Vampiric creatures are nothing more than legends from a time when people were superstitious and modern science didn’t exist, right? Yet, in the Philippines, there are supposedly shape-shifting creatures that terrorize the community by feeding off their blood.
The term “aswang” doesn’t refer to one entity but a wide array of them. If there is a creature that feeds off blood it can be classified under this category, but not always. There are three traits that are generally associated with aswang, they tend to prefer children and sick people, they feed off blood and human livers, and their ultimate food preference is unborn children. Another way to define an aswang is a human shapeshifter. Therefore, in Filipino culture, a werewolf could be considered an aswang.
Fantastical qualities of the aswang have been ascribed to them such as having backward feet and having incredibly long tongues. There is even a belief that if one wants to become an aswang he must tie a fertilized chicken egg to a belt and the chick then crawls into the belly of the host, transforming him.
Admittedly, from the perspective of outsiders, these legends seem silly and superstitious. However, there are several credible stories of encounters with creatures that can be classified as aswang. There are police reports and tales of skeptics becoming believers. Unexpectedly, there are more reports of aswang than one might expect.
Certainly, some of the attributes ascribed to the aswang can be due to legends that have persisted over time, but is it possible there is any truth to these reports? You be the judge of that. As I’ve said in previous installments of this series, it is overly simplistic to either believe all stories or dismiss them all. That doesn’t mean the phenomenon is necessarily true, but something can be true and a legend at the same time. What I mean is that not every aspect of a legendary beast must be true in order for some form of it to exist.
If one believes in the spiritual realm, then it is entirely possible that an entity could possess and change a person. In fact, it stands to reason that a spiritual realm would be as varied as the physical animal kingdom.
Whether you believe in the aswang or not, there are many people who do and are convinced they or a loved one had a personal encounter with one of these entities. There are many strange deaths believed to be caused by aswang. Are these merely examples of local legend blamed on real tragedy? Is there something truly lurking in the darkness in the Philippines? Or is the truth a strange blend of the two? Modern science refutes the idea of the undead, but what if there are things beyond the understanding of science? After all, if you believe in God, you must believe in the demonic realm, and if you can accept that then maybe there are forces interacting with our world in unnatural ways.
There is so much more that can be said about this topic. Perhaps I will do a part two in the future, in the meantime, let me know what you think. Is there some truth to the aswang? Are the locals simply letting their culture and superstitions bleed into reality.