Philippines is rich in fun and hair-raising myths and folklore. Be it an epic legend of fruits, flowers, and people or haunting tales involving different Philippine Mythical Creatures. Monster and creature movies are limited though but when their stories are told on screen you’ll feel as though someone or maybe something’s watching you sleep.
But not all Philippine Mythical Creatures have solid stories and deadly capabilities. Some are just there to make fun of you and make you learn an important lesson in the end (like Tikbalang’s and Dwende’s). There are a few filipino monster stories though that I think deserves to grace the big screen.
Tiyanak (see photo above) – are said to be babies who died without being baptized but when abortion became an issue in the Philippines. Story evolved to scare believers that babies who were aborted will come back as Tiyanak to seek revenge.
One of the scariest Filipino horror film I have watched was “Tiyanak“. The Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes film starring Janice De Belen takes on new meaning of motherly love when childless Julie (Janice de Belen) decides to keep an abandoned newborn found by her sister (Lotlot De Leon). But after nightmares involving the infant begin to plague Julie and her disapproving mother meets an untimely demise, Julie starts to suspect that the bambino may be a demon in disguise.
Even though the first Tiyanak film was well-made and had a decent story, I think a remake of the said movie is just timely. You know, with all the abortion issues circulating and the annual Halloween. :p
Mananangal – a type of aswang that feeds on people but more often feeds on babies and fetuses from a mother’s womb. It’s known for having its body divided into two and its long sharp-pointed tongue which it uses to suck babies out of the womb.
The first ever Mananangal movie was well received by critics. And it wasn’t even a stand-alone film but an episode in the first Shake Rattle and Roll movie. That time, it was already a challenge to put up decent make up, prosthetics and props in order to have a believable horror film. But Peque Gallaga nailed it by giving the best “hunter and prey” chase in Philippine cinema. That episode entitled “Mananangal” was one of the most popular and suspenseful episodes of the entire series. Herbert Bautista’s role won him the Best Actor award at the 1984 Metro Manila Film Festival.
I also remember another Shake Rattle and Roll episode about a Mananangal in the city, the episode starred Gina Alajar, Ai Ai delas Alas and Aiko Melendez entitled “Madre”. I cannot forget the “imburnal” and the “under the cart” scenes which scared the shit out of me as a kid.
But after so many years, why not do a new version of Mananangal? I wouldn’t go for a remake though but an original and modern take on Mananangal.
There are other types of Aswang out there but a Mananangal is one of the most horrifying!
Bangungot – I’ve only heard of this creature once in a TV documentary, perhaps a local Halloween special some time ago. And I find it very scary given that it kills people while at sleep. It’s also scary because “Bangungot” or sleep paralysis, sudden death syndrome, some times medically associated with acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis is predominant among young Filipino men.
Bangungot reportedly affects 43 per 100,000 per year among young Filipinos. Most of the victims are young males. Imagine a huge, old, fat woman sitting on top of you and sucking your soul out of your body. That’s how scary it is!
I actually wrote a story about Bangungot and my cousins found it really scary that we waited for daylight to sleep.
Bakunawa – Here’s something that has never been adapted in the screen before. This actually has a large potential of becoming one great Filipino monster movie. While writing this I have already conceptualize an idea about this ferocious beast lurking in the water. A Bakunawa is characterized as gigantic sea serpent but my idea however opposes to the thought that it lives in a salty water. He is believed to be the god of the underworld and is often considered to be the cause of eclipses. It appears as a giant sea serpent with a mouth the size of a lake, a red tongue, whiskers, gills, small wires at its sides, and two sets of wings, one is large and ash-gray while the other is small and is found further down its body.
Now for my “Movie Idea”:
A group of scientist and researchers went to Taal Lake to investigate on the sudden fish kill that has become a national crisis. Later on, series of paranoia-inducing earthquakes, ash explosions and steam-venting activities occurred around Taal Volcano which made the authorities declare a “State of Calamity” on the place. This resulted to private explorations around Taal which caught the interest of the public. And so there was a non-stop live coverage by the media. Alongside the catastrophic events and investigations are subsequent incidents of missing people. Later on the research eventually lead to the discovery of an underground tunnel which turns out to be the lair of the legendary Bakunawa. The story will then revolve around 5 characters. A village girl who’s looking for her missing brother, an aggressive, ambitious news reporter and her camera man/friendzoned lover, the Governor and a young Volcanologist who discovered one deadly secret.
Later on some of these characters will get trapped inside the monsters lair together with some survivors who were held captive, (although yet or supposed to be eaten by the Bakunawa). And while the country’s armed forces hunts down the ferocious beast, the group struggles to survive from the wrath of the legendary man-eating monster and the dangers of subterranean volcanic activities.
You may want Vilma Santos to star in this film as herself, spearheading the Hollywood-ish “Batangas” sign on the taal lake which the Bakunawa cannot allow.
Sirena – Sirena is basically a mermaid. I like Chito Rono’s reimagination of the look of mermaids on his film “Spirit Warriors: The Shortcut”. But I remember one of the stories I made way back in High School, the mermaid story that was inspired by the death of my cousin who drowned on what many considered as the “killer river” on their province. My story was a fresh take on mermaids, I believe! They don’t just drown people, they feed on them. What’s unique about these mermaids is that they only feed on the tongue, epiglottis, vocal cords down to the epiglotis and finally larynx.The story was also inspired by the photo above which I first seen in an issue of Phil. Ghost Stories.
So that’s it for now! Till next list. 😀