My informant for this piece is a student who has strong connections to her Filipino heritage. She shared with me a legend common in the Philippines that she heard from her Uncle.
“My uncle told me about this legend that we have in the Philippines, since he lives there. There is this creature, the Manananggal, that we tell stories about. The creature looks like a woman by day. However at night her upper half flies off and separates from her body. She goes to pregnant woman’s homes while they sleep, and cuts them open to eat their children. She can be warded off with salt, though.”
This narrative can be best defined as a legend, in my own opinion. As the creature may be disguised as a human, it creates a level of uncertainty in someone who hears the story, that the creature may actually be lurking among us. The mention of a change between day and night forms may also indicate an uncertainty about how people really are between the face they show publicly and privately in my opinion. Salt also has many religious connotations, so the usage of salt to ward this creature away may indicate that it is in actuality an evil entity.
My research has uncovered that this story has its origins in the Philippines, and is a variant of a Vampire legend, or ‘Aswang’ as they are called in Filipino legend.. However it is more widespread in Malaysia then Europe. It is implied that belief in this creature may have influenced behavior in the region, as my research indicated that sleeping patterns changed so that the sleeper would not be vulnerable to these creatures. It is also implied that Philippine houses are constructed in a way to ward of the creature with features including steep roofs, and bamboo staves (which are purported to kill them). Rural Filipinos traditionally hang the corpses of sea creatures such as crabs or lobsters which are purported to ward them away. These behavioral alterations to their daily life may be an indication of the widespread belief in this creature.
Ramos, Maximo. “The Aswang syncrasy in Philippine folklore.” Western Folklore (1969): 238-248.