Scary Halloween: Aswang

The deadliest of all Philippine night creatures is the Aswang.

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While the kapre and tikbalang will usually just play tricks on the you, the aswang will feed on you. That's what makes children stare in fright at the dark skies of the night (Halloween or otherwise) when someone screams "Aswang!"

It's no wonder that children pick the aswang for their Halloween costume: dark eyes, wild unruly hair, blood dripping down the sides of their mouth, long sharp nails, dark lips, sharp fangs.

The aswang looks like a regular person during the day except for a few differences:

1. They lack a philtrum (the indentation between your nose and your upper lie).

2. They have sharper than usual elbows (they turn into dogs or wild boars at night, and their elbows turn into dog paws or pig hooves).

3. They shun salt and garlic.

I once heard this story of a traveler who visited some province in the Philippines. It was around noon and he came upon this lonesome shack in a fairly remote area. The person inside offered him lunch which he gladly ate because he was hungry.

The problem was, the food was so bland (no salt, no garlic). The traveler looks for salt and garlic in the kitchen, but instead finds tubs containing human body parts. Apparently, it was the house of an aswang.

Aswangs prefer to eat fetuses or unborn babies. They sometimes perch on the roofs of the houses of pregnant women, and then extend their tongues downward towards the belly button of the sleeping women. The overly stretched tongue looks like a piece of long black thread.

Sometimes, people in the house will see the tongue. If they cut it with a pair of scissors, the black thread turns into a human-looking tongue.

Pregnant women in areas even just outside of Metro Manila will leave pieces of garlic in their window sill to keep the aswang away.

Want to give your friends a scare? Dress up in an aswang Halloween costume!

(To make it triply frightening, munch on some garlic and say you're an aswang who has grown immune to bawang [Tagalog word for garlic].)

[ First posted on 10/28/2005 by Manuel Viloria ]

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