Friday, October 30, 2009

Aswang stories

I would like to contribute my own personal aswang stories to the many horror stories currently floated in time for the Halloween.

My farmhouse used to be the lone house in my area along the highway (after I built my hut, many OFWs bought the ajoining lots and built big concrete houses). Before my hut was built, the area was a long expanse of sugarcane and corn fields. And as there were no streetlights and no houses nearby, the place was notorious as baragatan, or where a bagat (a kapre, an aswang, or a spirit) would block the path of a passerby.

I employed carpenters living in the same barangay to build my simple hut. After work, the men would always go home early when it was not yet dark as if they knew something sinister would happen in the area when night fell. I heard them talked about two separate road accidents years ago that occurred in front of my property. In both accidents, the drivers of the trucks died on the spot. In the nights following the accidents, aside from the bagat, a sentermo (ball of fire) appeared near the sites of the accidents.

Some folks talk in whispers about a very old woman who was rumored to be an aswang and who lived in the next barangay. She would not die because none of her kin would accept her anta (pet, or in this context, the source of being an aswang; anyone who accepts the anta would also become an aswang). So the old woman became a maranhig (a living dead). Later, her son pitied her. He whispered to her as she lay on her bed, his willingness to accept the anta. She asked her son to get near her and face her. As the face of her son got near her face, globules of air rushed out of her throat and were sucked into the mouth of her son. Then she died. After she was buried, her son vanished from the area. The folks surmised that he wanted to have victims in far away places rather than victimize people in the area who were mostly his relatives. But everyone was cautious, and closed and secured their houses before it got dark. They thought the son could return anytime.

When my hut was about to be finished, I asked some of the carpenters to sleep there so they could keep an eye on some materials I left on the site. I offered them a bottle of whiskey so they would stay. And they stayed only for two nights. On the third day, they said that somebody or something was heard to walk near the house at night. And they were afraid that it was the notorious aswang. I just laughed off the story and asked them to just be sure that all materials were secured when they leave.

After sometime, my aunt went to see me and informed me that as the owner of the house, I was supposed to sleep in the hut on a particular date because, according to her, the almanaque stated that the said date was lucky for the owner of the house. So I slept in my new nipa hut on the specified date. And I couldn’t sleep at all because I was new to the place, and I was not used to sleeping on a bamboo bed or papag. Each time I moved, the papag creaked. And the snores of the carpenters who accompanied me that night, were not in synch with the chirps of the crickets and the croaks of the frogs. Libagon gid. In the middle of the night, when the others were sleeping soundly after two bottles of whiskey, I could hear the sound of somebody or something walking near the house, just as the carpenters said. I recently placed gravel on the walkway that I built from the highway to the hut for my car. And anybody who walked on loose gravel created a sound. The walking sound got nearer and stopped directly under the window of my bedroom. My window was open, with small bamboo poles about 2 meters long serving as grills. I froze. This could be the aswang the carpenters were talking about. I felt my hairs about to rise. The room suddenly became cold. But this could be my chance to see an aswang. I gingerly got up without creating a sound and went to the window. Yes, I was afraid. But my curiousity got me going. I gradually peered over the window. My hairs were already standing. I could hear the thunderous noise of my heartbeats. And I expected a black figure, hunched under my window, looking up at me with red eyes and a diabolical grin that showed its pangs. Suddenly, there they were… the aswangs – two of them, their dark shadows made them bigger, and through the moonlight, I could see the glint of their saliva. These were two dogs walking on the gravel and hungry for food - the same two dogs of my far neighbor that patrolled my hut during the day and fought for morsels thrown by the carpenters at lunchtime. I was disappointed. I shouted at the dogs and threw a piece of bamboo at them. They scampered away towards the direction of my neighbor’s house.

The following morning, I told the carpenters about the dogs. They asked me about the dogs’ sizes. Didn’t they look like human? Were their eyes red? I told them the dogs were ordinary as I pointed at the dogs about to enter my property. ‘Those were the dogs I saw last night,’ I revealed. The carpenters were incredulous as they said aswangs could turn themselves into ordinary animals.

In my farm, I have a poultry, a piggery, and plots of vegetables. I had different people working with me in different times. Most of these people came from far away places, usually from the mountain villages in Iloilo. And they had tales to tell as regards aswang.

I had caretakers who acted differently because of their peculiar experiences someplace. One caretaker was so insentive when drunk but tell him about an aswang and he would sober up. One planted manunggal vines behind my bathroom when he discovered my bathroom had no roof and that it could be made an entryway of an aswang in attacking him while sleeping inside the house. Another placed some bagakay (a slender variety of bamboo)sticks atop the rafters and underneath the house. He said that aswangs were afraid of bagakay.


A manunggal vine winds like a snake behind my hut. Manunggal is said to drive aswangs away.

The oldest and laziest among my farmhands recently got my ire. I nearly fired him because… I was experimenting on propagating bonsai trees. So I planted lunok (ficus) twigs on empty milk cans. After a year, the twigs were already mature and could already be shaped. But after sometime, the growing lunok bonsais were gone. I couldn’t find them. So I asked my men. This lazy man answered that he uprooted the plants and threw them away. He destroyed the lunoks because he said they served as homes of tamawos (fairies). I was incensed. But this was another story.

And here’s a story from my cousin, a cop, who was a constant visitor. He was a fearless crime-buster and a fearful aswang believer. He said there were aswangs passing by their house in Negros. There was a time that his baby would cry uncontrollably every night. So they called for a surhano. The surnaho did a seremonya, placed some oil on his baby, and burned kalawag under their house. From then on, his baby slept peacefully every night. When the crying returned after a few weeks, he called for the same surhano. The surhano made the same seremonya and informed him to keep watch the next few nights. He didn’t sleep that night. Suddenly, near midnight, his baby went into a fit of crying. He told his wife and their helper to keep their eyes on the baby as he kept watch outside their bedroom. He trained his ears to catch unfamiliar sounds. Then there was a noise coming from their kitchen. Someone just entered their kitchen area. This could be the evil kind he was supposed to watch for. He readied his pistol in his right hand and a flashlight in another. He surreptitiously walked to the kitchen. From the faint light from the far streetlight, he could see a crouching dark human form moving near their stove. He was trembling. But his baby was at stake. He would kill the devil, he thought. He aimed his pistol and his flashlight towards the shadow. He counted up to three and opened his flashlight. ‘Grabe,’ he said. The human form, according to him, suddenly turned into a big black cat, its eyes glowing in front of his flashlight. The cat jumped to the opening near a window, causing a kaldero to fall with a loud crash and all its fish contents scattered on the floor. ‘Grabe no? Ang tawo nahimo nga kuti!’, he boasted. I laughed. ‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Naghitsura ang garhom nga tawo, kay waay mo pa nakita, sa isip mo tawo na ang nabatian mo. Ti kon aswang to, insa nga nagtakab lang isda? Daad nagderetso sa baby mo kag gintaban.’ My cousin pretended he heard nothing as he asked to leave.


Aswangs are said to be afraid of bagakay. In photo, bagakay sticks atop the rafters.

The classic aswang story was told to me by my father when I was a kid. It was about a person I call T. I will not print the name because this might be a true story of real people, and not necessarily a fictional story woven by my father. I also heard this story from my aunts, grandparents, and other old people who were long dead but who swore that the story was true.

It was school vacation. The son of T came from school with his classmate. The classmate came from another place and was happy to spend his vacation with the family of T.

One night when everybody seemed to be sleeping, the classmate who was sleeping with the son on the same bed (in the barrios, children sleep beside each other on a woven buri mat), had an urge to urinate. So he rose to go to the toilet. When he was about to get out of the bedroom, he noticed that T and his wife were still awake and were in the kitchen doing something. The classmate overheard T asked his wife if the water was already boiling. Obviously, the two were boiling water in a big cauldron. The wife answered that the water was not yet boiling. Then T asked his wife to inform him if the water was ready so he could get the boy. The classmate felt needles were pricking his skin. He didn’t know what to do. ‘Yes, but just be sure that you get the right boy. It is very dark. You might pick up our son. Do you like to eat your own son?’ The classmate heard the reply of the wife. He was terribly frightened. His urge to urinate was gone. ‘No, I will be very careful. Have you noticed that the boy was wearing a ring? Our son has no ring. So I will just get the boy who is wearing a ring.’

The classmate retreated back to the bed. He could not run away without getting the attention of the couple. He was sweating and trembling. He lay beside the son. He could still hear T saying ‘Our son has no ring.’
The classmate took off his ring and carefully slipped it over the finger of the son. Then he pretended to sleep.

The door to the bedroom creaked open. In the dark, the classmate could see what seemed to be the shadow of T. The classmate was profusely sweating, trembling and praying. He hoped T would just go for the ring. Then the mosquito net over classmate and son was raised by the shadow. The classmate bit his tongue so he could not shout. He felt a hand caressing his hand as if massaging his fingers. Then the hand went to the son sleeping nearby.

The classmate could sense that the shadow was raising the body of the son. Away from the bed and on the floor, the big shadow was gagging, suffocating, and tying up the son with a chord. Then the shadow went out of the room.

The classmate prayed that T would not come back. He rose from the bed, and tiptoed out of the room and out of the house. Once outside the house, he ran as fast as he could without looking back. After sometime, he heard shouts and shrieks from T’s house which was already far away. Obviously, T and wife discovered too late their mistake. The classmate could hear the anger, anguish and resolve of the couple to catch him.

The classmate ran and ran. He saw a railroad track and followed it hoping to find help. Then he saw a train station. It was deserted as it was still dark. So classmate looked for a place nearby where he could hide and where he could safely wait for the first trip of the train. After sometime, the classmate heard the rustling of wings as two shadows rushed in and inspected the station. Finding no one, the two shadows cursed and hurriedly left.

After a few hours, streaks of light appeared in the horizon. A few persons, still sleepy, trickled to the station. The station was opened and some persons bought for their tickets. Classmate came out of hiding and purchased his own ticket.

From here on, the story of T became an aswang story.

Maybe, many readers of this blog had also heard this story before as narrated by their elders. Could this story be true?@

2 comments:

Nang Naty said...

I had heard all these three stories of Aswang turning into animals . When I was growing up I completely believed on these. But as I grew older I started to interpret it as a delusion especially when you have it already in your head and of course you already have a conclusiin your head that it is a person but when in reality it is the cat that tries to steal you pinamalhan nga isda, ha,ha,ha,ha!
and I've also heard about the boy and his classmate. I thought it happened in Duenas.

Anonymous said...

my religion teacher told me a little same story when i was still in elementary...she said i happened to her father...

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