Amaranhig encounters  

Posted by Laya in

This is a post that resulted from watching Rated K last weekend, lol. Korina Sanchez featured a family who had a family member that refused to stay dead and buried-- a literal "dead man walking." The man died-- but the corpse kept disappearing from the coffin during the wake. The family members swore the corpse kept getting up from the coffin and walking around, even when he was already rotting. They also said that some of their family members were that way... another one of their male relatives kept digging his way out of his grave. And that this was not a case of someone being mistaken for dead-- but a family curse... their relatives were the Filipino version of zombies, or amaranhig. If you haven't come across that term yet, it's because, I think, it's mainly an Ilonggo belief. There's this colloquial expression "you're like an amaranhig (or amamanhig)," which isn't really a reference to the "dead man walking" but to the belief that you can tell these walking zombies from regular, living people (if the stench didn't provide a clue) by the fact that they will parrot everything you say. There's even a family story/ folk tale about an ancestor's encounter with an amaranhig and how he got away.

Anyway, to get back to Rated K, we were sitting down to dinner while watching TV, and when that segment about the amaranhig came on, my parents began to laugh, and when we began to give them strange looks, they recounted their own experience-- during my older brother's funeral.

It was 1977, in the town where my mom grew up. My parents and my mom's relatives were on their way to the town cemetery to bury my stillborn older brother. They were following another funeral procession on the road-- a procession that kept stopping from time to time. My dad said they were actually supposed to go first on the road, but someone at the church had asked them to make way for the other funeral party who were "in a bit of a hurry." Why? Because, dad said, the coffin kept moving (nagtirimpugal) and what was inside kept banging against the coffin walls. It was the strangest funeral procession they'd ever seen, he said. Almost all of the mourners were men. The coffin had been placed on a cart (instead of in a hearse, as was usual)-- not just loaded on the cart, but lashed to it. And the coffin was also chained shut. The carabao pulling the cart, and the man leading the carabao, were also kind of spooked and kept glancing back nervously at the coffin. Each time the coffin moved or made a sound, the cart stopped, and someone sprinkled the coffin with holy water, and the coffin would stop moving. Dad said that when they buried the coffin, they didn't even bother taking it off the cart-- they just unhitched the carabao and lowered the cart itself into the grave. Maybe they didn't dare risk opening the coffin, he said. One of my mom's uncles went over to see for himself, and came back with the information that the other funeral was for an amaranhig-- who had been dead a week and was beginning to smell, and the family had gotten fed up with the dead man walking around, so they buried it with extra precautions.

According to our folk beliefs, being an amaranhig is a family curse, like the aswang. And also like the aswang, the afflicted person can die and rest in peace only if another person in the family agrees to take on the burden. Maybe, Dad said, no one in that family agreed to have the curse passed to him, so they just wanted to bury the curse with the amaranhig itself.

This entry was posted at Tuesday, March 13, 2012 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 people cared

I just learned that term Amaranhig. If not with your post, I wouldn't know such stories of the past which could be possible nowadays. Thanks for the share. =)

April 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Good day!

This is Gemmalyn Masanga from I Juander, GMA News TV. We are currently doing a story about Amaranhig for our upcoming episode on I Juander. We have read your article about amaranhig and we are thinking if your parents can grant us with an interview about their personal experience on amaranhig.

If you have questions or clarifications you can reach me through my mobile at 09062798887.

We are hoping for your immediate and positive response on our request. Thank you very much.

Gemmalyn C. Masanga
Program Researcher
I Juander

April 19, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Good day! Gemma po ito ng GMA NewsTV. May story po kasi kami tungkol sa mga Amaranhig, baka lang po interesado 'yung mom mo na mainterview about sa personal experience n'ya naikwento mo sa blog. Kung sakali man pong pumayag s'ya o kung may tanong man po kayo, maaari n'yo po akong tawagan o itext sa numerong ito: 0906-279-8887.


Gemmalyn Masanga

April 24, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Nice blog. Please visit my blog, Thanks !

June 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM

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