Episode 14: Takot Ako (I’m Scurred)

Welcome to the SherwinM Podcast. A podcast about the adventures of being Filipino American. I am your host Sherwin.

Takot Ako

This is the Halloween episode of the SherwinM Podcast. It may sound weird but the Philippines does not officially celebrate Halloween. Since most Filipinos are Catholic, Halloween is considered a pagan holiday. Rather than pass out candy and dress up, most prepare for a different holiday, one that occurs the following day, November 1st. This is All Saints Day. It’s a day we remember those who have passed away. November 2nd is All Souls’ Day – those who didn’t go on November 1st go the following day. Also, chocolates are very, very, very expensive. So why do an episode on Halloween? To share scurry stories, that’s why.

Generally speaking, we call ghosts, monsters, spirits “multo” or “mumo”. Here are some examples.

  • Mananangal – often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means “to remove” or “to separate”, which literally translates as “remover” or “separator”. In this case, “one who separates itself”. The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso. The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, 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 itself and would perish by sunrise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manananggal
  • White Lady – is a type of female ghost dressed in all white reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend of tragedy.In other instances, it is said that when solitary people drive on that street in the early morning, they briefly see the face of a white-clad woman in the rear-view mirror before she quickly disappears. Some accidents on this road are blamed on apparitions of the White Lady. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lady_(ghost)
  • Kapre – mythical creature that could be characterized as a tree giant. It is described as being a tall (7 to 9 ft), big, black, hairy, muscular creature. The term kapre comes from the Arabic “kafir”, meaning a non-believer in Islam. Some historians speculate that the legend was propagated by the Spanish to prevent Filipinos from assisting any escaped African slaves they sometimes imported from Latin-America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapre


  • The taxi driver who picked up a fare and took her home. Later he founds out who she really was.
  • The white lady I remember growing up in front of the house.
  • My grandfather who got water from the well and crossed the cemetary.
  • The handprint on my shirt after passing the same cemetary.
  • Friend’s story about sleeping on the second floor at wife’s house during a vacation in Philippines.

Tagalog Words

  • multo, aswang, or mumo – ghosts, monsters, spirits
  • takot – scared
  • manananggal – vampire
  • panglawin – easily gets scared, I looked it up but didn’t find anything. It could be a local slang term in different areas.

The show notes of this episode can be found at http://podcast.sherwinm.com.

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