Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Halloween Phone call to Philippines.

Before meeting my wife in 2003, I had traveled to Philippines a couple of times; specifically, to the island of Siquijor. For those of you unfamiliar with the country, Siquijor has a reputation of being an island of shaman ( AKA " quack doctors" ) voodooesque shenanigans and an assortment of things that go bump in the night. Having once had a friend living there, I've spent a fair amount of time on the island.

I've had experiences with a quack doctor which I went into in an earlier post [ A visit with a quack Doctor in Siquijor ] so there's no need to go into that again here.

It was Halloween 2002. It was still early morning here in Georgia. It was, however, early evening in Philippines when I called my friend for a chat. Her teen-aged sister answered the phone; I was fond of the sister and decided to talk to her for a few minutes. I asked what she was doing that evening and she replied that she was putting onions in the window. I wasn't quite sure what to make of that but, knowing her as I did, I suspected it was Halloween related.

"Why are you putting onions on the window?" I asked. She said she wasn't sure of the English word....but it was because of the "dead people who aren't really dead".
Obviously, she could not see me smiling and my voice did not betray me when I said I had heard of putting garlic in the window for protection but never onions. There was a pause. She asked something of someone in the house with her and then told me that the English word for the thing in the window was indeed garlic and not onion.....she had made a mistake in translation.

That was basically, the end of our conversation. I went on to talk to her older sister but I forget now what that particular conversation was about.

Now, five years afterwards, I'm wondering which "dead people who aren't really dead" she was referring to. Two things come to mind.It could be either zombies or vampires. I'm not really up on my Philippine folk lore and I don't know of any Filipino zombies.

The only vampire I know of is called the Manananggal .According to Wikipedia :

"A manananggal is described as being an older, beautiful woman (as opposed to an aswang), capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat-like wings to prey on unsuspecting, pregnant women in their homes; using an elongated proboscis-like tongue, it sucks the hearts of fetuses or blood of an unsuspecting, sleeping victim. The severed lower torso is left standing and it is said to be the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt or smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin and will die at daybreak. The name of the creature originates from an expression used for a severed torso: Manananggal comes from the Tagalog, tanggal (cognate of Malay and Indonesian tanggal) which means to remove or to separate. Manananggal then means the one who separates itself from its lower body."

Also from the same article:

"Superstitious folk in the Visayan provinces still hang cloves of garlic or onion around windows, doors, etc. with the purpose of repelling this creature as well as the aswang.".......Siquijor is in the Visayas so, it actually could have been onions after all that girl was putting in the windows.

I know some of you may scoff, but, nothing happened to anyone in the household that Halloween. No one was attacked by any sort of vampire or zombie or even werewolf. Whatever it was....garlic or onions.....they seem to have done the trick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a monster that only preys on pregnant women?
married and un-married?
wonder how that started?