An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a ghoul in Filipino folklore.
The myth of the aswang is popular in the Western Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo and Antique.Other entities were also said to roam on forests in provinces.
The trademark or major feature of Aswangs which distinguish them from other Filipino mythological creatures is their propensity to replace stolen cadavers with the trunk of a banana tree carved in the cadaver's likeness.
They are also said to like to eat small children. Their favourite body parts are the liver and heart, and they are known to be viscera suckers.
Sometimes aswang is the generic term applied to all types of mythological creatures, ghosts, manananggals, shapeshifters, witches and monsters. Though the aswang is often confused with manananggal, they are different creatures. There are also characteristics and features that the Aswang also varies from Filipino to Filipino. Aswang comes from the dreams of sex.
Western Visayas region of Capiz is the subject or focus of many aswangs, and other types of mythological creatures such as ghosts (multo), goblins, ghouls, manannagal, witches (mangkukulam), giant horse men (tikbalang) and other stories, often covered by national tabloids.
Capiz is rumoured to have a number of aswangs and covens of witches Superstitious folk who believe in their existence can still be found in these parts. They typically adorn windows, rooms, etc. with garlic bulbs, holy water, etc. which supposedly repels these creatures.
Aswangs have the ability to transform into other shapes as for a dog, a bat and/or a snake.
Aside from entertainment value, mothers are said to tell their children stories about aswangs to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night. Similar to Count Dracula of Transylvania in Vampire stories, the most popular characters are the clan of Teñente/ Tenyente/ Tiniente Gimo, in Dueñas, Iloilo.
How to recognize an aswang
It is said that an Aswang can be revealed, with the use of a bottle of a special oil made from coconut and mixed with certain plant stems upon which special prayers were said. When an Aswang comes near or walks outside the house at night, the oil is supposed to boil and continue boiling until the aswang leaves the area. They are also said to abhor garlic.
Incidents and tabloids
Aswang stories are one of the favourites in unreliable sensationalist tabloids, especially when there are grave robberies, child kidnappings, people with eccentric or peculiar habits and other incidents that can somehow be attributed to them. There are also quite a number of superstitious people, in the provinces mentioned who believe in their existence.
Other local names, especially in Capiz, include the above mentioned tik-tik and wak-wak.