Ungga-Ungga the flying head


In Philippine folklore the ungga-ungga of Visayas (known as wuwug in Bohol) is a manananggal relative that appears similar to the penanggal or penanggalan of Indonesia and Malaysia, and the krasue of Thailand. During daytime the creature is an ordinary-looking person or a practitioner of witchcraft but come sundown its head detaches from the body and hovers off with its glistening or glowing entrails and organs dangling in the air, leaving the body behind. The ungga-ungga’s intestines undulate or rotate rapidly making a sound akin to that of a ceiling fan or 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, thread-like proboscis while perched on the roof or hovering under the house.


An ungga-ungga with its dangling entrails and killer hair.

When pregnant women and babies are hard to come by some ungga-ungga resort to attacking people at night. Despite being just flying heads with dangling entrails and organs, they can take on full grown men. An ungga-ungga will tackle 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 liver. An 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 can 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 won’t go near a house surrounded by bamboo thickets, fearing that their hair and entrails might get entangled among the thorns.

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: http://leoudtohan.blogspot.com/2016/10/meet-pinoys-supernatural-creatures.html)


Ang Biktima ni Angeli

angeli-aswangNOTE: English version of story below.

Habang hinuhubad ang pares ng duguang gwantes napatingin si Angeli sa salamin upang sulyapan ang kanyang ginawa. Walang buhay na nakahandusay sa sahig ng comfort room ang pinakahuli nitong biktima – isang freshman sa unibersidad – na ang dugo ay nagkalat sa tiles mula sa nakangangang hiwa sa tiyan ng dalaga. Mula sa hiwa na iyon ay kanyang hinugot at nilantakan ang atay ng biktima. Ang natira ay kanyang sinilid sa plastic na garapon sa kanyang bag. Napakasarap ng atay ng dalaga. Nalalasap pa rin niya ang sarap sa kanyang bibig. Matapos ang isang taon, muli siyang nakatikim niyon, na paborito ng kanyang mga ka-uri.
Mga tatlong linggo din niyang minanmanan ang kanyang biktima. Nagpanggap pa siyang estudyante sa pinapasukan nitong unibersidad. Sa wakas dumating ang pagkakataon nang gabing iyon nang tumungo ng mag-isa sa comfort room ang estudyante bago umuwi. Hindi na nito nagawang makatili nang baliin ni Angeli ang leeg nito. Pagkatapos ay sinimulan niyang hiwain ang estudyante gamit ang scalpel. Mga matatalas na kuko niya sana ang kanyang gagamitin ngunit hindi madaling alisin ang dugo kapag sumuot sa ilalim ng kuko, lalo pa’t may pupuntahan pang gimik si Angeli.
Maingat niyang sinilid sa plastic ang hinubad na mga gwantes at nilagay sa kanyang bag. Tinignan niya ang sarili sa salamin. Maliban sa dugo sa kanyang mga labi at sa baba at iilang talsik sa kanyang mga braso, walang bahid nito sa kanyang uniporme. Matapos iligpit ang scalpel, naghilamos at naghugas si Angeli. Muli niyang sinulyapan ang kanyang biktima bago umalis.
Ni hindi man lang siya napansin ng dalawang security guard sa gate nang siyang dumaan palabas na animo’y ihip ng hangin lamang.
Kinabukasan agad nabalita ang pagkatagpo sa bangkay ng kanyang biktima na wakwak ang tiyan at wala nang atay. Napangiti si Angeli nang sinabi sa balita na baka aswang ang may kagagawan.

Angeli’s Victim

While removing her bloodied gloves, Angeli glanced at her handy work through the mirror. Her latest victim – a freshman student in the university – lay dead on the comfort room floor with her blood spilled on the tiles from the gaping incision in the girl’s belly. Through this incision, Angeli pulled out ate partially ate the victim’s liver. The rest she put in a small plastic jar in her bag. The girl’s liver was exquisite. Angeli can still taste its goodness in her mouth. After a year, she has once again tasted human liver which is a favorite of her kind.
She observed her victim for at least three weeks. She even disguised as a student in the girl’s university. At last the opportunity came when that night the student went to the comfort room alone before going home. The girl wasn’t able to shriek when Angeli broke her neck. Then she started to cut her open with a scalpel. She would have used her claws but washing off the blood wasn’t easy once they’ve gotten under the nails, especially that Angeli is going on a night out later.
She carefully put the gloves in a plastic bag and placed it in her bag. She checked herself in the mirror. Except for the blood on her lips and chin and some splatters on her forearms, her uniform was unstained. After getting rid of the scalpel, Angeli cleaned herself. She took a last glance at her victim before leaving.
The two security guards at the gate didn’t even notice her as she slipped past them like a gust of wind.
The following day, there was news on her victim who was found cut open with the liver gone. Angeli smiled when it was speculated that the culprit could be an aswang.


Another manananggal cousin


Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?

The abat or awok is the Eastern Visayan variant of the manananggal in Philippine folklore. Like the latter, an abat detaches from its lower half of the body at the waist but instead of growing wings on its back, its arms are the ones that transform into bat-like wings. It has bloodshot eyes which almost bulge out of their sockets. Like the manananggal, an abat must rejoin its discarded lower half before sunrise otherwise it will die.

Manananggal’s wingless cousin


A wingless cousin of the manananggal on the prowl.

The anananggal are self-segmenting aswang in the Eastern Visayan folklore of the Philippines. Unlike their cousins, the manananggal of Luzon, anananggal are wingless like the Indonesian penanggal, and can render themselves invisible – an ability which gives them freedom to enter any house unnoticed.
Aside from preying on pregnant women and attacking children or those who wander at night and the wee hours, anananggal also have a knack for sniffing a corpse in a wake.
To them the smell of a corpse is so irresistible that they would enter a house where there is a wake for the dead and sniff the corpse until they are forced to leave by the approaching dawn. Contact with citrus fruits prevent them from flying. An anananggal will die should sunlight shine upon it while in its segmented form, or if salt, spices, and ash are placed on the stump of its discarded lower half.

‘Werewolves’ in the Philippines

Werewolves, persons who turn into wolves are the stuff of legend in Europe and in North America. First used before the 12th century the word werewolf is a combination of the two Old English words “wer”, meaning “man” and “wulf” which means “wolf”. Tales of persons turning into wolves, especially on full moon nights have long persisted in Europe, especially in its Eastern lands and among the Indian tribes of North America where they are mostly referred to as skinwalkers.
The act of changing into a wolf was called lycanthropy in the late 16th century and was linked with witchcraft and devil worship. Those who were found guilty were either hanged, burned alive, or beheaded. In modern psychological terms lycanthropy refers to a mental disorder where a person thinks he is truly becoming a wolf.
In the Philippines, before the Spanish colonization, there was no such thing as lycanthropy or werewolves because there were no wolves in the archipelago. Instead, the natives believed that some individuals shape-shifted into a variety of animals found in their locality such as dogs, cats, and pigs or boars. Referred to as “false beasts” or “werebeasts” by those who study the country’s various folklore, these creatures are identified as belonging to one of five types of the dreaded aswang. Incidentally, the old imagery of the aswang was someone who turned into a black dog at night. The word aswang itself is supposedly based on the term asu-asuan or aso ang wangis which means “dog-like”.
The ancient folks of the province of Aklan in Western Visayas believed these local “werewolves” belonged to the aswang malakat (walking aswang) group. These are aswangs confined to the ground and are unable to fly. Unlike their Western counterparts, the Philippines’ local werewolves are impervious to silver and don’t need the full moon or even the full cover of night in order to change into a canine-like beast. They are kept at bay using the tail of a stingray fashioned into a whip. Others were known to attack people as early as late afternoon before sundown.
In Aklan, the locals once feared the Kiwig (in local dialect means “uneven” or “sloping”), a person who turns into a big, black dog with a hunched and sloping back and a crooked tail. This creature was said to attack people who traveled alone or lingered outside at night. It also prowled under elevated houses, especially when there was a sick or dying person inside in order to lick the victim. They say one way to identify if a person is a kiwig is if he/she has a stooped posture and bloodshot eyes. The posture is linked to the suspect’s habit of hanging out under people’s houses while the bloodshot eyes are attributed to staying up all night.
Another werebeast from Western Visayas is the Sarut which literally means “pest”. Found in the folklore of Iloilo locals, this person who turns into a big, dog-like creature at night not only attacks people but would also cause great losses to those who own chickens, ducks, goats, and pigs by feeding on the animals’ internal organs. Thus, the sarut has been referred to as a pest. In recent years news of a large number of chickens, ducks, and some goats found dead and showed signs of having been devoured with missing innards caught the attention of the Ilonggos.
The Waray Malakat is a rather odd werebeast. Described as a person who changes into a hairy, canine-like creature, it attacks by extending its hard, wire-like hair. It uses its hair to either strangle or suffocate the victim by stuffing his/her eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. The creature would then feed on the unconscious or dead victim.
The Ungo of Cebuano folklore is a person who from time to time (generally at night) is compelled by a supernatural force to change into a hairy monster. When he has completely transformed into this monster, he sets out to hunt for victims in order to satiate his craving for human flesh and blood.
An ambush predator, the Korokoto of Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao lurks in the forest, lying in wait behind bushes or trees and pounces on unsuspecting persons. This shape-shifting aswang doesn’t always devour its victim while in dog-like form. Sometimes, after incapacitating its victim, it drags the person to its home. There it reverts to its human form then it slaughters and cooks the victim. A person encountered in the woods or in the forest might be a korokoto if his/her feet doesn’t touch the ground. It also murmurs a sound similar to its name.
Unlike its canine counterparts, the Motog of Bicol and some parts of Visayas is a werebeast of a different nature. A man by day, at night it shape-shifts into a tall, black, and hairy humanoid creature with a boar’s head. Known to be vicious, this beast attacks and pursues its victims relentlessly. It mauls a victim to death with its long, sharp tusks and gorges his innards. It is said all motog are exclusively male.
There are other unnamed werebeasts in the country’s diverse folklore. One involves a big, black pig caught prowling under a sick person’s house. Those who caught it put the animal in a cage only to find a woman in its stead in the morning. In another story, the husband of a pregnant woman gets irked with the incessant scratching on the roof of their house one night. The furious husband bolts out of their house and sees a large black cat crouched on top of their roof. In anger, he hurls a stone at the animal but misses. To his surprise, the cat chases after the rolling stone, grabs it, and throws it back at him.
The werebeasts, although could be killed using conventional weapons, are hard to hit as proven in most accounts. These creatures are mostly swift enough to evade gunshots or blows with bladed weapons or tough enough to survive one. When injured, a werebeast will go home immediately. There it will try its best to lick the wound or apply its saliva on it. It is believed some aswangs could heal their injuries in no time by just licking them or applying them with their saliva.
Like other aswangs, werebeasts hunt in places other than their own village or town in order to avoid the discovery of their true identity. They also rarely attack groups of people. In the olden days, it was believed that women who wear their long hair down were safe from werebeast attacks although it is never explained how this works.



Andres, T.D. Dictionary of Filipino Culture and Values.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Creatures of Midnight.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore.

The Fetus-eaters in Philippine Folklore

The fetus-eaters are aswangs or creatures in Philippine folklore that specialize not only in extracting and devouring a person’s internal organs but also in drawing out or feeding on a yet to be born child from inside a mother’s womb. They are the principal suspects for strange noises or sightings of strange creatures outside an expectant woman’s home. These sounds vary from alleged footsteps on the roof of the house, scratches on the wall and on the roof, grunts of a pig, flapping of large wings, the classic terrifying howl of a dog outside, and other unnatural or animal-like sounds like the famous “tik-tik-tik-tik” said to be made by a bird-like creature.
In most accounts, sightings of an unfamiliar dog, cat, or even livestock especially swine and the presence of abnormally large birds or bats fleeting about outside the house of a pregnant woman prelude the attacks. Other incidents before an attack include visits from unfamiliar faces such as an elderly person asking for water while stealing glances at the pregnant or encountering a stranger who seems to be delighted with the pregnant woman.
Miscarriages and still births were blamed on the fetus-eating aswangs. In the olden days, some victims were said to have been found lifeless in their bedrooms, their bellies either cut open or caved in with the fetus no longer inside the womb. Other cases tell of expectant women giving birth to nothing but masses of blood instead of wailing, cuddly babies.
Foiled attacks are also common and mothers who claim to have experienced an aswang attack describe feeling very warm despite a cold weather or the presence of air conditioning system after being awoken by human-like footsteps or scratches on the roof in the middle of the night or during the wee hours. According to them they felt uncomfortable, their bloated bellies hardening or tightening and the baby inside seemed uneasy and moved frequently. One or two mothers claimed to have woken up only to be terrified by a very long tongue suspended from the roof. Husbands, relatives, and neighbors would sometimes discover a person with skin as black as coal crouched on the roof, under the house, or clinging outside the window while staring hungrily at the intended victim.
Aside from their shared appetite for unborn children, most fetus-eaters have one common physical trait. They could extend their tongues to very long, even thread thin, tubular proboscis. These they use to pierce into the womb through the navel and inject enzymes that dissolve the fetus or organs which are then sucked out. Others use their tongues to penetrate into the womb to drain the baby’s blood. Some use non-physical means to acquire the desired fetus.

The lupad (flying ones)

As the name of their group suggests, these are flying fetus-eating aswangs. Most are known to grow wings or turn into bird-like creatures to fly while others defy the laws of flight and physics by taking to the air without wings. The flyers are notorious for landing on the roof of their intended victim’s house and soften their terrifying shriek into a faint cooing upon nearing the target.
There are two sub-groups of the fetus-eating lupad: the self-segmenters which discard (mostly) their lower halves of the body and those that fly without leaving any part of their body behind.

1. The self-segmenters

Self-segmenters (called tanggal by the ancient Tagalogs) are aswangs that could detach and leave a part of their bodies behind to hunt at night. They could also fly and most grow a pair of wings. All of them could extend their tongues to long, thread-like proboscis which they use to suck a fetus or the innards of a person. In the Province of Aklan in Western Visayas they are known as aswang hubot. Persons who turn into self-segmenters are generally believed to use a special oil or potion which they rub on their entire body or drop in the holes in their deep armpits while reciting a certain incantation. One such incantation goes like this:

“Siri-siri daing Dios kang banggi.
Haplos the daghan, layog sa kaharungan.
Dagos sa talampakan, layog sa kakahuyan.”

After that the person will grow leathery wings, sharp claws, fangs, and his torso starts to separate from the lower body. Some folks from Leyte and Capiz claim that some bend from the waist for about five minutes until the lower body detaches itself. In Catanduanes it is alleged that a self-segmenter stares at the full moon until gooey tears fall from its eyes then its body flies off.
Most self-segmenters separate their torsos from the lower halves but one variant, the Ikki or Iqui (also ike) separates not from the waist but from the knees. The creature was mentioned in a footnote of page four of the book The Aswang Syncrasy in Philippine Folklore. It stated:

“Informants from Atimonan, Quezon reported that the viscera-sucker discards its lower extremities from the knees down before flying out to forage.”

A normal person becomes a self-segmenter if he swallows the black chick-like creature that pops out of the mouth of a dying self-segmenter.
There are varying accounts on how to turn a self-segmenter into a normal human. One involves tying and hanging a person upside-down and letting him/her breathe thick smoke from a bonfire which results to nausea and vomiting of the black chick. Another method is making the afflicted person take medicine prepared by a witch doctor or herbolario.
Most self-segmenters have a common weakness. Disposing of their discarded halves (e.g.: putting salt, spices, ash on the stump or burning) will kill them. That is why most of them hide their lower halves in banana groves, secluded areas overgrown with reeds, or deep in the woods. Those that hide their discarded parts in their houses usually end up being discovered as proven in various stories.
It remains debatable as to why self-segmenters have to leave their lower halves behind but when I was in high school an old man told me that self-segmenters leave their lower parts behind so they can find their way back, especially that they travel over great distances. How this works was never explained but I assume the discarded half acts like a beacon for their return. However, these creatures’ orientation are impaired when their discarded halves are moved or switched places. They become confused and are unable to reconnect, which usually results to death at sunrise. In one story, a man discovers that his mistress and her two sisters were self-segmenters. One night when the three have gone out, he switched the places of their lower halves. Upon returning home, the three couldn’t reconcile which was which until they cried for the man to help them because sunrise was approaching.
But it seems losing a lower half did not always spell doom to all self-segmenters. In one tale the creature, after failing to find its discarded half (the cause never mentioned), took to the forest, choosing to lurk there, and swung from tree to tree with its arms like monkeys do and preyed on sleeping folks at night. It lost its wings but continued to look for its lower half.
Of all the self-segmenters in the Philippines, the most popular is the Manananggal of the Tagalog region. Its notoriety extends even to the most remote village anywhere in the archipelago. A foreigner interested with the manananggal can ask any local in the country about this creature and he would get a unanimous description: a creature that flies on bat-like wings, separates from the waist and leaves its lower half behind, sucks babies from pregnant women with its long, hollow, straw-like tongue, sharp talons, and attacks lone travelers at night. This image of the manananggal is imbedded into the minds of Filipinos through oral accounts and its portrayals in films and television shows, books, magazines, and comics. From time to time an alleged sighting of the creature made it to the news. Even in the anime movie Blade the manananggal was featured as the titular character’s nemesis.


A Manananggal flies by unnoticed.

To some a manananggal’s appearance is so incredible that a professor of mine in college said that the creature is a caricature of the country’s local female shamans or priestesses known as babaylan, cooked up by Spanish missionaries in the latter part of the Sixteenth Century to destroy the image of the local healers among the natives and in order to sway the population to convert to Catholic faith. He said the friars gave the babaylan bat-like wings so they would be associated with the devil who had bat wings. And the act of discarding the lower half of the body, where the female reproductive organ was located is symbolic of the old Catholic belief that the female genitalia is a source of temptation and desire for flesh. They accused the babaylan of stealing and eating infants like the harpies and the Lamia of ancient heathen Greece. He added, it is the reason why they say all manananggals are female.
There are various notions on the origins of the manananggal, the internet is saturated with them. The name manananggal which means “one who detaches” or “one who removes” is derived from the root word “tanggal” meaning “to detach”. The Indonesian viscera-sucker and vampire Penanggal also shares the same root word. The penanggal is somewhat similar in habit with the manananggal, the only difference is that the former detaches its head with its entrails dangling in the air and has no wings but floats. Speaking of penanggal, it seems this creature or its variants actually reached the Philippine archipelago a long time ago, for tales of similar creatures exist in the country. There was the Magtatanggal, mentioned by the Spanish missionary Juan de Plasencia in 1581 when he identified the supposed priests of the Devil in Luzon. In some parts of Eastern Visayas was the tale of the Wuwug or Wowog. As the story goes, a young man and his father went fishing at night. While they were fishing the son talked to his father. When the latter did not reply the son turned to check on him and saw his head floating above him with the entrails dangling and sparkling. The other one, called the Ungga-Ungga, Ungga, or Ongga was allegedly sighted in Negros Island before the Second World War. A certain strange sound is associated with this flying head as it hovers in the night sky with its dangling innards allegedly sparkling like a thousand fireflies.
The Abat is much like the manananggal except that it doesn’t grow wings on its back. Instead, its arms are the ones that transform into bat-like wings. Its eyes are bloodshot and almost bulge out of their sockets.
Another self-segmenter related to the manananggal could be found in Kapampangan folklore. The Magkukutud had the appearance of your classic manananggal but this one was said to lay eggs. Yes, eggs! It laid eggs in a secluded area and just left them there. Those who found the eggs were shocked to find human body parts inside after cracking them open. The magkukutud has a ghoulish habit. After finding a fresh corpse, it took the body to its home and cooked it. The creature’s name was derived from the Kapampangan word “kutod” which means “to cut”.
In the province of Aklan in Panay Island, Western Visayas the Tanggae looks similar to the manananggal but it has the ability to disguise its discarded lower half as an anthill to avoid getting caught off-guard while its other half was away hunting.
Not all winged self-segmenters possess leathery, bat-like wings and not all look hideous. One account relates that a female cow-herder was attacked by a winged creature with the head of a doll-faced young woman with hair the color of straw. Its wings were avian and created gusts of wind as they flapped in the air. The said creature could be related to the Boroka which is known for its beauty and bird-like wings. There are also first-hand accounts of encounters with self-segmenters akin to manananggals that fly without wings, known as Anananggal in some parts of Visayas.

2. The non-self-segmenters

Those belonging to this subgroup never discard any of their body parts when looking for prey. They could easily sense if a person is terminally ill by just sniffing the air. When in their human form, most are usually disguised as vegetable, fish, or meat vendors or peddlers of other goods, plying their trade in different communities while on the lookout for pregnant women to victimize. That is why in the olden days and even up to now, especially in the rural areas, peddlers who are total strangers in a village are held under suspicion by the locals because they might be up-to-no-good aswangs. They know if an expectant mother is ripe for picking by the scent of the fetus inside the womb, which to them emits a very sweet smell. The smell is so irresistible that some of them couldn’t help but make a remark about the pregnancy or glance frequently at the bloated belly of the victim. It is said this smell is akin to that of ripe jack fruit locally known as langka. When they find a target victim, they remember the location of the house for a late night visit. Before flying off to the victim’s house a non-self-segmenter would anoint its whole body with specially-made oil or ointment and bend over while muttering an incantation or, if it is a moonlit night, chant to the moon with raised arms until the skin turns as black as pitch and as slippery as an eel. Their teeth grow longer, their fingernails turn into claws, and most grow leathery wings like those of bats. Some like the Ekek or Ek-Ek are said to grow beaks lined with sharp teeth. Their toes turn into sharp grasping talons while their arms extend into powerful bird-like wings. During flight the ekek make a shrill sound from which their name is derived. Most don’t attack the victim outright on the first few nights but only observe and savor the smell of the fetus. When they finally attack they usually land on the roof directly above the sleeping victim or cling outside the window should the victim be located in a room in the first floor. This is how the Visayan Wak-Wak attacks pregnant women. The wak-wak is often confused with the manananggal but it is different from the latter. This creature looks very human but could grow bat wings with its arms and never leaves its lower half behind. In some circumstances a wak-wak chooses to walk or run than fly, especially when a victim’s house is considerably near its residence. Those who claim to have come face to face with a wak-wak said the creature sometimes walked backward on all fours with its body bent and the head tucked between the thighs. When not hunting for pregnant women, it ambushes lone travelers at night, straddling their backs with its legs wrapped tightly round the victims’ waist while attempting to strangle them. It makes a successive sound similar to its name during the entire ordeal or when it is on its way to a victim’s location. To deceive or confuse the victim of its presence, it makes a loud sound when far away and softens it into a faint shriek as if it had left when in fact it’s already near the victim. The wak-wak and the ekek penetrate a victim’s womb using their thread-like proboscis. Like the two creatures, the Tiktik, an aswang from the Visayas region with large, leathery but avian-looking wings also feeds in similar manner but it does this inside the victim’s house. The tiktik sneaks into the sleeping victim’s house, crawls on the walls, and upon finding the victim, suspends itself inverted on top of her like a bat and extends its long tongue to pierce the womb. A tiktik also looks more human in terms of facial traits and body shape but generally hideous.
Another hideous-looking fetus-eater is the ghoulish Balbal of Tagbanua folklore. It is described as having long, curved nails, large ears, big bloodshot eyes, and emits a putrid stench from the corpses it devoured. One could tell its presence by its smell alone. When not searching for a corpse, a balbal glides in the night sky like a flying squirrel and clings outside the window of an intended victim. It would then use its tubular tongue to extract the delicious unborn child.
In Cuyo, Palawan the people feared the Mangalok, a flyer described as having the pretty face of a woman. During the day the creature sleeps on the tallest branches, its hair covering its face. After sunset the mangalok awakens and flies off in search of people to prey on. Young individuals and pregnant women are its preferred victims. Upon finding a sleeping pregnant woman, it will enter the house unseen, for it can render itself invisible, and feed on the yet to be born child in the womb using its long hollow tongue through the mother’s navel.
There are other unnamed fetus-sucking non-self-segmenters mentioned in many accounts. They are generally described as persons with coal-black skin and prowl outside the house or perch on the roof of a victim’s house. When caught in the act, they jump in the air and fly off without wings.

Balbal Medium Jpg

A Balbal feeding.

The walkers

No, not those hoard of walking reanimated corpses in The Walking Dead series. The walkers here refer to a group sub-group of fetus-eaters that are unable to fly and belong to the Aswang na Lakad (walking aswang) group. Most appear as normal humans and live very normal lives often mingling with the human populace, making it difficult to tell if they really are aswangs. In the olden days persons with hunched or forward slumping postures were suspected as aswang na lakad because of this kind of aswangs’ habit of prowling under the elevated houses especially in rural areas. But with advances in science, this supposed identifier became unreliable, for people with such conditions were not really creatures of the night but were persons who had bone deficiencies.
Unlike their lupad cousins, not all walkers have proboscis-like tongues. Some have even transcended the need for physical contact in feeding on their victims. One example is the method employed by the ordinary-looking Kantanod. When it catches the scent of a pregnant woman, it follows the victim to her home where it will either sit hidden outside the house or sneak inside and hide in the shadows, sniffing the scent of the yet to be born baby. When it leaves, the baby would also be gone inside the womb, which results to bleeding. It is speculated that the kantanod is actually not physically present in the vicinity and it is in fact its astral body that spirits away the child. Similar to the ghoulish Berbalang of Cagayan Sulu, the kantanod sends out its astral body to the house of the victim after marking her out.
A similar non-physical method is utilized by the psychic vampire Aswang na Gala (wandering aswang) of the Tagalogs. Although it generally preys on severely ill, weary, stressed, or dying persons, it also feeds on the life force of unborn children, which results to still births or miscarriages. Other unnamed walkers who use little to no physical contact with victims have been mentioned in various stories. They would just pass by a pregnant woman, a part of their bodies just grazing the victim’s bloated belly and voila! Goodbye baby.
The Tiyu-an, on the other hand, has retained the use of proboscis. Found in the old folklore in Capiz province, it appears as an ordinary woman. At night it jumps on the roof of a victim, prowls under the elevated floor in the form of a black pig, or enters the house unnoticed. It will then extend its tongue into a very long and thin proboscis and pierce the mother’s belly and suck the blood of the fetus inside. In some cases it will lick and sniff a severely ill person, sucking the life force until the victim dies. The tiyu-an is only female and owns a puppy that never grows old. This puppy is actually the master from whom she got her powers and with whom she shares a part of her quarry. The ageless mutt is passed down from one generation to another like a family heirloom. When the puppy licks the tiyu-an, it means it’s time for her to hunt.
Similar to the tiyu-an’s method is that used by the Mansusopsop. It perches on the roof of an expectant woman’s house and finds a way to introduce its very long tongue inside to feed on the victim. Unlike its other walker counterparts, the mansusopsop looks monstrous with thick eyebrows, big almost bulging eyes, a slender and bony body, and abnormally long arms and legs.

Kantanod Medium

A Kantanod on the prowl.

The non-aswang

There are some non-aswang creatures in Philippine folklore that display fetus-eating habits. One such example is the Matruculan from Luzon. This monster will rip a pregnant woman’s belly open so it could eat the unborn child within the womb. It is also said that sometimes it would impregnate a virgin just to devour its own spawn later when the victim is about to give birth.



Andres, T.D. Dictionary of Filipino Culture and Values.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Creatures of Midnight.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore.
Wilson, Collin. Occult.

The Aswang in Western Visayas

An aswang, according to Philippine folklore is a creature of the night that has a taste for human flesh and blood, has the ability to transform into certain animals, and has other supernatural abilities such as witchcraft. The origin of the word aswang is still being disputed up to this day. The arrival of Catholicism turned the aswang into a demon and made it vulnerable to crosses, holy water, and other objects and symbols of Catholic faith. In his book, The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore, Dr. Maximo D. Ramos identified the aswang into five categories: the blood-sucking vampire such as the Mandurugo, the viscera-sucker or self-segmenter like the Manananggal, the weredog that shape-shifts into a dog or a boar, the vindictive or evil-eye witch that could kill anyone using hexes, and the ghoul that steals and eats corpses.
Belief in the aswang is widespread in the Philippines and dates back before the Spanish conquered the archipelago. Spanish missionaries and authorities mentioned the persistence of such belief in their memoirs and letters.


A Bagat giving someone a real shocker.

In Western Visayas, the belief in the aswang persists despite the advances in science and modernization. Even in its cities, some folks still continue to fear this creature of the night. Once in a while you will hear or see in the local news of an alleged aswang attack or sighting. In the past, newcomers from Iloilo and its neighboring provinces were held under suspicion by Manila locals, fearing they might sprout wings and fly off with dangling entrails at night. This was due to stories about certain individuals in the region believed to have been aswangs, which became popular nationwide – some becoming urban legends later.
There is the story of the infamous Teniente Gimo of Dueñas. The most popular version, from which an episode of the 1990 Philippine horror classic film Shake Rattle & Roll 2 was loosely based, tells of a female student who got invited to a village feast by her friend, Teniente Gimo’s daughter. As the story goes, the night before the feast the student overheard that the family intended to butcher and eat her. Fearing for her life, she switched bracelets with the Teniente’s daughter who was fast asleep and disguised herself. This way she was able to flee the village. In the end, the Teniente killed his own daughter, mistaking her for the intended victim. The student reported to the authorities who arrested the Teniente and his family. The culprits were paraded around the town and were tagged as aswangs.
Another alleged aswang, whose story became an urban legend, is Maria Labo from Iloilo (although there are those who contend the story originated in Capiz, in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, or in Sorsogon). As the story goes, Maria worked as a caregiver in Canada. There, it is assumed, she was turned into an aswang after inheriting it from her employer. When she returned to the Philippines tragedy befell her family. Maria butchered, cooked and ate her two children, and later fed them to her clueless husband. When the husband found out later, he hacked Maria with a machete, leaving a gaping wound in her face, hence the name Maria Labo. Labo in local dialect means “to hack”. But Maria survived and escaped and up to now continues to terrorize those who believe in the aswang. Her story was produced into a full feature film directed by veteran actor Roi Vinzon and was shown in theaters last November 2015.
In the province of Capiz, numerous tales on aswangs have proliferated for as long as anyone could remember. It is said that aswang communities actually exist in some parts of the province. Capiz became synonymous with the aswang. The province was even tagged as the “aswang capital of the Philippines”.
It is still questionable, however, if such creatures did and still thrive in Capiz. The ancient folk of Aklan, on the other hand, classified the aswang into four types: The flying Aswang Lupad, the flightless Aswang Malakat, The Aswang Gabunan who eats humans only once a year, and the self-segmenting Aswang Hubot. Is the aswang real or just a remnant of an ignorant past? Only the truth knows.
Below are a few identified aswang variants based on stories and accounts all over Western Visayas.



Andres, T.D. Dictionary of Filipino Culture and Values.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Creatures of Midnight.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore.