Manananggal in Tondo

Manananggal, aswang and kapre are the common Filipino mythical creatures that somehow reached the urban city to plague and terrorize the people. These creatures are the famous subject for an interesting and goosebumping stories that stimulates the imagination of ones' mind. Until now, people still think that they're one of us, and sometimes, they are pointed to cause an inexplicable happening.

For this article, we'll be talking about manananggal. This frightening creature, according to legend, has the power of separating his lower body with his upper part only at night, then rejoin them back before dawn. It is also considered as a vampire because it feeds with human flesh. (For more about it, click here.)

The Story

According to some rumor, this manananggal had been on board a ship en route to Siquijor. But, for some reason, she got stranded in Manila. In some accounts, the ship that she was on got wrecked. Well, that's not the real story how the monster got in the city.

[Taken from the Internet:[a]]

It was the presidential election month (May) in 1992, when people of Tondo, Manila was terrorized by a monster. They reported seeing a female manananggal roaming at night, hunting for a victim. This news, which was published in a tabloid, almost replaced the news updates about the election day. Filipinos, that time, are interested in both stories.

The story started to spread after a news paper (Daily News) published an article with an interview with a local woman of Tondo about the monster. Her name is Martina Sta. Rosa.

She told the reporter of the said newspaper, “She attacked me. I was just lucky I was able to get free. I saw half of her body. It was naked. She had long, scraggly hair, long arms, nails and sharp fangs.”

Her neighbor (Mr. Alfonso Bernardo), corroborated the tale stating, “We saw it fly away from her house.”

The woman named Teresita Beronqui was believed to be the said hideous monster. Her home was attacked by angry local people accompanied by a television crews. ABS-CBN reporter interviewed the elderly woman who through a veil of tears pleaded her innocence. The woman even claimed that she herself had been attacked by the monster and tried to prove this by showing the missing toes from one of her feet. However, a said vampire expert, after interrogating her, stated in a national television, the she was lying.

Another vampire expert was called to comment on the Mananaggal attack. According to him, the woman who was accused of being the monster was indeed a vampire, but she transformed back to her normal self after the last attack. However, when she was asked to explain the missing toe of the woman, he affirmly stated that she had failed to shape-shift back completely!

Another interview was conducted to bring out the truth if she really is a vampire or not. The reporter, named Cesar Soriano, produced a dried stingray tail. Well, Filipino knew that stingray tail is an effective weapon to repel monsters, especially if they (those monsters) are touched with it. But when the accused woman touched it, she never felt anything, except of course its roughness. If she really is a vampire, then she should have felt something bad on it.

Fact check:

People panicked over the thought of a manananggal in the city. Sociologists pointed out that the manananggal story is often used to keep people in line. In the Spanish era, it was used to persuade people to be more pious. In the 1950s, according to an essay by Jessica Zafra, some sources pointed out that Americans encouraged the spread of the manananggal story in the countryside by telling people that strangers wandering into their barrios could very well be manananggals. Thus, they had to report the presence of these strangers. In reality, it was said to be a strategy to identify rebels. Thus, the "presence" of a manananggal in Tondo actually made sense, as fear of her would help curb the nightly brawls that were rampant in the neighborhood. Even tough guys prefer staying home than encountering a creature that wants to have them as midnight snack.[b]

Aside of that, because the story rose in the midst of the election month, it might be a way of making people focus on the other much interesting story or be distracted on the political upheaval.[a]