Manlalayog, sometimes spelled as ‘manlalayug’, are women who are covered with hair from head to toe. Their hair grows longer and more wire-like at night. She kills people with her hair, this is done by forcing her hair in all orifices of her victim’s body. Locals from Cagayan de Oro and American soldiers, in order to smoke out Japanese soldiers from mountain hidings, would spread tales of these creatures to scare the Japanese soldiers out (This creature is similar to the spirit women of Japanese myth).
Manlalayog Illustration by Maku Felix
FB: Maku Felix
Watercolor by Yanna Gemora
Malagkit ang ere sa amoy na bala at pawis. Hindi alam ng sundalo kung bakit hindi niya maabot ang kanyang kumander, o ang kanyang mga kapwa sundalo, pero alam niyang kailangan niyang maging matatag sa mukha ng panganib. Hindi niya isasantabi na lang ang kanyang misyon sa emperador na sakupin ang mga isla na ito.
Masangsang dahil sa amoy ng dumi ang kwebang pinagtataguan niya pero wala naman siyang magagawa ukol dun. Dumating ang mga Amerikano at tinigil ang lahat ng daloy ng mga padalang pagkain o armas, hindi niya alam kung ano ang kinahinatnan ng kanyang mga kasamahan, maaaring pinaslang na sila, o mas malala, nahuli.
Gabi gabi nararamdaman niya ang nakakakilabot na pakiramdam na may nanonood sa kanya. Naglagay siya ng mga patibong para sa pagkain, at sinisigurado niyang tinitignan niya ang mga ito araw araw. Hindi niya alam kung ano ang nagmamasid at nagtatago sa kabundukan, ngunit siya ay sundalo at haharapin niya ito nang may tapang sa puso.
Nangulila siya sa dalampasigan na kaniyang tinirahan nang kanyang pagkabata, nangulila siya sa pagkakaroon ng pagkain na hindi kinakailangang mangaso pa, ngunit higit sa lahat nangulila siya sa ligtas na piling ng kaniyang tahanan noon.
Ang mga tao sa kabundukan ay may mga alamat na nagpapaalala sa kanya ng kanyang kabataan, mga alamat ukol sa kaluluwa ng mga babaeng mahahaba ang buhok. May maliit na banda sa kanyang sarili na hindi naniniwala sa pipitsuging mga pamahiin, pero may banda rin na bumubulong sa kanyang isipan. Puno ang gabi ng mga sundalo ng paghihintay sa pagkuha sa kanya ng babaeng may mahabang buhok.
Puna niya na sa ibayong iyon ang espirito ay tinatawag na Manlalayog, pero hindi niya mapuna ang mga maaring gawin sa kanya nito. Ang mahabang buhok na hihigop sa kanyang sigla at kabataan hangga’t wala nang natira kundi balat.
Mainit ang tanghali nang makakita ang sundalo ng kumpol ng buhok sa kaniyang kuweba. Hindi niya alam kung saan galing ang mga ito, ngunit alam niya na hindi ito sa kanya.
Napuno siya ng kaba, alam niyang may gumagalang patrol ng Amerikano na malapit, at maaari niyang ipaubaya ang sarili niya sa awa ng mga ito, dahil anong awa ang aasahan mo sa isang multo. Lahat ng katapangan na akala niya’y makakamit niya ay natunaw nang biglaan.
Tumakbo siya, hindi niya inaasahan ang sarili niyang bilis, tinakbuhan niya ang panganib sa kanyang pansamantalang tirahan at papunta sa kamay ng kanyang mga pinakakinasusuklamang mga kaaway.
Lahat ng ito dahil sa kumpol na buhok.
The air was slick with the smell of bullets and sweat. The soldier didn’t know why he could not reach his commander or any of his regiment, but he knew he had to be steadfast in the face of danger. He would not abandon his mission by the emperor to claim these islands.
The cave he was hiding in was fetid with the smell of filth but there was nothing he could do about that. The Americans came in and stopped all line of supply, he did not know what happened to the rest of his comrades, they may have been killed, or worse captured.
Night after night he felt the creeping sense of something that was watching him. He had laid out traps for food, and he always made sure to check them every day. He did not know what lurked in the mountains during the night, but he was a soldier and he would face it with bravery in his heart.
He missed the coast that was his childhood home, he missed having food that he did not have to hunt, but most of all he missed the safety of his old home.
The people of these mountains told tales that reminded him of his boyhood, tales of spirit women with long hair. Part of him did not believe such silly superstition, but another part called out to his soul. The soldier’s nights were filled with waiting for the long haired woman to claim him.
In this land the spirit was called Manlalayog, but whatever the name he knew what she could do to him. The long hair draining his youth until nothing would be left but a husk.
It was a hot afternoon when the soldier found the strands of hair in his cave. He did not know where they came from, but he knew they were not his.
Panic surged though his body, he knew there would be an American patrol nearby, and he could throw himself on their mercy, for what mercy could he expect from a ghost? All the bravery he thought he could possess melted away in that instant.
He ran, faster than he thought he ever could, he ran from the danger of his temporary home and into the arms of his most hated enemies.
All because of a few strands of long hair.
Inspired by a tale told by the grandmother of Ian Quirante
Speculative fiction writer. Philippine folklore and heritage researcher.
Author of The Spirits of the Philippine Archipelago.
Currently in the middle of fixing up an encyclopedia of Philippine Mythical creatures.
Latest posts by Karl Gaverza (see all)
- Litao, The Husband of the Sirena | Philippine Myth & Folklore - April 2, 2018
- Kabalan, Philippine Centaurs? - April 1, 2018
- The Vengeful Mantiyanak from Mindanaoan Folklore - March 31, 2018