What is that sound late at night? Tik Tik. In the Western Visayan Region of the Philippines, the belief in aswangs prevail strongly among many people. Tik Tik is the sound that an aswang allegedly makes when it is stalking you. If the tik tik sounds far away, it is best to hitch up your pants and head for safety among other people because that far away sound is a decoy. The aswang is very near! Are you scared yet?
Superstitions and supernatural beliefs are a very important part of the Filipino Culture. With many islands and 3 main regions of the archipelago, there are thousands of local superstitions, beliefs and colorful folklore. My connection with the Philippines has been for the last 27 years and hardly a day has gone by that I did not see or hear the paranormal traditional beliefs among Filipinos during my daily undertakings. At least somewhere down the road!
There has been much written over the years about aswangs in the Philippines and there is much information available online. However, if you talk to local people in the Western Visayas, everyone seems to have their own perception about an aswang. Some also refer to aswangs in English as ghouls, witches and vampires. People agree that an aswang can transform into animals and even objects. By day, the awang appears as a normal person, only with bloodshot eyes and peculiar mannerisms. People think that most aswangs are either elderly women or young, beautiful women but there reportedly are male aswangs. Aswangs allegedly enjoy eating children, women and the fetus of pregnant women but men can also fall prey.
According to the folklore, aswangs sometimes abduct people and have the ability to make a replica of them so they can send them back home to their family. Once back home, they soon become ill and die. When a normally healthy person becomes ill and dies suddenly, some family members immediately raise the aswang theory. The deceased family member is buried in the tomb feet first to prevent them from easily walking out of the tomb as an aswang.
Aswangs are a popular conversation topic at coffee shops, sari sari stores and turo-turo restaurants. Many people carry garlic in their pockets, as it is thought that garlic repels aswangs. Unfortunately, some people not well liked in the community often have the rumor spread about them that they are an aswang.
Recently, a family friend told us of hitting a large black dog in the road while driving and the dog limped away into a sugarcane field. The next day, a man believed by many as being an aswang was limping badly as he walked!
The good friend of one of my sisters in law suddenly became ill and she died suddenly last year. A family member told everyone that the young woman had been the victim of an aswang. During the first night of the young woman's wake, a pig appeared suddenly and began running around in the yard. People were also running for cover! The pig did not harm anyone but people said the pig was a transformed aswang.
In sharing these stories about the aswang in the Philippines, I would like to clarify that I am not ridiculing Filipinos for their personal beliefs in the supernatural or for their superstitions. In fact, such legends and folklore of aswangs and other supernatural occurrences have long been a personal interest of my own. Psychology was my major and I studied several advanced university Parapsychology courses in the USA. I wrote an academic paper in 1981 about Americans who had out of the body experiences, had seen ghosts, claimed demon possession and allegedly had a sixth sense. The Philippines is not the only country with legends, myths, folklore and personal beliefs in the paranormal and supernatural. The USA also has many.
I have never seen an aswang or been bothered by one and I do not expect to. The folklore about the aswang is a very interesting aspect of the Philippine Culture and it is another reason why living here is so exciting. Everyday unfolds a new adventure!