The Aswang (or Asuwang) is a Filipino shapeshifting monster known throughout folklore. The monster usually is a combination of the traits of a vampire, a ghoul, a warlock/witch, different species of werebeast, or even all of them together. It should be noted that the Aswang was the most feared mythical creature in the Philippines, even as far back as the 16th century. The myth of the creature is known throughout the Philippines and is especially popular in the Visayas, southern parts of Luzon, and parts of Mindanao. It also goes by other names including “tik-tik”, “bayot”, “wak-wak”, “sok-sok”, and “kling-kling”. The name “Aswang” is derived from the Sanskirt word “Asura” which means “demon”.
The stories of the Aswang vary from region to region and person to person and there is no particular set of characteristics to describe the Aswang but it is usually interchangeable with “manananggal” and is usually depicted as female. Also because of the many different stories of regarding the Aswang there are many different descriptions of appearance and its activities. There are, however, some common themes that make the Aswang different from other creatures.
The Aswang, as mentioned before, are shapeshifters. Many stories say that during the day they are disguised as regular people. Shy, quiet, and even a bit elusive. At night, however, they transform into bats, birds (usually crows), wild boars, black cats, but mostly a big black dog. This next part is a bit grotesque so beware. Their favorite foods are unborn fetuses and small children, mainly their livers and hearts. Some of them have proboscises which they can use to suck children out of the wombs of their mothers while they sleep. Some of the Aswang are so thin they can hide behind bamboo posts and they are very fast. Some of them makes noise such as the Tik-Tik (hence the names). They use these noises to confuse their victims. They may also replace their victims or cadavers with copies or doppelgangers made from tree trunks or other plants. Aswangs have bloodshot eyes from staying up all night hunting for food.
They are physically more like humans during the daytime and only change their appearance at night if they need to go hunting. It has been said that the Aswangs can marry humans and if they do, the human will become one as well but they can not/rarely reproduce. They may hunt together but they will go in separate directions.
They are not harmed by sunlight at all. They can befriended and they can interact with you like any other normal human being. They do not harm their friends and neighbors and have been said to exclude them from being their next meals. They go to places far away that would not be obvious. They are said to be more vulnerable in the day because they do not possess their super strength, and they’ve been known to hunt and kill those who know of their true identities.
There are many ways of getting rid of the Aswang, such as garlic, salt, or religious artifacts and weapons. They are also said to be scared of the sound of a whip made of stingray’s tail. To figure out if a person is an aswang you have to look into their eyes and you will know if they are a aswang if your reflection is upside down. Another way is to bend over and look at them between your legs. If you see something different, it is an aswang. There is a type of oil as well called Hintura which is said to boil and bubble when one is nearby.
These creatures are incredibly interesting. Their disguises are amazing to blend into society and look just like human beings and go about their days among humans. They are fascinating and who knows, maybe there is one living with you right now. You just don’t know it.