One of the most horrifying creatures I’ve ever learned of from Filipino mythology is the aswang. According to Filipino folklore, aswang are beasts that can look innocent, like a passing animal or even another human, but are actually vicious. They do terrifying things. I used to be absolutely frightened of the slight possibility of meeting an aswang. The house I lived in in the Philippines was in a village, and the nearest city was Baguio City. The rural area that I lived in in the Philippines gave a significant sense of connectivity to the land. Despite the fear I held, the connectivity to the land and the numerous animals on the farm gave me a sort of confidence that overcame my fear. Even so, aswang are scary myths.
Aswang induce a fear in the darkness. These shapeshifting monsters torment and consume humans that are unfortunate enough to have attracted one. They are nocturnal, and their ability to change shape so that they can seem like safe creatures like a bat or pig makes it unlikely that a victim would know when to run at the initial sight of an aswang. They can either change shape at will or use oils from evil magicians. Their preferable prey consists of the unwary traveler or a sleeping person. My grandmother, God bless her soul, said that they mostly enjoy the taste of the human liver. She had also told me that their favorite food is the human fetus, which meant that they preferred to prey on pregnant woman. Pregnant women smelled like fruit to them according to my grandmother. Even though it didn’t, and still doesn’t, apply to me, I couldn’t sleep for awhile after my grandmother told me that aswang can stretch their tongue into the room of a pregnant woman so that they can use it to eat the fetus from the inside of the womb. This grotesque image was enough to make a seven-year-old scream in fear.
Aswang are one of the most fearful mythological creatures in Filipino folklore. Although the duwendes, Filipino dwarves, are seemingly harmless aside from their mischievous ways, aswang are absolutely horrifying. Most other Filipino mythical creatures usually seem much more benign than the aswang. I may never understand why my grandmother, rest in peace, wanted to instill this kind of fear into a seven-year-old, but I still love my grandmother and the traditional culture and history of myths in the Philippines.