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The Aswang Of the Philippines

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An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a ghoul in Filipino folklore. Like ghouls, the Aswang are mainly eaters of the dead. The myth of the aswang is popular in the Wetern Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo and Antique. The trademark or major feature of Aswangs which distinguish them from other Filipino mythological creaturers is their propensity to replace stolen cadavers with the trunk of a banana tree carved in the cadaver's likeness. They are also said to like to eat small children. Their favorite body parts are the liver and heart. Other local names, especially in Capiz are tik-tik and wak-wak.

Aswang, at times is also a generic term applied to all types of mythological creatures, ghosts, manananggals, witches, shape-shifters, lycanths and monsters. Aswang is often interchanged with manananggal, but they are different. There are also characteristics and features that the Aswang also varies from filipino to filipino. The paragraph below is more common or a typical description of the aswang.

With respect to Aswang, Capiz( a region in the Western Visayas) is the subject or focus of many Aswang, and other types of mythylogical and folkloric ghosts(multo), goblins, ghouls, manannagal, witches(mangkukulam), giant horse men(kapre) and other monster stories, especially for tabloids. Capiz is ( unfairly ) rumored to have a number of aswang and covens of witches. Superstitious folk who believe in their existence can still be found in these parts. They typically adorn windows, rooms, etc. with garlic bulbs, holy water, etc. which supposedly repels these creatures.

The myth of the Aswang is popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, specially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Antique. Aside from entertainment value, mothers are said to tell their children Aswang stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night. Similar to Count Vlad III Dracula of Transylvania in Vampire stories, the most popular characters are the clan of Teñente/ Tenyente/ Tiniente Gimo of the town of Dueñas, Iloilo.

An aswang is a regular, townsperson by day and prefer an occupation related to meat, such as butchery or making sausages.

Aswangs have an ageless appearance, a quiet, shy and elusive manner. They can be distinguished from humans by two signs: One sign is the bloodshot eyes, from staying up all night looking for opportunities to sneak into houses where funeral wakes are being held, and stealing the dead bodies.

According to the elderly, the Asuwang can also transform from human to animal and animal to human. The Aswang can disguise him/herself as a pig, dog or a black bird. Supposedly if a person looks at them in the eyes, the reflection would appear inverted. During their nocturnal activities, they walk with their feet facing backwards.

One type is the tik-tik which transforms into a huge bird at night and prowls. The tik-tik looks for a sleeping person. Then extends a very long proboscis into the unsuspecting victim and proceeds to suck the blood. While performing, a 'tik-tik' sound is heard.

It is said that an Aswang can be revealed, with the use of a bottle of a special oil made from coconut and mixed with plant's stems upon which special prayers were said. When an Aswang comes near or walks outside the house at night, the oil is supposed to boil and continue boiling until the Aswang leaves the area. They are also said to abhor garlic.

Like UFO stories, X-files, etc. Aswang stories are one of the favorites in unreliable sensationalist tabloids, especially when there are grave robberies, child kidnappings, people with eccentric or peculiar habits and other incidents that can somehow be attributed to them. There are also quite a number of superstitious people, in the provinces mentioned who believe in their existence.

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