Saturday, November 4, 2023

What is a Manananggal?

 My upcoming book with Pinoy Indie Collab stars a Manananggal named Beldine Rosario. I have twisted the Manananggal myth to suit my story but I have taken some things from the source materials.

The Manananggal is a legendary monster with deep roots in Filipino culture, with a long and varied history that has been influenced by many different traditions. The Filipino root of "Manananggal" is "tanggal," which means "to remove" or "to separate." The creature's ability to dissociate its upper and bottom halves inspired its moniker, which describes its nocturnal, villainous antics.

Indigenous beliefs and animism were common in the Philippines before colonization, and this is where the Manananggal had their start. Many different kinds of supernatural entities, some good and others bad, were represented in these early beliefs. These indigenous traditions mixed with Catholicism after the establishment of Spanish colonial control in the 16th century. Like many other animals in Filipino legend, the Manananggal evolved and gained a darker reputation throughout time. The Manananggal has a reputation for being linked with witches, shapeshifters, and practitioners of black magic.

Traditional depictions of the Manananggal have her disguised as a beautiful woman by day and a hideous, winged monster by night. Its alleged diet includes the hearts of unborn children and the blood of living humans. It does this by separating its top body, which grows wings and flies to its prey, from its bottom body, which remains on the ground.

I wasn't going in that direction. In my world, Beldine and her tribe are a race of creatures who are all-women. Male offspring come out as humans. The women live in the jungles of Asia, primarily in the Philippines. They were discriminated against because of the Spanish Era, calling them demons and mosntaers. When the age of medicine came, humans found out that their organs were promising. They were exactly like humans except more resilient to disease and overuse. This led to them being a highly sought commodity and thus the tribe hid themselves further. When they were decimated, Beldine, a survivor, chose to live among humans, hiding in plain sight. 

Read about the complication that came to her life: Moonlight Eclipse

Sources for the manananggal can be seen here:

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