Recently, my cable/internet/phone services changed in my town of Hannibal, Missouri, and through my numerous phone calls to the new company in an attempt to resolve issues, I spoke with a young man in the Philippines. Although, he was not particularly helpful in getting my concerns taken care of, through the course of our conversation, he did introduce me to an interesting cryptid from the Philippines.
In the folklore of the Filipino culture, the Aswang/Asuwang/Asuang is not only a generic term for all types of mythological creatures including werewolves, ghosts, witches and vampires, but also a kind of ghoul that feeds on the entrails of the dead. The evil monster is usually female, and is also known as “tik-tik,” “wak-wak” and “soc-soc.”
When the first Spanish arrived to the island in the late 16th century, they noted that the Aswang were the most feared creatures of the natives.
The Aswang is particularly known for replacing stolen corpses with a banana tree trunk carved in the likeness of the dead body. They are also said to be able to enter the body of a living person. Female Aswangs often appear as ugly hags. They have been known to haunt certain families and their descendants.
During the day, Aswangs are said to look human, and actually hold down occupations usually related to meat such as butchers or makers of sausage. They are able to transform into an animal at will, usually a pig or a dog, sometimes a bird. If a person looks directly into the eyes of an Aswang, their reflection appears inverted. They often walk with their feet facing backwards.
One type of Aswang, the tik-tik is said to transform into a huge bird or bat and attacks babies while they are inside their mother’s womb by extending a long proboscis into the womb and licking it causing the mother to have a miscarriage.
The Dangga or Agitot Aswan is said to appear as a handsome flamboyant fellow who hunts women in the night. Another kind is called the Sigbin or Zegben, and many believe the Chupacabra might fall under this category.
A well-known legend about a clan of Aswangs concerns the family of Tiniente Gimo from the town of Dueñas in Iloilo, a region in the Visayas. One of Gimo’s daughters brought home a friend from the university where she was studying. The clan attempted to kill the girl in her sleep, but she outwitted them and they killed Gimo’s daughter instead.
Garlic, salt, holy water, and sterling silver are said to ward off the Aswang. A potion made from coconut oil and certain herbs will reveal if an Aswang is nearby.
Many people in the Philippines believe these creatures still exist, and child kidnappings and grave robberies are still often attributed to the Aswang.
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