and entrails might get entangled among the thorns.
In other places the ungga-ungga is called sawsaw-suka because before the head separates from the body, it applies black vinegar or ‘suka’ in Tagalog all over the body. It should be noted that according to Malay folklore the penanggal dips its entrails in vinegar so that these would fit well inside the neck stump when it reattaches itself to its body.
In Fray Juan de Plasencia’s “Relacion de las Costumbres de Los Tagalos” (1589) the creature was known as magtatanggal among the Tagalog people.
Encounter with a Wuwug
Wowie, a resident of Barangay Sal-ing in Balilihan town had a close encounter with a wuwug.
He said he went home after attending a village disco when he heard an unfamiliar sound. And when he looked up at the sky, he saw a head floating. He ran and hid behind a coconut tree. (Source: leoudtohan.blogspot.com/2016/10/meet-pinoys-supernatural-creatures.html)
Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore. Philippine Folklore Society, 1971.
Art drawn in Nintendo DS Lite using ColorsDS.