) is a ghoul
in Filipino folklore
. The aswangs are the most feared of supernatural creatures on the Philippines and are the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories, the details of which often vary greatly. The myth of the aswang is popular in the Western Visayan
regions such as Capiz
. Other regional names for the aswang, especially in Capiz, are tik-tik and wak-wak.
"Aswang" is occasionally used as a generic term applied to all types of witches
, and monsters. Aswang stories and definitions vary greatly from region to region and person to person, so no one particular set of characteristics are ascribed to the term. However, the term is often used interchangeably with manananggal
, which is a particular creature with a specific set of features.
Before modern medicine and science, aswangs served to explain miscarriages and other maladies. Today, aside from entertainment value, Filipino mothers often tell their children aswang stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night.
Like UFO stories, aswang stories are one of the favorites of sensationalist tabloids, especially when there are grave robberies, child kidnappings, strange noises, people with eccentric or peculiar habits, and other incidents that can somehow be attributed to them.
Stories of the aswang are popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz (a province on Panay island), Iloilo and Antique. Capiz, in particular, is singled out by tabloids as an area of high supernatural activity: a home to aswangs, manananggals, giant half-horse men (tikbalang) and other mythological creatures. Many of those who live in Capiz are superstitious, and adorn their homes with garlic bulbs, holy water and other objects believed to repel aswang. Since the stories recount aswang eating unborn children, pregnancy is a time of great fear for superstitious Filipinos.
Appearance & Activities
The wide variety of descriptions in the aswang stories make it difficult to settle upon a fixed definition of aswang appearances or activities. However, several common themes that differentiate aswangs from other mythological creatures do emerge: Aswangs are shapeshifters. Stories recount aswangs living as regular townspeople in meat processing professions by day. As regular townspeople, they are quiet, shy and elusive. At night, they transform into creatures that enjoy eating unborn fetuses and small children, favoring livers and hearts. Some have long proboscises
, which they use to suck the children out of their mothers' wombs or their homes. Some also make noises, which are louder the further away the aswang is, done to confuse its potential victim. They may also replace their live victims or stolen cadavers
with facsimiles made from tree trunks or other plant materials. This facsimile will return to the victim's home, only to become sick and die. An aswang will also have bloodshot eyes, the result of staying up all night searching for houses where wakes
are held to steal the bodies.
Some Types of Aswang
A type of aswang, the Kikik/Tik-Tik
, turns into a enormous, prowling bat or bird at night, looking for pregnant women. As it sucks the blood from the fetus with its long proboscis
, it makes a 'kik-kik-kik' sound. Other stories relate the kikik as an aswang's familiar
, its sound masking the aswang's proximity from would-be victims.
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. 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.
The sigbin or zegben has been known as another type of aswang, and alternately, as the kikik's familiar. Its appearance is said to be similar to the chupacabra and the Tasmanian devil, although with spotty fur, wide mouth with large fangs.
One of the most popular legends in the Visayas region is the infamous aswang Tiniente Gimo or Lieutenant Gimo from Dueñas, Iloilo.
In addition, The most commonly known in terms is something called Tyanak/ Tianak happens to be as the unborn baby's due abortion.
Dealing with Aswangs
Typically, an aswang is revealed by using a bottle of a special oil extracted from boiled and decanted coconut meat and mixed with certain plant stems upon which special prayers being said. When an aswang comes near or roams around the house at night, the oil is said to boil (or froth into bubbles) and continue boiling until the aswang departs.
Buntot pari or stingray's tails, shiny, sterling silver swords, and images of old crones or grandmothers have been said to dispel their presence. The myth of silver weapons warding off evil creatures is probably taken from western mythology.
Throwing salt at aswangs is also said to cause their skin to burn. This belief may stem from the purifying powers attributed to salt crystals by various traditions of witchcraft.
Appearances in other media
The short-lived Fox
science-fiction television program Freaky Links
featured an episode in which the protagonists had to deal with an aswang. Unwittingly released from a mystical box, this incarnation was a creature that lacked any shape and chose to remain in the shadows. Instead of stealing dead bodies, the creature instead chose to steal a person's shadow and eventually, their life essence.
Lynda Barry's book One! Hundred! Demons! and her spoken-word CD The Lynda Barry Experience feature stories of the aswang. In her (her grandmother's) version, the aswang is a dog during the day whose hind legs are longer than the front. During the night, she becomes a woman, sheds her legs and flies around looking for prey.
The Sci-Fi Channel show Destination Truth aired an episode concerning a search for proof of the aswang's existence on October 1, 2008.
Other Filipino mythological creatures