Tag Archives: Philippines

The Manananggal

Tags: Myth, Mythical Creature, Philippines, Pregnant Woman, Cautionary Tale


In the Philippines there’s this myth about the Manananggal. She’s this old ratchet girl that lives in a province and she’s addicted to pregnant women. Basically what happens is at night, when you least expect it and you’re pregnant, she can smell you and you’ll find her on your ceiling when you go to bed. Then she’ll pull out this long thing that she sticks in your mouth and eats up the baby inside of you.

Informant Info

Race/Ethnicity: Filipino

Age: 21

Occupation: College Student

Residence: California, USA

Date of Performance: March 2024

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Tagalog

Relationship: Friend


KM, the informant, is of Filipino descent.


This myth is popular in Filipino culture, serving as a warning to women, especially pregnant women, to not walk alone at night. Filipino elders are notorious for using fear as a tool to incentivize the youth and vulnerable to be safe and good.

Always eat noodles on your birthday

Context: My informant is a family

My informant states that a Filipino superstition that she knows of is that “you should always eat noodles on your birthday”. Though, she acknowledges that this superstition may not just apply to Filipinos because other Asian countries prominently have noodles as a part of their culture, just like white rice. And in this case, Filipinos eat Pancit.

She says the reason for this is that noodles symbolize having a long life. And her experience with this tradition, and also superstition is that she has always had noodles for her birthday and has always seen noodles (or specifically pancit) in the dishes among many others at family’s birthdays and get togethers.

She interprets this as carrying on noodles as a part of being Filipino, and also because of the length of the noodles.


This Filipino tradition is also a superstition.

Analyzing this piece of folklore, it seems to stem from other Asian cultures. Noodles are a part of many Asian cultures, and I believe that it emphasizes on the idea of “pan-asianism”. Though it does seem to be very harmonizing and it does not mean it is all the same for all Asian cultures. Because the Philippines has their own staple of noodles, which is pancit.

Furthermore, my informant does not seem to state any worry about this superstition. Pancit/noodles are just that important to Filipinos because it is an important part of a celebration meal and a favorite common (but not basic) food. Food can carry heavy symbolic messages for people. In this case, noodles may represent longevity but also embracing and loving a staple food that most people enjoy in all sorts of contexts (not just parties).


Context: My informant is a direct family member

My informant says that Tinikling is “like a dance in the Philippines, you do with bamboo sticks”. She describes it as a traditional dance where two people are supposed to hold very long bamboo sticks on the opposite ends and there are two dancers coordinating together in the middle. It can be a very difficult dance, and it is a lot like a game. But it is still a performance.

My informant recalls that a lot of Filipinos kids (mostly girls) might learn this in school, or even outside of school because of the game aspect. And she notes that this tradition along with many Filipino traditions may stem from Spanish culture due to colonization.

It can be difficult to do it correctly, and you could easily trip if you and your partner make a mistake. But a lot of Filipinos have fun with this traditional dance.

She does remember this dance from her early years in school where it is thought so that it can be performed in a yearly school performance or presentation. She also interprets this dance as a fun part of Filipino culture. Because it is not strict to just performance but because it can be done by anyone even without it being something that has to be presented in a certain way.


Tinikling is certainly a folk tradition and folk dance. The dance is also performed at festivals.

Tinikling seems to be a part of Filipino culture for a very long time. And although it is a part of the history of colonization that the Philippines has endured, the tradition has seemed to be fully embraced and seen as something endearing and fun. It has been removed from the possible pain that the colonization has caused. Because the dance is flexible in its form, it can be done “formally” and traditionally through performances and yearly performances done at schools but it is also done at the homes in the Philippines or even right by the streets.

As my informant mentions, this dance is taught at many Filipino schools, it is well-known by many. The folk dance seems to be carried by pride, fun and even nostalgia. If this dance was not taught to someone in the Philippines, someone who does know could gladly teach it.

Tinikling (Filipino Folk Dance)

Tinikling is a Filipino folk dance. Originating during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, farmers would use bamboo traps to keep animals away from their crops.  However, the Philippine tikling bird was able to bypass the traps and reach the crops, which is what Tinikling is said to be named after. This dance itself mimics the movements of the tikling bird and was also created to deter birds from the land. There is also another legend associated with tinikling. When the Spaniards had colonized the Philippines, the native Filipinos were forced to work on plantations. As the story goes, those who didn’t comply with the orders from the Spanish leaders had to stand between two bamboo poles while they were clapped together and thus injured their feet. So, the Filipino people would jump to avoid this pain, and this form of punishment turned into a traditional folk dance in the Philippines. 

My informant for this story is my dad (VG), who said he remembers hearing the story and seeing Tinikling performed for the first time when he was a kid.  The Filipino dance of Tinikling involves two long bamboo rods, at least six feet in length.  Two people play the role of clappers while the dancers stand between the bamboo poles.  The apparel of the dancers is often traditional Filipino clothing, for example, a Barong Tagalog for men.  The dancers will step and jump while the clappers continuously clap the bamboo poles together according to the rhythm.  My dad’s mom told him something about birds dancing or flying from branch to branch, and someone else had told him that birds were hopping to avoid bird traps.

I’m curious about the possible origins.  While both could be just as likely, it makes me wonder if they were both true but different sides of the same story, one more appropriate for younger audiences.  Or perhaps one or neither is perfectly accurate, and stories and embellishments were developed to accompany the dance.  Either way, Tinikling is an extremely impressive folk dance that requires lots of skill while also bringing Filipino communities together.

The Legend of the Pineapple Fruit

“The legend revolves around Pina, a spoiled girl who refused to cook for her sick mother, causing her mother to become enraged and curse her. Pina later vanished, and her mother discovered a strange yellow fruit with a thousand black eyes that reminded her of her curse. In order to honor her daughter’s memory, she decided to plant the seeds of the fruit and share the harvest with others. The fruit became known as pinya, after Pina, and has since become a symbol of generosity.”

My informant learned about this legend in his Filipino class from his professor. He said that the lesson of the legend is to warn children not to be lazy. My informant also told me that the professor told the legend as a way to see into Filipino culture before the Spanish had colonized the land.

I think that the legend serves as a decent warning for children. No child wants to turn into a piece of fruit. It is interesting that the fruit is a pineapple in this story. There is a trope of when children are turned into an object, and in this case it is a pineapple. This is probably due to it being a staple of fruit in the Philippines.