Witches, aswangs, and goblins are part of the Philippines culture. As a Filipino-American, I can identify to this phenomena, true or false.
What Is an Aswang?
An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a mythical creature in Philippine folklore. The aswang is an inherently evil vampire-like creature and is the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories, the details of which vary greatly. Spanish colonizers noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines, even in the 16th century.
The myth of the aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the Ilocos region, which is the only region that does not have an equivalent myth. It is especially popular in the Western Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo, and Antique. Other regional names for the aswang include "tik-tik", "wak-wak", and "soc-soc". Aswangs are often described as a combination of vampire and witch and are almost always female. They are sometimes used as a generic term applied to all types of witches, manananggals, shapeshifters, lycanthropes, and monsters.
The aswang are the most feared of the supernatural creatures on the Philippines. They can enter the body of a person, and through this person they inflict harm on those the they dislike. Most common are the female variety who appear as an ugly old woman with long, unkempt hair, blood-shot eyes, long nails, and a long, black tongue. She has holes in her armpits which contain oil. This gives her power of flight.
A being of enormous power, she can transform herself into any shape, even inanimate objects. She preys on children, pregnant women, and ill people. Once she has overpowered a victim, she will take a bundle of sticks, talahib grass, and banana stalks, and transform these into a replica of her victim. This replica is sent home while she takes the real person back with her. Upon reaching its home, the replica will become sick and die. The victim will then be killed and eaten. She is said to be particularly fond of the liver.
There are a wide variety of stories about the Aswang circulating between rural Filipinos, making it impossible to settle upon any fixed definition of their appearance or activities. Aswangs are particularly feared for their fondness for eating unborn fetuses and small children. Their favorite body parts are the liver and heart.
Aswang in Capiz and Lubag
Explanation for Aswang in Philippine Folklore
I was born in Panay Island. As a child, I have heard of many stories about aswang and witches. There is one town near by hometown (Barotac Viejo, Iloilo) supposed to be the haven for witches. In the province of Capiz in the island of Panay, many studies have been conducted to understand the reason for the persistent perpetuation of the aswang folklore in that part of the Philippines. One possible explanation is the occurrence of a neurological disorder endemic to the island. It is known locally as Lubag which meant twisted. Scientifically it is a neurological disorder known as Dystonia Parkinsonism or Dystonia De Panay.
Dystonia de Panay
Dystonia de Panay ( torsion dystonia-Parkinsonism) is a rare musco-skeletal disease found only in Panay. A scientific research found an unusually high percentage of dystonia in several areas of Capiz. The study's molecular genetic analysis indicated that the mutation responsible for the x-linked dystonia-parkinsonism found mostly in males was introduced into the Ilonggo ethnic group of Panay more than 2,000 years ago. But before it could be sufficiently examined to find a cure, the disease mysteriously disappear in the early 1950s.
The disease called "Lubag" in the vernacular afflicts a person with uncontrollable intermittent body spasm of twisting movements, muscular contortions, and shuffling gaits. To the simple superstitious and uneducated in the hinterlands, it was a scary sight that provokes terror and fear. The afflicted person was ostracized and made the scapegoat for any misfortune or accident that befell the community.
I was privileged as a child to observe a neighbor afflicted by the disease. At that time I thought he was an aswang and was so scared, I never venture to be near his home even in broad daylight. It was only during my college years that I realized our neighbor was afflicted by Lubag.
Panay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines
Witches, Ghosts, and Nonos
Witches, nonos, and ghosts are part of life in the Philippines not only during Halloween but also the whole year round.
During my childhood years in the late 1940s, I have heard from my parents and relatives about aswangs (flying witches) visiting homes in the middle of the night. These witches were looking for pregnant women, so they could suck the fetus from their stomach, or for beautiful babies, so they could eat their liver.
The aswang takes the form of an animal perhaps a black flying cat during the night. But during the day, they lived a normal life and looked like an average person or perhaps even a beautiful young lady. One way of discouraging the aswangs to your homes is to put garlic in all the windows as well as amulets.
Kapri and Nonos
I have heard also of other superstitions and folklores mentioning the giant people called Kapri. There are two kinds, the white (the good one) and the black (the evil one). Opposite to this is the small people, the elves or Nono as known in Marinduque. The Nonos lived on big trees in the jungles or even in your backyard. They may be harmless if you left them alone. But if you disturbed their territory, be prepared for bad luck, calamities or sickness.
One of the most popular beliefs and folklore in Marinduque are the existence of Nonos . Three years ago the 12-year old son of our caretaker disappeared for about 4 hours. When he returned he told us that a group of elves had captured him. He said they were friendly and told him that we should not cut the big balete tree in our backyard.
With regards to the Nonos, even though I really do not believe in their existence, I still say "Tabi Po Nono" ("Excuse me, Nono") when passing under the trees and bridges in my property at night and after sunset. Even my 4-year-old granddaughter from Sacramento has learned of this phrase. We told her of the "Tabi Po Nono" phrase seven years ago, during our golden wedding anniversary celebration. The funny part is, when they were in Boracay (an island resort) a week later for a vacation, she said the same phrase while passing a bridge at the Boracay Regency Hotel, where her mother and grandmother were staying. Hurrah to the memory of a 4-year old.
There are also stories about ghosts (white lady apparition) and witches. In Iloilo, my town of birth, there are several towns where there are a lot of witches according to the residents of the neighboring towns. However, there are no proofs or documentation if this is true.
Read More From Exemplore
In my resort property here in Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque some of our neighbors claimed that once in a while in a moonless night they have seen an apparition of a white lady. The white lady is supposed to protect the property from robbers and intruders. She is supposed to be the ghost of my mother-in-law who loved the beach resort and its gardens. The neighbors are scared of this apparition. So far, I have not seen this lady in the flowing white dress.
Have You Encountered Any of These Creatures?
Aswang Movies and Documentaries
There are several movies and documentaries about the aswang folklore and phenomena in the Philippines. My favorite movie was the first aswang movie made in 2008 starring Lovi Poe and Paulo Avelino. My favorite documentary is the Aswang Phenomena made by Jordan Clark in 2011.
Questions & Answers
Question: How is one supposed to know if a person is an aswang?
Answer: There is no scientific signs or behavior that an aswang possess during normal hours according to legends. They turned into aswang at night according to stories I heard from my grand parents.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 07, 2020:
I am glad you found my article interesting. Cheers!
Lorna from USA on February 06, 2020:
Such an interesting article! It reminds me of my childhood. I was scared to walk alone at night because of aswang.
Stansy on April 08, 2019:
Hello sir david, in your experience, haven't you heard of any group / organization who are focused on dealing with these type of creatures?
Have you had any personal experience with these types?
Before my personal enounters, i also did not believe. I also thought that these "stories" were also Made up by the elderly to scare the kids and make them come home / stay home when it is dark. However, Everything changed when i Personally encountered "it".
No one can explain the Wings i heard, the one Landing and walking in our roof,the voice calling me, the Very very sharp sound tapping of the windows, the Big shadow that moved in our ceiling.. there is Just no Logical explanation to all of these, except admit the fact that the one they say "aswang" with wings really exist. The priest not laugh at me, he did not tell me to go back home by myself, he went with me in our house and performed prayers and spirinkled holy water.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on April 08, 2019:
Hi Stansy, thank you for your detailed and interesting stories about your experiences with aswangs! I believe you although others may think your stories are just a fabrication of a crazy person. Have a great summer!
stansy on April 07, 2019:
just to continue...
Then I turned off the Lights of the hallway in the 2nd floor, Held the Holy water container, and the long scissors. I waited in the dark while looking outside. I wanted to see this creature and battle with it.
Then i heard a VERY SHARP or Pointed Object Hitting our window, Tick Tick Tick... Tick Tick.... Tick tick tick... Then I realized Oh shit,, It saw me already and knows my location and my plan... I ran to the computer room to my brother, scared, and he asked me why are you running? I said "The creature saw me", my brother said I am crazy. He still does not want to believe me because according to him this stuff is not true.
7th event: One night When we arrived from home, our house is very near the Guard house, from the landscape of our subdivision, if you are entering the guardhouse, you can see a good view of our roof. My mom did not turn on the light of the garage again that time, only at the back, but I looked closely at the roof that time, I saw a large dark object moved in the roof. I did not say this to my father because my eyes might not seen correctly, but I am alert. When my dad and I entered our house, when he turned on the Light inside our house, WE BOTH SAW A VERY DARK SHADOW VERY FAST MOVE in the ceiling light going upstairs. My dad was the 1st to react, he shouted "ANU YUN???? ANG LAKI NUN AH, Nakita mo ba yun??" (What was that?? That was Big?? Did you see that???) I said : of course Yes! Then I told my dad: I saw something in our roof move. A dark object. I think that is our visitor. I told him Lets go look from outside again using our emergency light. He agreed and we both looked from outside and pointed our emergency light in our roof. But we did not see anything. But we are both convinced "it" was there again. When we went to the 2nd floor we opened the Spotlight in the front. nothing. Then my dad said "oh well, we really cannot find this creature" , I said to him, "No, wait, I know where "it" is, I signaled to him to follow me. He followed me to the back part of our house, I opened the Spotlight of the back part of the house, then guess what? We both heard and felt the "THUUUUUUDDDDDDDDD", our ceiling vibrated again ofcourse. And I just smiled and said to my father "See". his eyes was shocked in suprise. He said "ah so this is where "it" was hiding , that is why we cannot see it."
8th encounter: It was morning, My dad and I woke up, we heard a VERY VERY VERY NOISY SOUND. An animal was crying like crazy, its like a pig being slaughtered but more more worse. My dad was looking outside our window, searching for the sound where it came from. it was like "EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEEEeeeee" "EEEEeeeeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEE" eEEEEEEeeeeEeeee that kind of sound. It was so Loud. Louder than our Aircondition. My dad asked me, did you hear it ? I said "yes". I opened the lights and looked at the time. guess what? 3 A.M. Sharp. Then I went outside our room, I looked for my mom, I called her, And asked her if she can hear the noise, she said Yes. And i asked her what are you doing, where are you? she said I am here, she was on our front door, looking outside, also looking for the sound.
We called the Guard house, We asked if they heard the Noise, Guess what??? They said they did not hear ANYTHING.
As i searched, these creatures have the ability to choose the people who will hear the sounds they make.
Anyway, after that my dad and I purchased a buntot ng Pagi (Tail of a Ray) . A hanged this Buntot ng pagi in the Big room. My dad warned me, even though I have the Buntot ng pagi, I should control myself and never confront the beast because he is afraid I will lose to the beast and be eaten. I realized he is correct and I have no match for the creature, anyway God is stronger than this creature, it has a place in Hell. The Devil is stronger than the creature, but the Devil is afraid of God. So what should I be afraid of??? So From then on I did not mind if there were weird sounds again. Then I did not hear from it again maybe because I decided to ignore it and "it" also grew tired of me.
8th encounter: My brother and i were ready to sleep in our room, with the air condition turned on. There was a loud "thud" in our roof, we both felt the vibration from the ceiling. I did not say anything. My brother asked me "Narinig mo yun?? anu yun????? " (Did you hear that, what was that???) I just told him "malamang narining ko, kaso diba baliw ako sabi mo?? sinung baliw sa atin ngayon?? (Of course I heard it, but remember you said I am crazy to believe in such myths???? So who is the crazy one now??? )
Well it is my 1st time I wrote my experience with this creature. I keep on sharing this story to my wife, she also says I am weird, Only my dad believes me. I am a businessman. A successful businessman. I am honest and I do many online Transactions. My customers send me money before I send the Items to them. And I have a 100% Good track record of being honest. I am also Smart, I graduated with honorable mention from DLSU and I am an distributor now. So you can guarantee I know what i am talking about.
For sure the church knows about the existence of these creatures, the priest did not laugh at me, he followed me and did his duty. I wonder what part of the church organization is doing their part to hunt these creatures??
Media is very stupid, and like my brother, they think they are intellectuals who says "these are all myths", All I can say is: to those intellectuals who say I am crazy: I AM MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN MOST OF YOU. I HAVE EARNED MORE MONEY THAN MOST OF YOU EVER WILL IN YOUR LIFETIME. AND I HAVE EARNED RESPECT OF MANY OTHER SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMEN. So I am not making a story. This is a true story. 100%. They are Real. For all the Media saying they are not real. You are all Bullshit. They exist. Do not hide the truth.
I am willing to help / join any Organization that deals with these types of monsters.
Share my story. They are true. Do not go to dark places with not much people. These creatures do exist. They are living among us. Do not be Stupid. Do not be naive. Be alert. Protect your loved ones.
What is bad is that we have a jail for criminals, but our society do not admit that there exist these type of creatures / bad elements, and it is our responsibility to also control the situation. Make sure they do not hurt any people. that is our True responsibility. WAKE UP PEOPLE.
stansy on April 07, 2019:
hello, I found this site and would like to share my personal experience with this flying creature / shape shifter.
this is a true story. I am telling my 100% detailed account of what happened to me. I am a businessman, And I do not lie. believe me. This is true.
I used to live in Paranaque, Southbay Gardens to be exact. this was maybe around year 2012 or 2013.
I am married now and have a son. But this experience I am going to share to you was when I was not yet married.
Again this are true story. So for all of you out there doubting if aswangs are real or not, I AM TELLING YOU. THEY ARE REAL. As real as us.
my 1st encounter: After playing basketball around 5:30pm, I arrived home, parked the car on our garage, the Househelp "katulong" closed the gate. Then I heard a dog crying as if there was a dog who is hurt, I kept looking outside our garage gate, but there was no dog. Then my katulong went to the wall of our neighbor and said "Ang Aga mo ah" (you are early), then I said to the katulong, Sino kausap mo? (Who are you talking to? ) she said to me, hindi mo narinig? (didn't you hear?) I asked her "Ang ano??? (What???) Then she said again "hindi mo narinig?" (didn't you hear it?) I said, I heard a crying dog, but i cannot see it. Then she said, that's it, and then she ran as fast as she could back to her room at the back of our house.
I thought she was Crazy. that was I thought...
2nd encounter: One night, we have a big bed in 1 of our room, My dad and I slept on this Big room, because he was sick and did not want to turn on the air condition. We just opened our sliding door window that night. it was still early, maybe around 10:30pm only. I heard a Loud Thud coming from our Roof. It was really heavy. Above our room I could hear and feel the vibration. Our house has 2 floors. this room is in the 2nd floor. Then my dad was already sleeping. I was awake. I was curious what could have landed and created that big vibration and sound. I thought : A Cat? no... it is too light to create that vibration... Then because our house is just along the MAIN Road of our subdivision, when cars passed by our house, the lights of the cars can be seen slightly on the ceiling of this room.
I heard something was walking in our roof. it was vibrating. it walked around 3 to 4 steps. then when a car passed by, it stopped walking, then when there was no car, it walked again. this happened maybe around 1 minute. Then I got scared thinking it was a burglar. I told my dad to wake up and told him somebody is in our roof. he said we need to check it out. We went downstairs, bring an emergency light then we called our guardhouse, said someone was walking in our roof. but we did not see anybody.
3rd encounter: After playing basketball again, one afternoon when I came home from basketball, I was really tired and all sweaty. My dad came home early that day, it was around 6- 6:30pm only, I was in the Big room with my brother, he was watching TV, and I was watching TV also, sitting in a chair, resting.
A voice called my name, the voice of my dad. "stanley....." then i did not respond or go see my dad because I was all sweaty, my dad is counting his daily sales, so he is in his office with the aircondition turned on. So I don't want to get sick, i don't want to enter his cold room when I am all sweaty. Then i just ignored. Then the voice called me again "stanley......." then, I did not say anything, my older brother said "putang ina mo, puntahan mo na, kanina ka pa tinatawag" ( *expletive* go to him, he has been calling you), then I did not say any word. Again, I did not say any word since the 1st voice called me. I was too tired from basketball. so I stood up and went to my dad's offce. I opened the his door very big and still did not enter his room because it was cold. Then my dad asked, "why are you here?", I said, you called me, then he said "i did not call you", I said "what??? my brother also heard you call me" my dad said, I did not call you i am counting money, why do i need to call you?? he said to me, are you sure you heard someone call your name? I said : yes, thats why i came to see him, he just told me Do not answer / respond again if i ever hear it again, he said it is possible that a ghost is fooling me. I went back to the big room, and my brother asked me "Oh bakit daw?? anu sabi ? (Why did he call you? what did he say) , I said to my brother, Dad said he did not call me. My brother said "putang ina, ang labo naman" (Expletive*, that's weird)
4th encounter: I left my mobile phone in our car, in our garage, my mom normally turns off the lights of our garage at night when we are all at home to save electricity as we are just in the Main road of our subdivision, we have street lights, and cars passby our house most of the time. That night I realized I left my mobile phone in the car, I decided to go down and get it, then My mom was carrying some dishes we had for dinner (we eat dinner at 2nd floor also), then as i was walking down the stairs, I heard 2 strokes of VERY BIG WINGS FLAPPING. They are very Big I am telling you. that made very solid sounds. imagine having a very big bed comforter, A very Big and High Quality Comforter. then flapping this comforter as if cleaning it, like removing the dust from it. This is what i heard. but only in a more SOLID version. like times 5x. "WHOOOG WHOOOG" "WHOOOG WHOOOOG". Like Mulawin "the TV show". I turned back to my mom because she was behind me in the stairs, I said "PUTANG INA! Ano yun????? (Expletive* What was that?????) You know what my mom reacted???? She said "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" That freaked me out more!!!! I said to her "Putang ina mom, anu yun??? bakit mo ako sinasabihan na "shhhhh", narining mo yun dba????" (Expletive* What was that???? Why are shhhh me??? you heard it right???) then she just said yes.
5th event : I am fully convinced now that the one which landed in our room was a creature. I connected all the events. from my househelp, the one that landed, the one that called my name, the one that flapped it wings.
I told this to my dad, and my dad knows me to be honest. he believes me. I am a former Student council president of my school. I have many friends because I am a good friend and nice person. So my dad knows I am telling the truth. I said to him : we have a visitor. The unclean and ugly one. He said, it is possible. I said to him, I will go find a priest and have our house blessed. He said to me : ok do this. As for him, he bought around 10 pcs rosary in have dipped in holy water in Baclaran church.
I went to a small church, goodwill village I think, then I talked to the priest, shared to him all my experience. He did not laugh at me. He only asked me one last question: are telling the truth? I said Ofcourse father I am telling the truth, why would i be here wasting my time talking to you if i am not saying the truth??? I said please come to my home, sprinkle some holy water and say some prayers. then I drove him to our house and he sprinkled holy water inside, outside, the house and on the 2nd floor.
He even saw the Bawang "Garlic" and Rosary hanging in our Windows. He said, "ang dami ah" (so many). I smiled at him. told him "nag iingat lang" (just being cautious). He even saw the plastic cups filled with Rock Salt in different areas around our house.
6th encounter: I was pissing in the CR of the big bedroom, around our house we have some trees, and when the wind is strong, you can hear the leaves of the trees rustle, because of the strong wind. Obviously it should be logical. but what happened was not logical. The Venetian blinds "blinds" (cover of the window) suddenly rised, and I heard a "whoog", BUT I DID NOT HEAR ANY RUSTLING OF LEAVES. So I knew "it" was there, getting my attention again.
I was so FED UP with "it" already. I wanted "it" to look at me face to face. I wanted to hurt it because it keeps on calling my attention. So what I did, I got the bottle of Holy water (1full alcohol container of Holy water with Sliced Garlic and Rock Salt, And I Long Scissor) And opened the Spotlights outside my house, 2 at the front and 2 at the back, ...
David B. Katague on April 06, 2019:
Hi Cathy, thank you for your feedback. Have a great day!
Cathy...Quezon City, Gloria 5 Sub Division. on April 04, 2019:
I have actual experience...One evening, recently a dog came visiting from nowhere....It was almost midnight, the dog was barking & howling from somewhere outside the house....We investigated but didn't know where the dog came from so ignored it & went back inside. Some time later we heard what we thought were footsteps just outside our front door, I looked out & saw the dog had returned & was trying to jump the fence....I shouted "Who are you" ? The dog turned & stared at me, it's eyes were glowing red.....My daughter came from the house with some salt which we threw at the dog, it ran off, but we then heard something in the night sky flying above us, something very big...The commotion had caused some of the neighbors to come out....We noticed that all the local dogs in the area were howling as though they had been spooked by something ? ? The experience was very frightening & I found the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, needless to say we did not sleep that night !
precy anza from USA on January 21, 2017:
Interesting read po! These topics always gets me. Reminds me of my dad's own aswang story back in his province. Thanks po for stopping by on my hub!
Mae-an on September 03, 2015:
I don't know if the aswang was attracted to my husband but he was sure it was after his baby sister at the time. I will ask my dad about Duenas. I grew up in Luzon and dad never talks about these kind of things.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on September 03, 2015:
I really appreciate your feedback on this. They say there are persons that the tik-tik and aswangs are attracted to, Perhaps your husband is one of them. Have you heard of the town Duenas in Iloilo famous for its aswangs residents?
Mae-an on September 03, 2015:
I really believe they are true since my my own husband had a close encounter with one. It was 1988 in Makati and hubby was only 13. His mom couldn't make it to the hospital, so she had no choice but give birth st home. Hubby was outside around 9 or 10 pm and the family dog started howling like a wolf. Next thing you know, he saw something flying with a really huge wings and hiding its face by the tree leaves. Husband saw a glimpse of the red eye and he didn't know what to do but pick up rocks and threw them as hard as he could. Thanks God, it went away. He never told his mom about the incident but the weird thing is, she never questioned him why he threw out the dog. He still calls that dog a traitor.
Another story, my dad was born in 1958 in Jaro. My dad always cried hysterically every night and according to my Lola, you can hear the wings flapping around midnight. Great-grandma advised them to move to Bacolod in which they did and dad started sleeping well.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on May 02, 2015:
Hello, ladyguitar picker, There are several Pinoy movies on this subject and they are entertaining and also scary. Cheers!
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on May 01, 2015:
Hi, My Italian grandmother use to tell me stories like that. These Mythical creatures would make nice Stephen King movies. Interesting hub. Stella
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on April 28, 2015:
Very interesting read and the video on Dystonia Parkinsonism is a good eye opener for those who believed in Aswang.
Have you seen Mikey Bustos' new video on Filipino Mythical Creatures Rap? It's on youtube...check it out! You should attach that as well on this hub. It's very entertaining. :)
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on April 09, 2015:
This was really interesting. Every country has its own folklore about supernatural beings. It is funny how some are similar in each country, yet some of so different and completely unique to a particular region.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on October 06, 2014:
Hi Mel, I like your word, McArthuresque for a substitute of the I Shall return phrase. Have a great night. First time I heard of that word
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 06, 2014:
Thank you sir. Hope to make a McArthuresque triumphant return someday.
David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on October 06, 2014:
Hi Mel, thanks a million for your feedback. If perchance your will be in the Philippines in the near future, perhaps you can visit Marindque. Just let me know.
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 06, 2014:
I have been to the Philippines 6 times in the Navy and I have several wonderful Filipino friends and neighbors here in San Diego. I feel a close bond with your people and these legends are fascinating to me. Great hub!