History and Culture
What's Terrorizing This Barrio in Zamboanga City?
Choose Philippines | Nov 13, 2019
Story and photos by Chrisel Almonia
As dusk falls, fear envelops the small village of Patalon, Zamboanga City. Children are herded into houses, windows are shut, doors are locked. The sounds of crickets still bring back the fear of the residents in this small community, even a year after their peaceful barrio was allegedly disturbed by a creature they call Sagayih.
For the Tausug tribe, the Sagayih existed even during the ancient times and its scary stories were passed on to generations. Some describe Sagayih as a creature resembling a human, but with fangs, red eyes, carrying a bolo to kill his victims. Others say that Sagayih is a man who kidnaps children to get their internal organs, cut off their heads or any part of the body to sell or to offer as a sacrifice.
Anisha was 6-months pregnant when she had an encounter with the Sagayih. She was at home with her two children in their house made of bamboo. She woke up in the middle of the night upon hearing some noise. Anisha quickly opened the light and was surprised to see a creature with red eyes and fangs, who managed to make a hole at the wall. “Pula masyado mata nya, galit, tapos may pangil,” (Its eyes were extremely red, it was mad and had fangs.) Anisha recalled.
With great fear, she shouted as loud as she can, awakening her neighbors who rushed to help her. This prompted the creature to run towards the bushes to hide. A group of men tried to chase after the creature. Instead, they found an unidentified shirtless man who disappeared in the woods. “Tapos narinig naming dumaan siya doon sa kabila, tapos nung hinabol naming kasi madilim di na naming Nakita,” Ahmad Jawadin recalls. (We heard him pass another way. We chased him but it was too dark so we didn’t find him.)
Residents also believe that the Sagayih possesses an amulet to evade being caught. The incident was reported by the locals to their village officials. Nothing has come out of their complaints, as no one can pinpoint the location of the Sagayih and if indeed the creature exists.
A year later, Nuraina Amisani, another victim of an alleged Sagayih attack, still fears that the creature will return one day to take their children. “Maitim daw tapos yung katawan parang may oil, kasi daw nilalagyan ng oil yung katawan niya para makatakas lang siya agad," Nuraina recounts. (It was dark-colored, with a body that was smeared with oil. It does this so it can easily escape.) The elders in the village believe that the Sagayih might have been targeting Anisha’s baby or the two children who were sleeping with her in the room.
Stories of the residents’ encounter with the Sagayih spread like wildfire. The village chieftain, Gaudencio Rojas, says, “Amo man kel el primer y ultimo report na barangay.” (The incident last year was the first and the last time the residents reportedly had an encounter with the creature.)
If there was anything good that came out of the reported Sagayih attack, it moved the residents of the small purok in Patalon to secure their community, anticipating that one day, the Sagayih will return. New faces in the said community are also being monitored as residents fear that it might be a Sagayih housed inside a man’s body.