Aguto, Dana Emmellyne B.
The Origins of Aswang Folklore
When I was eight, I had a classmate named Sciart who was a transferee from Capiz,
Visayas. Just like every other boy in my class, he had a disgusting sense of humor: laughing
at every spitball and chuckling at other boys who picked their noses. But more important than
that, he was incredibly fond of telling stories and tales of evil witches, ugly gremlins,
creatures who are half horsehalf man, and giant, hairy men with large cigars between their
teeth. I remember very clearly how one time, while we were cleaning the classroom on a
rainy afternoon, he started talking about his encounter with the famous aswang.
It was a dark night. There was a power outage in their village, so the roads were
illuminated by nothing but the dim moonlight and the flickering candles from their
neighbors' homes. Sciart and his sister were asked to buy vinegar for the viand their mother
was cooking for dinner. The nearby sarisari stores were closed, so they had no choice but to
buy from somewhere farther from their house. The darkness made them feel uneasy, because
most of the children in Visayas were taught at a young age that monsters lurk in every corner,
behind every tree and beneath every rock in the region. Their pace varied from slow to fast
and back again, so when they suddenly slowed down Sciart heard an extra footstep. He didn't
mention it to his sister, thinking that there should be at least one of them who kept their wits.
Everytime he stopped to look behind him, only darkness greeted. When they got to the store
safely, he felt more confident and they decided to race each other back home. Along the way,
they encountered an unusually large black pig standing in the middle of the street. The two
kids immediately stopped running and looked at it nervously. "Oh magingat ingat kayo ah.
At pag nakakita kayo ng malaking hayop na itim, magdasal na kayo. Kasi malamang, aswang
iyan," his mother's voice echoed in his head. Sciart's sister started walking slowly, trying not
to agitate the massive pig and he followed suit, clinging onto his sister's shirt in the fear of
being left behind. Sciart said the pig had bloodshot eyes and that it seemed to look straight at
you, trying to bore holes into your skull. When they got past it, they started running as fast as
they can. Aside from their labored breaths and frightened whimpers, the only other noise they
heard was the flapping of wings.
Being a true blue Baguio girl, I've gotten used to tales of ghosts and white ladies.
Tales of translucent beings floating through walls started to bore me, so when Sciart came
bearing new horror stories about creatures of the night, I hung onto his every word. Ever
since, I've had a growing interest in the aswang and its various siblings. But where, exactly,
did the aswang myths come from?
Before anything else, here are the things we need to know about the aswang. It's a
famous mythical creature in the Philippines....