The Manananggal Demon, A Filipino Superstition

This morning I saw something bizarre going on up the street.  The men of a family were holding machetes and were busy chopping the branches off trees in their yard and shaving them down.

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My father-in-law was outside and when I asked him what was going on, he said that they thought they saw a manananggal last night.  He then told me that the manananggal is a demon that comes in the form of a good looking woman with wings.  When it flies, the torso separates from the legs at the abdomen, so basically it’s like a half of a woman flying around bare-chested.

Like western vampires, the manananggal avoids light and garlic.  Additionally, they don’t much care for salt, daggers, vinegar, spices, or the tail of a stingray which has been fashioned into a whip.  Also like vampires, the manananggal likes blood, but prefers to use a proboscis tongue to suck the heart of a fetus still in the womb.  Not quite as watered down as Edward Cullen is it?

A drawing of the mythological creature known as a manananggal. It is heavily censored because apparently drawn boobs on a mythological creature that is half of a person is sexual and shocking and violates Google Adsense polices. Sorry!

A drawing of the mythological creature known as a manananggal. It is heavily censored because apparently drawn boobs on a mythological creature that is half of a person is sexual and shocking and violates Google Adsense polices. Sorry!

A drawing of the mythological creature known as a manananggal. It is heavily censored because apparently drawn boobs on a mythological creature that is half of a person is sexual and shocking and violates Google Adsense polices. Sorry!

A drawing of the mythological creature known as a manananggal. It is heavily censored because apparently drawn boobs on a mythological creature that is half of a person is sexual and shocking and violates Google Adsense polices. Sorry!

I’m not sure where cutting trees down comes in, but perhaps they wanted to reduce the amount of places that the manananggal could hide, so they could better see it coming.  Either way, it’s an interesting superstition with a lot of parallels to Western superstitions.  It’s just odd to see people so actively taking measures against it.  Most superstitions in the West are only believed by children.

Update: February 25, 2019
A screenshot of Google's policy enforcement violation list for this page.

A screenshot of Google’s policy enforcement violation list for this page.

Who knew a drawn image of a mythological creature could be a violation of Google’s Adsense policies? I wonder if the same restriction is applied to images of Sirens or Medusa?

But what’s really odd about the violation is that it suggests that someone would be sexually aroused by the upper torso of a woman with bat wings, or that the manananggal is intended to be sexually seductive when, in fact, it’s meant to be horrific and terrifying. Maybe some people are into that sort of thing, but intent has to count for more than one person’s perception or we’d never be able to say or do anything about anything.

That being said, the images were kind of shocking, which is a violation of Google’s Adsense policy apparently. But, again, it’s a mythological creature that’s supposed to be scary. How can a topic of this sort not be ok? I don’t get it. We’re not allowed to have scary stuff next to Google Ads? It’s not gore porn or gory images just for the sake of showing gory images. It’s history and it’s folklore and it has a purpose and should be talked about and depicted and remembered.

But, what are you going to do? One person has a problem and reports your page so you have to make changes. So, the images are censored heavily now. Hopefully, the censorship is heavy enough to be ok with Google’s review team.

6 comments

  1. Maja · August 4, 2010

    Philippine “aswang” (manananggal and the likes, we have a lot actually) superstitions reach the level of all time high during Halloween, for obvious reasons and Good Friday, because it is believed that Christ is dead so it's a free for all evil spree. In fact, a lot of the classic horror movies are set during Good Friday.

    Btw, nice blog. It's interesting to see the Philippines from a foreigner's point of view.

  2. Maja · August 4, 2010

    Philippine “aswang” (manananggal and the likes, we have a lot actually) superstitions reach the level of all time high during Halloween, for obvious reasons and Good Friday, because it is believed that Christ is dead so it's a free for all evil spree. In fact, a lot of the classic horror movies are set during Good Friday.

    Btw, nice blog. It's interesting to see the Philippines from a foreigner's point of view.

  3. Brad F. · August 3, 2010

    That's pretty wild! Thanks for sharing that story. ^_^

    In the US some people are still wary about breaking mirrors or walking under ladders, but no one really believes in superstitions on this level anymore. I suppose it would be like people still believing in vampires or the boogeyman.

  4. Brad F. · August 3, 2010

    That's pretty wild! Thanks for sharing that story. ^_^

    In the US some people are still wary about breaking mirrors or walking under ladders, but no one really believes in superstitions on this level anymore. I suppose it would be like people still believing in vampires or the boogeyman.

  5. Maja · August 3, 2010

    We do take our superstitions seriously, I remember one time when there was this manananggal scare in the 90's, my aunt made me clean the wound of my dog, bandage it up properly and wash the area where the poor thing wounded himself because she's scared that the manananggal might smell the scent of blood and come after us. LOL!

  6. Mariaant · July 12, 2010

    this may sound unbelievable but i saw a mananaggal when i was a young girl.
    the house had a huge window very high up and back then there were alot of “brown-outs” basically electric outage and it was raining hard. i was playing with cousins and looked up and saw this figure sitting there staring down at us….scary! i am now a grown woman but still remember that night as if it was yesterday. people don't want to believe the unexplainable but mananaggals are for real!! no i am not nuts, crazy, etc. I am an educated female who clearly saw one as a young girl.

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