A giant, man-eating bat roams the forests in the Philippines, preying on the lives of Brooke's Point Palawanos hunting or foraging for food.
This may sound ridiculous, but it is a legitimate fear for the Palawanos.
"This is one of their cultural legends. It doesn't really matter if it's really real. They believe it and so it is real to them," missionary George Olson wrote. "Can you imagine the fear … if you thought there were really man-eating bats waiting to snatch you up with their tongue every time you went out into the jungle? This is why we don't make fun of their beliefs, but we do hope to show them the truth of the Gospel one day."
George sat down with Raji, a Palawano friend, who explained what the bats are capable of doing to people.
"A belawey eats people. [The] wings stretch from their arms down to the bottom of their feet when they fold out their arms. Their heads are like a cat's head and the body is the same. I have not seen one. I think my father saw one before," Raji said. "He was waiting in a tree to get a fruit bat one time and there was another huge tree next to him. A belawey landed on the trunk of that tree and turned and looked at my father. My father got scared and … fled because they eat people."
George continued to ask questions and Raji explained that it's no use if you're on the ground. The belawey will snap it's long tongue out to grab you.
George also asked Raji what would happen if a python and a belawey fought.
"Who would win?" George asked Raji.
"Probably the python, because they are really aggressive," Raji said.
George also got Raji to admit that if a python were to attack him while friends were present, it would be expected for the friends to kill the python with the machete. If the python is stronger than the belawey, but still able to be killed by men, then wouldn't the belawey be an easy kill?
"If a belawey attacked one person, the others would run because they are scared. So no, you could not get away," Raji said.
Even though the missionaries believe there are no belaweys, it is still a very real fear for the Brooke's Point Palawanos. Please pray that God will reveal His Truth to the Palawano people and that they will realize they don't have to live in fear.