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Bangungot From The Batibat

Here’s a little story for you, as you prepare to go to sleep in your nice, cozy, bed with its wooden headboard, posts, and footboard, in your snug, secure house with its wooden frame, with your glass of water on your wooden side tables: It’s from the Ilocano people in the Philippines, and it has to do with trees, sleep, and death.

People in the Philippines, as well as in some other Asian nations along the Pacific coast, have reported a form of death called bangungot. Bangungot comes to young men, unexpected, in their sleep. Ilocano tradition has it that this form of sudden death while sleeping is caused by the batibat.

The batibat is a kind of large female spirit who lives within trees. As long as the trees are left alone, the batibat keeps to itself, mostly. When its tree is cut down for use as timber, however, the batibat takes its revenge. It slips back into the dead wood of its tree, wherever it is being used, and it waits for someone to fall asleep near the wood, whether that wood has been used to make a bed, or simply as part of the wood frame in the construction of a house.

When the batibat’s victim falls asleep, the batibat comes back out of the wood, and sits on the victim’s chest or face. Given that the batibat has the form of a very large woman, the victim cannot move, or even scream out. However, if the victim wiggles a thumb or toe, escape is possible.

The batibat stories have telling similarities to old stories of the paralyzing succubus and more recent tales of oddly disabling night visitations by aliens from outer space. For those of us who are materialist in outlook, the stories all point to pre-medical attempts to explain the experience of sleep paralysis, in which a person wakes up with the feeling of being unable to move or make any sound, and the sense of crushing weight on the chest.

If the Ilocano folktales are true, and batibat spirits will kill anyone who sleeps in a bed, or in a house, made with wood from a spirit tree, why aren’t more young American men suffering from sudden death in their sleep? We Americans are fond of wood-frame houses, and wood-frame beds, and for a long time, a great deal of our lumber came from the Philippines. We ought to have angry batibats all over the place.

My explanation is this: The batibats are not yet savvy to the system of global commerce. The transportation and marketing of lumber these days is too complex for their forest sensibilities to comprehend. I suspect that they end up getting trapped at places like Home Depot, frustrated that they never run across anyone who is ready to go to sleep.

13 comments to Bangungot From The Batibat

  • Could be worse

    “and sits on the victim’s chest or face”

    Waking up to a women sitting on my face… Doesnt seem all that bad. I could think of worse ways to go

    • I’m from Philippines..
      and i’m realizing bangungot…
      I’t is really hard to understand why the batibat choose me to be a victim..
      Sometimes i cannot move my thumb so i move my toe..
      Sometimes i cannot move both..
      So this is my tips who those cannot move their thumb or toe..
      You can Pray and hold the holy rosary while you sleep
      coz’ there is “JESUS” to save you from the batibat
      JESUS IS MORE POWERFUL TO THAT BATIBAT!
      THERE IS JESUS TO SAVE US FROM DISASTERS WE ARE EXPERIENCING LIKE BANGUNGOT.. there is Jesus.. there is Jesus..

      • Ivan

        Im from Philippines and also experienced bangungot caused by the batibat….

        I woke up seeing this lady approaching me and suddenly sits on my face. I can’t move, even shout or breathe.

        I didn’t have the energy to move. It seems that my eyeballs are only the one moving. So I pray “Apostles’ Creed”, I didnt even finished, On my mind I pronounnced only the first sentence and the batibat is gone…

        Prayer do save us all.. Keep praying…

  • Tom

    Ah, folklore. That’s as disturbing as another similar tale where the trees of the old growth forests and rain forests have disease locked in there from centuries long past, and that when the trees are cut down the disease becomes airborne and can have a deadly effect on current populations.

    There was a good X-files episode in that vein.

  • ReMarker

    Haha, the green terrorist treehuggers of yesteryear. Propagate a story about “kill a tree and its spirit will kill you back”.

  • maybe?

    That’s weird. I am from Ilocano descent and have suffered sleep paralysis for about eleven years (that I know of). It comes and goes, but there are consecutive weeks in the year that I regularly have these night terrors and sleep paralysis. I know it may be silly to blame a “batibat” for the occurrences, but I could swear that it’s the same large shadowy figure suffocating me.

  • There is a chance

    Having this may actually be true. There is a scientific name given to such an occurrence. It’s called SUNDS. It is very similar but no large women are involved. Lol. And usually for the victims, the eventual cause of death would be heart attack due to the struggle in their mind manipulating with their heart rate.

  • Veronica Kate Lacson

    I hope those Batibats aren’t staying at Home Depot coz’ I just bought a comfortable red sofa there. Those Batibats really scared me…. not to mention that I linger to my pet’s fur just to lessen my fear. Hahaha…. it’s just that I can’t help myself from searching scary creatures like deadly aswangs, kapre, tiyanak, white lady and other creatures that came from our own Philippine Mythology. Hope those batibats would stop doing their creepy deeds again. Maybe, they’ll excuse pretty ladies like me from running out of breath. Pls. add me in facebook, Veronica Kate Lacson and also search Erillie Rose and Crissah Nielle in Pico World if you’re a pico player. Love lots from the anti-batibot teener, Veronica Kate Lacson!!!

    • Anonymous

      i feel that batibat before. i think 5 or 6 times happend to me when i was sleeping in my house. but she never win to take me…..coz i pray to god deeply everytime that creature attacking me in my dream and we know that praying to god is the best weapon for all evil and bad spirits……

  • Jhasminne Precious Czairielle Smithsons

    Surely, I will never have a peaceful sleep tonight after reading this article, Oh my Gosh, it is really SCARY! Are you guys, really sure that some batibats are in HOME DEPOT??? For heaven’s sake, I promise not to visit the establishment again after reading this insane article! Pls. add me in facebook, Jhasminne Precious Czairielle Smithsons and @jhasminnep_czairiellesmithsons in twitter! My email is czairielle_smithsons@yahoo.com 143….!!!

    • Veronica Kate Lacson

      It’s gonna be the scariest night ever! Boys, I swear maganda po si Jhasminne or best tawagin na kita sa nickname mo ha? Jha-jha, let’s have a girls’ night-out tomorrow together with Sirhee and Hanniethe! Mwamwamwah…. aminin mo na…..Diyosa ka girl1

  • Veronica Kate Lacson

    Happy Monthsary to Christinna Eloisse Jaiden Martino and Daniel Freddie Garcia!
    Happy Birthday to Hanniethe Antoinette Charmaienne Rodriguez of Dasmarinas City.
    Happy Baptism to Caroline Joanetthe Yvonne Vernato/ Carol/Olly/Von-von/Joan

  • libro

    ” Bangungot” – (Nightmare Death Syndrome )This is a Heart Failure it attacked when you are sleeping. You cannot move, you cannot do anything while you were sleeping because your nerve was shutting down the air flows to your heart it connected to all your nerves.That is the reason why cant move, until now the Doctors still looking for the cure.untill now no conclusion about this.

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