THE ASWANG by Zamdikto


by Zamdikto in Manipulations

Vince Gotera

Shooting marbles, Carding from across the street and I knelt on gritty concrete in front of his house.
His mother and a couple of friends sat on the steps, laughing and gossiping about aswang, those routine skulkers of the Philippine night.
Carding's mother had a pretty cousin who could pierce your jugular with her hollow tongue like sharpened bamboo, then delicately sip your blood,
her eyes darting crimson. One of the friends had an uncle with fingernails hard as stone,
his breath reeking of damp earth, of human flesh three days dead.
They said Mang Enteng, who sells baskets at market, changes into cat,
dog or boar at full moon and prowls bundok roads.

That night, I was strolling by Carding's house, and I saw his mother, a pretty mestiza widow,
her face hidden by hair hanging down as she bent far forward from the waist.
A manananggal, the worst kind of aswang: women who can detach themselves at the hips,
shucking their legs at night like a wrinkled slip.
They fly, just face and breasts, to prey on infants.
For a moment, a shadow like a giant bat darkened the moon, then I ran to my friend's room.
He cried as we sneaked into his mother's bedroom and sprinkled crushed garlic and holy water
on the legs propped up in the southeast corner. "She'll be free,"
I told his trembling shoulders. "She'll finally be free."

The next day, friends and neighbors gathered at their house. The priest wouldn't let anyone
in the bedroom, they said. Then six men carried a pine box into the light.
I couldn't forget how his mother flew in the window at dawn. Her face was white, her lips full and red.
She screamed when she couldn't touch her legs. He rushed in,
began to brush away the garlic. His mother like a trapped moth fluttering against the wall.
I leaped and wrapped my arms around Carding. She swooped, we struggled until the first sunbeam
touched her. My friend sobbed as I wiped blood from a cut on my arm. The funeral was a week ago, and all
I've dreamed the last six nights is neighbors standing in a line — I'm running — they whisper, "Aswang. Aswang."


"Aswangs" are often described as a combination of vampire and witch and are almost always female. They are sometimes used as a generic term applied to all types of witches, vampires, manananggals, shapeshifters, therianthropes, and monsters in general. Aswang stories and definitions vary greatly from region to region and person to person, so no one particular set of characteristics can be ascribed to the term. However, the term is often used interchangeably withmanananggal, which is a particular creature with a specific set of features. They are often portrayed as a monster with wings which flap loudly when she's far away and quietly when she's nearer. The most popular original definition however, is that it is a bal-bal, an eater of the dead. After consumption, the bal-bal replaces the cadaver with banana trunks.

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. As regular townspeople, they are quiet, shy and elusive. At night, they transform into creatures from cat, pig, bird and the most common 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 on midnight. 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.
In Indonesia, it is said that by taking on the form of a pig, the Aswang can lean against the side of a building, and suck the money out of it’s victim’s home.

For the price of three gold coins, a Borneo, Aswang witch can temporally change the appearance of a plain and homely woman into a beautifully desirable Lady. This process must be renewed every few years, but only after the woman reverts back to her original form.

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 pagi 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.
Throwing semen at aswang is also said to irritate them. Along with semen, phallic objects are supposed to make the aswang terrified.
Another way for dealing with aswangs is to keep a red pouch full of ginger and coins. The ginger will keep them away while the coins are used for preventing them from lifting you up.
In the case of the Manananggal a half witch and vampiric like creature that takes the form of either an old or beautiful woman. During the full moon, the Mananangal would go to a secluded area to split itself into half and hunt for victims.
A manananggal has a half monstrous, banshee type upper torso and head and it separates itself from its lower half (the torso) It is said if one finds its torso, to either sprinkle salt or sand on its lower half body or burn it, making it impossible for the creature to revert/ transform. And would die upon the first rays of sunlight.
They say that you can determine if another human being is an aswang if you see your own reflection in their eyes as upside down.
People often use bodies of flowing water such as pools, ponds, rivers, Ect to prevent the Aswang from using its magic to victimize a household. It leaves the Aswang magically powerless to steal riches, children, and it also prevents them from returning to their original form.

When the Aswang takes on the form of an animal, and becomes wounded, the injury is still present when they revert back to their human form.

Photo manip materials credited to: - the image - blood - crows

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