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|Region||Visayas and Mindanao|
An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a vampire-like mythical creature in Filipino folklore and is the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories. Spanish colonists noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines, even in the 16th century.
The myth of the aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the Ilocos region, which is the only region that does not have an equivalent myth. It is especially popular in the Western Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo, Negros, Bohol, Masbate, Aklan, Antique and Siquijor. Other regional names for the aswang include "tik-tik", "wak-wak" and "sok-sok".
"Aswang" is referred specifically to a ghoulish were-dog, which is where the word comes from- "Ang Aso" ("The dog" in English). It is a combination of a vampire and a werewolf. Some of this creature is called the "bal-bal" or ghoul (maninilong in Catanauan, Quezon), which replaces the cadaver with banana trunks after consumption. Aswang stories and definitions vary greatly from region to region and person to person, and no particular set of characteristics can be ascribed to the term. However, the term is mostly used interchangeably with manananggal and are also usually depicted as female.
Appearance and 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 shape-shifters. Stories recount aswangs living as regular townspeople. As regular townspeople, they are quiet, shy and elusive. At night, they transform into creatures such as a cat, bat, bird, boar or most often, a dog. They 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 are so thin that they can hide themselves behind a bamboo post. They are fast and silent. Some also make noises, like the Tik-Tik, (the name was derived from the sound it produces) which are louder the further away the aswang is, to confuse its potential victim; and the Bubuu, an aggressive kind of aswang that makes a sound of a laying hen at midnight. They may also replace their live victims or stolen cadavers with doppelgangers 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.
Part of view
Aswangs are physically much more like humans at daytime; they only change their figures at night when they feel they are in need of food. It has been said that if an aswang married a human, upon their wedding, their mate would become an aswang as well but seldomly can they reproduce. The couple may hunt together at night but will go in separate routes, either to avoid detection or because they do not like to share their meal.
These creatures are not harmed by sunlight. They are daywalkers. Aswangs can also be befriended, they can talk to you like any normal human being: they laugh, cry, get mad, jealous, hurt, and envy. These creatures do not harm their neighbors. Neighbors were said to be exempted from their target victims for food. They search for food in far away places that it would not be too obvious for them. Aswangs are said to be vulnerable during daytime because they do not have the excessive strength that they have in their nighttime prowl, therefore being weaker than ordinary people. When people know of their identity, they are hunted down and killed.
Identification at daytime
It is said that to spot an aswang at daytime, look at their eyes. The person in front of you is an aswang if your reflection is upside-down. Another way of knowing is looking in a tuwad manner. The person is an aswang if the image of the person is different.
- Cruz, Neal (2008-10-31). "As I See It: Philippine mythological monsters". Philippine Daily Inquirer
- Eugenio, Damiana (2002). Philippine Folk Literature: The Legends. Matt Asombrado Paculba City: University of the Philippines Press. p. 490. ISBN 971-542-357-4.
- Ramos, Maximo D. (1971). Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. ISBN 971-06-0691-3.
- Ocampo, Ambeth (2010-02-16). "Looking Back: 'Aswang' and counter-insurgency". Philippine Daily Inquirer