Normal Paranormal | Renzie on The Weird and The Strange

A personal blog of Renzie Baluyut | Cryptids & Cryptozoology | Close Encounters | Extra Terrestrial Activity | Folklore | Forteana | Ghosts & Hauntings | Mysterious Creatures | Mythology | Parapsychology | Paranormal Phenomena | Strange Sightings | The Occult | The Paranormal | The Unexplained | Ufology | Urban Legends | Weird Stuff | Witchcraft | a blog by Renan Salvador Viloria Baluyut

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Phenomenon of The Rat King

In this edition of The Cryptid Files, we deal with the phenomenon known as the Rat King. In medieval Europe, the sighting of a Rat King is an omen that something terrible is about to happen. Read on..

It's a no-brainer, really. Whenever you see a whole bunch of rats tangled up together by the tail- it doesn't take a Nostradamus to divine that something bad might happen. You wanna hear something bad? You probably have TOO MANY RATS!

The Rat King is a cryptozoological phenomena that happens when a number of rats are intertwined at the tails- which are stuck together by a gunk made of blood, filth and excrement. Supposedly, the rats all grow together while joined at the tail- and is seen as an omen of ill fortune, particularly in Germany, where the majority of Rat King sightings and incidents have been reported.

The Mauritianum scientific museum in the town of Altenburg in Thurinia, Germany has a display of the largest well-known rat king (above; picture from Wikipedia). It was said to have been found in a miller's fireplace in 1828, and consists of some 32 rats joined together at the tail.

Theoretically, it is possible to have a rat king- assuming there are thousands of rats living in a tightly cramped space. Some of the young rodents just might find their tails inextricably tied together.

With a population of rats under these living conditions comes the increased chance of outbreak and disease- and so the sighting of a rat king in medieval Europe means a plague is about to hit- so no surprise there.

Rat King Sightings

The earliest reported rat king sighting was in 1564. In modern times, however, these incidents are few and far between- most of which were already exposed as hoaxes.
  • Bogor, Java. A rat king of ten field mice was found in 1918.
  • New Zealand. A rat king discovered in 1930 is displayed in the Otago Museum in Dunedin. It was later found out that the rodents' tails were entangled in a mat of horse hair.
  • In 1963, a rat king was discovered by a farmer in the Netherlands. Further investigation using X-rays show that the rats are joined by their fractured tails tangled together, which according to proponents, show that the creatures survived this way for a rather extended period of time.
  • The most recent sighting of a rat king was in January 2005, discovered by an Estonian farmer in the region of Võrumaa.
Normal Paranormal just brought you another edition of The Cryptid Files: Rediscovering our Strange World one Freak of Nature at a Time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Popobawa: Spiritual Sexual Predator?

In this edition of The Cryptid Files, we deal with a strange spirit of Zanzibar that roams the night, looking for houses to invade, and victims to sodomize! Read on..

The Unfortunate Tale of Mjaka Hamad

A man from Zanzibar tearfully relates his ordeal to the media- Mjaka Hamad, a peasant farmer in his mid-50's, claims he's been brutally sodomized by the infamous Popobawa. This particular attack in 1995 caused widespread panic among the local residents of these islands, just off the coast of Tanzania in Africa.

Was our farmer making it all up? Maybe a nightmare, even? According to Hamad, he knew it was not a dream because when he woke from his sleep, the household was in uproar.

According to's Paranormal Phenomena, this is what Hamad had to relate about his harrowing experience:
I couldn't see it. I could only feel it. But some people in my house could see it. Those who've got the spirits in their heads could see it. Everybody was terrified. They were outside screaming Huyo! It means the Popobawa is there. I had this bad pain in my ribs where it crushed me. I don't believe in spirits so maybe that's why it attacked me. Maybe it will attack anybody who doesn't believe.

Hamad was just one of the victims of the infamous Popobawa. Hospitals in Zanzibar have had dozens of cases attributed to Popobawa-inflicted injuries: mostly broken ribs and bruises. According to X-Project Paranormal Magazine, during times when the Popobawa terrorizes the islands, whole families will often sleep arm-in-arm in front of their houses, seeking safety in numbers.

The Popobawa

The strange creature known as the Popobawa is generally described as a cyclopean dwarf- its one eye centrally located on its large forehead. Reports say the monster also has huge, leathery bat-like wings and ears, sharp claws, and a gigantic penis.

Even stranger is the Popobawa's propensity to anally rape men in their sleep- kind of like a homosexual incubus. The creature attacks its victims as they sleep, overpowering them, forcefully holding their face to the floor and ass-raping them for up to an hour.

And to literally add insult to injury, after it sodomizes its victim, the Popobawa commands the unfortunate male to spread the word of his ordeal, or it would come back for more.

Though often invisible, the creature can be detected by the sound of sharp claws scratching against the victims' rooftops, and an acrid smell or a puff of smoke. In some accounts, such as in the unfortunate case of Mjaka Hamad, the Popobawa is visible to everyone except the terrified victim.

Supposedly, the shapeshifting Popobawa takes human form by day, and blends in among the locals. Only its pointed fingers give a hint to its true identity.

Dealing With the Popobawa

The creature only attacks men, and does so only when its victim is sleeping in his bed. For that reason, many men end up sleeping outside- in streets, on porches- especially after recent waves of Popobawa attacks and sightings.

Those who aren't Muslim have even resorted to smearing pig grease on their skins to keep the demon from latching onto them.

Some have resorted to sacrificing goats, or offering charms by the base of fig trees to help exorcise the Popobawa. Others have even dug around their homes, burying pig bones, to ward off the creature.

What really ticks the monster off is ignoring it: denying the initial experience ever happened supposedly results in repeated, longer and more brutal sodomizations. It seems the hapless victims have no other choice but to tell all their friends and neighbors about the embarrassing incident.

Other Popobawa Facts

The name 'Popobawa' comes from the Swahili words for "bat" and "wing". Some suggest that the original name was 'Pepo Bawa', which means 'winged spirit'.

According to Wikipedia, a popular origin story of Popobawa proposes that in the 1970s an angry sheikh released a djinni to take vengeance on his neighbors. The sheik lost control of the djinni, who took to demonic ways.

Interestingly enough, the Popobawa is a fairly recent cryptid. Reports say that the Popobawa first appeared in 1972, on a neighboring island called Pemba. Waves of sightings and incidents were then reported in the 1980's. And then another wave of attacks came in 1995 (the time of Mjaka Hamad's experience). Then again in 2000-2001, and most recently in Dar Es Salaam in 2007.

Increased Popobawa activity seems to coincide with elections, but its victims would claim that the rise and fall of the electoral cycle has nothing to do with the creature's attacks.

Normal Paranormal just brought you another edition of The Cryptid Files: Rediscovering our Strange World one Freak of Nature at a Time.

Cheers, everyone!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Live Science's 10 Favorite Monsters

Following a story from, I stumbled upon an article on Live Science's 10 Favorite Monsters, which you can check out right here.

Of course, you could read more about them, but to give you all a quick rundown- here they are in descending order:

10. Canada's Ogopogo - does it look like Champ or Nessie?
9. Dragons - interesting how, like ghosts, dragons are mentioned in so many world cultures.
8. The Giant Squid - now that's a LOT of fried calamari!
7. Champ - the monster of Lake Champlain. Read about it on a Readers Digest when I was a kid, I remember.
6. Chupacabra - the goat-sucker of South America.
5. Sirens - they're hot, they sing well, and they'll crush your medieval ships!
4. The Loch Ness Monster of Scotland - plesiosaur, giant snail-like creature, or downright hoax?
3. Werewolves - nasty little beasties!
2. Vampires - these have to be my favorite.
1. Bigfoot. Specifically, the North American sasquatch.

What are your 10 favorite monsters?

The Cryptid Files

Welcome to The Cryptid Files on "Normal Paranormal"!

Even as a child, I had this strange fascination with monsters, strange creatures and mythical beings. There used to be a 'Monsters' section on the old Collier's Encyclopedia which I read over and over again. There's now a term for the study of these creatures, and it's called 'cryptozoology'. It's the zoology of weird things on our planet, and we have a feature right here on this blog.

According to Wikipedia:
In the study of cryptozoology, a cryptid is any animal or creature that has been reported to have existed, but has not been proven to. The literal meaning of the word is "the study of hidden animals". Their presumed existence is often derived from anecdotal evidence and/or other evidence insufficient to prove their existence with scientific certainty.

Cryptids are also uncommonly known by the term Unidentified Mysterious Animals or UMA, an intended variation on the popular term UFO. The English use of the term was coined by John E. Wall in 1983 and has been used ever since to describe the creatures which are the focus of cryptozoology.

The term 'cryptid' may include creatures such as the Yeti, Thunderbird or Loch Ness Monster, or relict animals (once presumed extinct) such as the coelacanth (to the right, from a picture on National Geographic). The term is also used to describe now confirmed animals such as the okapi (the deer-like mammal pictured below), once thought to be a fictional animal until it was discovered in the early 1900s.

Cryptids have existed for many ages, although earlier cryptids such as the griffin or dragon, are by and large considered mythical creatures which have never existed other than in popular fiction. Early cryptids include creatures such as the Kraken, which have now entered into legend as fictitious entities or have since been debunked and attributed to exaggerated sightings of creatures unknown in earlier times. Other cryptids include those which were known to man, but have since been pronounced extinct, as was the case with the moa and thylacine which are both reported to be living today. Despite the large number of reported cryptids, most are never proven and a large portion are debunked through thorough scientific investigation.

Of course, there are a whole lot of cryptids now, when I thought there were only several. Apparently, the list has grown to include a wide variety of creatures, whether from local folklore (like the Chupacabra of South America or the Leeds Devil of New Jersey), urban legend, or even old creatures from the past (like The Congo's Mokele-Mbembe, or The Beast of Busco in Indiana). Check out the entire list- at least one compiled so far- by Wikipedia.

From the Philippines, we have the aswang, manananggal and the tikbalang. I think there should be a kapre on that list as well, though they may have classified that one under 'sasquatch', 'giant' or 'malevolent tree spirit' under the 'Legendary Creatures' category.

In any case, it's always an interesting read, and something I'd like to get back to every so often. Hopefully we find a good story worth sharing to other people online, which is really what The Cryptid Files is all about.

Cheers, everyone.

Cryptid Files: The Aswang

The aswang is probably the Philippines' most pervasive supernatural creature. While most of the stories originate from the Western Visayas region, virtually everyone in the country has heard of them, and maybe has a story or two about them.

The aswang can probably be best described as a flesh-eating ghoul. As a ghoul, is it therefore, one of the undead? Which then follows: if it is undead, was an aswang then, a regular person like you and me? So what makes an aswang what it is? According to Wikipedia:
The trademark or major feature of Aswangs which distinguish them from other Filipino mythological creatures is their propensity to replace stolen cadavers with the trunk of a banana tree carved in the cadaver's likeness. They are also said to like to eat small children. Their favorite body parts are the liver and heart. Other local names, especially in Capiz are tik-tik and wak-wak.
It's interesting to note, however, that the tik-tik and wak-wak might be entirely separate entities, and not necessarily aswangs. But who really knows? Over the years, the term 'aswang' has been used as a catch-all category applied to just about any supernatural creature in Philippine folklore, including witches, mananaggals, shapeshifters/lycanthropes, and other beastly things. Again, from Wikipedia:
An Aswang is often interchanged with manananggal, but they are different. There are also characteristics and features that the Aswang also varies from Filipino to Filipino. They usually live near the mountains and they never go in to cities. But there are some reports of Aswangs in the cities.
The Aswang Myth

Capiz, a province on the island of Panay, seems to be (unfairly portrayed in popular media) as a hotbed for not just Aswang activity, but all manners of Philippine supernatural beasties.

It's still a fairly rural area with strong traditional connections, and there have been rumors of witch covens or clans of aswang hiding among the general populace- just the kind of stuff easily eaten up and perpetuated by media and pop culture.
Superstitious folk who believe in their existence can still be found in these parts. They typically adorn windows, rooms, etc. with garlic bulbs, holy water, and other anti-aswang paraphernalia which supposedly repels these creatures.
The myth of the Aswang is popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Antique. One of the most famous urban legends in the Visayas region is the infamous Aswang Tiniente Gimo (lieutenant Gimo). Aside from entertainment value, mothers are said to tell their children Aswang stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night.

Similar to Count Vlad III Dracula of Transylvania in vampire stories, the most popular characters are the clan of Teñente/ Tenyente/ Tiniente Gimo of the town of Dueñas, Iloilo.
Other common characteristics and activities of the aswang in Philippine folklore, also on Wikipedia:
An aswang is a regular townsperson by day, and prefers an occupation related to meat, such as butchery or making sausages.

Aswangs have an ageless appearance and a quiet, shy and elusive manner. They can be distinguished from humans by two signs: one is the bloodshot eyes from staying up all night looking for opportunities to sneak into houses where funeral wakes are being held, and two, a penchant for stealing dead bodies.

According to the elderly, the Aswang can also transform from human to animal and animal to human. The Aswang can disguise him/herself as a pig, dog or a black bird. Supposedly if a person looks at them in the eyes, the reflection would appear inverted. During their nocturnal activities, they walk with their feet facing backwards and toenails reversed.

One type is the kikik which transforms into a huge bird/bat at night and prowls. The kikik looks for a sleeping pregnant woman. Then it extends a very long proboscis into the womb and kills the fetus by draining its blood. It is said that while this is taking place, a 'kik-kik-kik' sound is often heard.

In some stories, the kikik is an aswang's familiar, said to confuse people by its 'kikik' sound. If the aswang is near, the sound would be faint so that people hearing it would think that the aswang is still far away.

The term wak-wak or wuk-wuk is frequently used for the same creature in the Cebu region. The legends of the wak-wak and kikik are much the same, but the wak-wak is specifically supposed to change into its birdlike form by leaving behind its lower body, much like the Manananggal, another Philippine vampire. The cry of a night bird which makes a "wuk-wuk-wuk" sound is believed to be the call of this monster and is feared by superstitious villagers. As with the call of the kikik, the wak-wak is believed able to make its cry sound distant when the creature is near.

In Panitan(Panit'an) Capiz, there is a myth of the Dangga or Agitot. This type of aswang is typically funny because some say it is a handsome gay man that hunts women during the night and eats fresh blood like a vampire.

Another familiar is the sigbin or Zegben. Some say that this is another form that the aswang transforms into and yet some say it is the companion of the kikik. It appears to be similar to the chupacabra and Tasmanian devil in appearance with the exception of spotty fur. It supposedly has a wide mouth with large fangs.
Dealing With The Aswang
It is said that an Aswang can be revealed, with the use of a bottle of a special oil extracted from the boiled and decanted coconut meat and mixed with certain plant stems upon which special prayers were said.

When an Aswang comes near or walks outside the house at night, the oil is supposed to boil (or froth into bubbles) and continue boiling until the Aswang leaves the area. A buntot pagi, a stingray's tail, is also a very effective weapon against such beings; if one is brave enough to face the aswang in combat, a shiny sword made of sterling silver or an image of an old crone (a grandmother's) would effectively dispel their presence according to local folklore. The myth of silver weapons dispelling evil creatures is probably taken from western mythology.

In the case of the Agitot type of aswang, freshly drawn semenal fluids thrown or whisked at the Agitot's way would distract this aswang from attacking as it would lap-away the precious fluids before pursuing its intended victim. Rumors have it, that this type of aswang continues to prevail among modern societies, hence the anecdotal/idiomatic expression "hiding in the closet" or closet-queen.

Throwing salt at aswangs may cause their skin to burn due to the purifying powers of the salt crystals in witchcraft. By "salt," this means all acid-base combinations, not limited to table salt alone. Hypochlorides and other types of salts may produce the same burning effect in Aswangs.

Aswang Attack in Antique? (Jan 2007)

Here's a story we found on another blog, this one from IloiloCityBoy. A local daily in Western Visayas, The Guardian, published this news report from not-so-far-away Antique province.

The article was entitled "Witch Killed My Daughter", and was published on 05 January 2007, written by The Guardian correspondent Albert Mamora. While IloiloCityBoy had provided the link to the main story, it seems that the story is no longer hosted on the original site, and is therefore not available.

Nevertheless, here's what we found on IloiloCityBoy's blog:
HAMTIC, Antique – Mystery shrouds the death of a 13-year-old girl in a village here amid speculations that an aswang or flesh-eating ghoul may have snuffed her life away. Estelita Adrada, 48, of Brgy. Asluman here had the shock of her life when she discovered her eighth child April Rose already lifeless inside their nipa hut early morning yesterday.

What shocked Estelita more was the wound on April Rose’s lower right jaw as if an animal bit her face off (see photo). Bruno Adrada, 24, April Rose’s elder brother, said April Rose was already feeling ill days before. Instead of eating a full dinner, April Rose only took bread and milk because of the fever and headache she contracted. Estelita said she was hugging her daughter while they were sleeping because the latter was not feeling well. All went well inside the Adrada residence until 4am yesterday when Estelita felt April Rose already cold and not moving.

The caretaker of a nearby beach resort home said their three dogs were barking at the Adrada house between 10pm and 11pm Wednesday but he did not see anything unusual in the area. Dr. Maria Eva Pacificador, Hamtic municipal health officer, who conducted an initial autopsy on April Rose’s remains, said the victim died between 10pm Wednesday and 1am Thursday.

At this point, the aforementioned link was supposed to take you to the rest of the story, but it's a dead link now.

Read more about the aswang, the Philippine flesh-eating ghoul, here on another blog entry.

Until next time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Welcome To Normal Paranormal

I've always been strangely fascinated with the paranormal and the supernatural even as a kid. One of the first books I really got into was this old Reader's Digest publication called "Into The Unknown". I remember it so well because it was what got me interested in UFO's, ghosts, monster sightings, vampires, witchcraft, etc.

One other book I was so very into when I was a kid was "Mysteries of the Unexplained", another old Reader's Digest publication which had more of the same stuff, but offered more strange tales- stories of spontaneous human combustion, sinkholes swallowing entire houses, frogs raining down on a town, feral children- man, I could just go on.

And then I remember this one particular cousin of mine who, in addition to a whole other bunch of books, also has great stuff on Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Extra-Terrestrial Encounters and so much more.

So it would seem that, yes, I do have a fascination for all these paranormal subjects. Having the internet around makes collating all these stories and observations and accounts so much more easier. And I thought, in March of 2008, why not have an entire blog about it and share what we know with others?

Thus this personal project, "Normal Paranormal". I wanted a blog that would cover just about any kind of weird, typically unexplainable paranormal or supernatural activity- whether local or global- expect to see stuff on ghosts and hauntings, urban legends, monster sightings, local myth and folklore, parapsychology, ufology, forteana, strange physics, and pretty much anything else in between.

Consider this new blog as a collection of stories of sorts. It doesn't have to be just from the Philippines. Isn't it interesting how ghosts, for example, are such a universal phenomenon? Just about every culture have ghosts and spirits in their folklore- something definitely worth looking into.

My aim is not to debunk, or demystify anything, or even provide an explanation as to what's going on. In fact, I've quite accepted the grim truth- there's a lot of stuff out there we couldn't explain, and let's just take it all at face value, and leave the dissecting to the experts, which I am clearly not part of.

So I hope to hear your stories as well. I'm sure a lot of people would love to hear about them too.

Cheers, everyone!