The tale of the Manananggal

This piece folklore was gathered at the San Fransisco trauma recovery center. I met with a group of social workers and over the course of one hour we all got came together in a meeting room and in one big group we decided to go around the table and each discuss folklore from their lives. At the beginning of the discussion I gave a brief description about what folklore could be. After that everyone shared pieces of folklore from their lives.

“My first story is actually from the Philippines and it’s a tale thats told to children so that at night they don’t go into the forest, they don’t go past where they’re supposed to go in the village and it’s the story of The Manananggal. The Manananggal is a women, she’s a witch but also depending on who’s telling the story she’s also a vampire who is soul sucking and if you go outside she’ll find you and chase you back to your house. The, they take the roofs off of your house, split in half and they eat you. Then they kind of come back together and look like a normal woman and then they go back into the forest and no one knows what happens.”

Background information about the performance from the informant: “It’s a story I learned from my partner and he told me it was something you tell to children in the Philippines to get them not to wander off at night. My partner and I were in remote part of Hawaii in the middle of the night and we could here the bamboo slapping back and forth on the yurt and there was no one around for miles. My partner couldn’t sleep because he was convinced The Manananggal  was gonna come eat us. Which I thought was hilarious? The whole thing is that if you don’t go to sleep the manananggal is gonna come get you and its something my partner is still afraid of in his late 20s.”

This story is similar in its function to La Llorona as both serve as cautionary tales designed to make sure children do what they are told. Both also feature women who can serve as mother figures but transform into monsters. These tales are present in many different cultures all around the world. It seems that using monsters to get kids to behave is a near universal l form of parenting all over the world.