Friday, March 20, 2015

Of aswangs and sigbins

In a recent exchange of emails with my sisters, two of them mentioned this “aswang”, a label they had given a grey-haired woman who used to own the huts on a beach which our family frequented during our childhood days. I was amazed that I did not share this memory. I certainly remembered the woman, but not that we had ever thought she was an aswang.

Manananggal by hydeist17
According to Philippine folklore, aswangs are shape-shifters. They are humans by day but transform into creatures (most often a dog) at night. They supposedly eat unborn fetuses and small children, favoring livers and hearts. I have a feeling that my sisters confused her with a manananggal, another mythical creature who is a woman by day and transforms into a winged monster-like creature at night. When darkness falls, her torso splits, allowing the upper half to fly away and hunt humans.