Here’s a list of 18 aswang myths as shown in the film Aswang released May 1992. Aswang was directed by long-time collaborators Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes from a story they co-wrote with production designer Don Escudero. Pen Medina, who also acted in the film, and Jerry Lopez Sineneng shared screenwriting credits. It was produced by Regal Films.
Warning: This article contains spoilers.
1. The Aswang shows up when people turn away from God. This is according to a senior resident (Mary Walter). The last time she was felt in the town of Talisay was 30 years ago when a Fr. Lorenzo left for lack of believers.
2. She is beautiful, young & ageless (Alma Moreno). Talisay native & Lorenzo family driver Dudoy Pascua (Berting Labra) recalls seeing her 35 years ago and noticed that she hasn’t aged a bit. He has suddenly returned to his hometown with his master’s (Orestes Ojeda) daughter Catlyn (an 8-9yo Aiza Seguerra) and her nanny Veron (Manilyn Reynes) to hide; all three were unwitting witnesses to the murder of Catlyn’s mother Mrs. Lorenzo (Gigette Reyes).
3. She is also a bent, long-haired old hag (Lilia Cuntapay) whose dual identity can be revealed by a video camera. This is exemplified by a playback shown by nosy aswang hunter Dr Abraham (Leo Martinez) to Veron at the police station.
4. She can move among townspeople in broad daylight. For example, she showed up near the wake of Dudoy’s nephew Emil (Joey Marquez), a resident she herself victimized, like a regular human being.
5. She can sense however far she is if someone is trespassing her home.
6. She can move from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Veron experienced this kind of unsettling presence by a river, sending her into panic mode, when she went out looking for her ward Catlyn who has an annoying habit of wondering about.
7. She is at her strongest and hungriest during a full moon, according to Dr Abraham. Her powers also wanes together with the moon.
8. She preys on the unborn. She does so at night, by landing on thatched roofs as a bird; transforming into human form; boring a hole into the roof, inserting an extended tonque through the hole and sucking the life out of a pregnant woman’s stomach. The hapless victim in this case was Emil’s widow Rosita (Janice de Belen).
9. She feasts on children, her favorite victims; feeds on their fresh liver according to Dr Abraham.
10. She fearlessly bites adults be it daytime or nightime. Dudoy & Veron suffered this fate.
11. She’s a shape-shifter depending on the needs of the situation. If she has to attack, she can turn into a wild pig, slithering snake or gruesome monster. If she has to be coddled, she can be a stray kitten or white parrot.
12. She can mimic the form of any human being she’s seen up-close or merely from a photograph. Impressionable Catlyn fell for this deception when the aswang transformed into first, as her murdered mother, Mrs Lorenzo, and then, as her nanny Veron.
13. She can appear differently to anybody. Veron claims she was bitten on the shoulder by the beautiful woman but prospective suitor & rescuer Edgar (Aljon Jimenez) and his brothers Edison (Ang) & Mar (Mojica) saw an unspecified animal instead.
14. She barely speaks unless her survival is threatened, usually in the guise of her aggressors. To get inside her house–Veron & Catlyn have kept vigil by her hut with a large jar of salt– she desperately appealed to the child by becoming her mother with matching voice.
15. She has to get home, if severly wounded, before the strike of dawn, according to Dr. Abraham. Otherwise, she will burn to the ground.
16. She can not enter her hut if there is rock salt on the highest step of the ladder, still according to Dr Abraham. She shrieks in pain when a handful of salt is thrown at her. Catlyn learned this first-hand to save her now limping nanny Veron from the clutches of the aswang.
17. She heals herself with a shell, which she has an assortment of stashed in a wooden chest, as an asthmatic would use an inhaler when having an attack; then slowly rubs it all over her body.
18. She entreats by setting up a bonfire, draws strange diagrams on the ground and with raised hands, knocks shells with each other.
Catlyn Lorenzo (Aiza Seguerra), who has smarts like Kevin in Home Alone; her nanny Veron (Manilyn Reynes) who gives tough love; & family driver Dudoy25 Pascua (Berting Labra) luckily overstayed at a children’s party. Otherwise, they would have suffered the same ending as Mrs Lorenzo (Gigette Reyes), Catlyn’s mother, and a housemaid, who were robbed and murdered in their posh residence.
It turned out to be an inside job led by Patrick (Dick Israel) in connivance with newly-hired security guard Nato (Pen Medina). Their partners in crime included Jason (John Estrada) & Morris “don’t worry” (Rey Solo).
Dudoy decides that they hide immediately and drives his young mistress and her nanny to his hometown of Talisay. They are sadly greeted upon arrival by the wake of his nephew Emil (Joey Marquez), son of his sister Bining (Eva Ramos). Emil was celebrating his birthday, drinking with friends (Alfred Yuson, Mario Taguiwalo) when he took a pee. He never returned and was later found slaughtered in a nearby forested area.
Law enforcers CP4 Melchor (Rudy Castillo) PO3 Gaspar (Totoy Magno) & PO2 Baltazar (Jun Basilio) are investigating the matter for possible homicide but nosy aswang hunter Dr Abraham (Leo Martinez) believes it was caused by something supernatural, an aswang.
Patrick and his gang, pretending to be undercover agents, soon catch up on Catlyn, Veron & Dudoy The witnesses on the run find themselves battling bumbling criminals and a shape-shifting blood-sucker of a creature called an aswang (Alma Moreno/Lilia Cuntapay).
*Aswang film stills courtesy of Regal Entertainment.
You can watch some local films on MOOV, Cinema Centenario’s video on-demand online channel.