Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Aswang Bestiary

When I was a little child I learnt a lot about the various monsters and fantastical creatures that roam the landscape of the Hiligaynon imagination. Some creatures are weird, some are gruesome and some are fantastical. Here are a few of them :

1. Aswang - the generic aswang is either a beautiful lady or an old crone who lives alone. Stories abound wherein a person is waylaid by an aswang. Usually they appear as a woman with long hair, reddish eyes, a clawed hand and a well oiled skin. Their method of stalking prey is scary. They let their presence known to their victim by emitting a staccato sound not unlike 'tiki-tik-tik ... tiki -tik'. Once the victim hears this sound fear usually gripped him or her and would be wary of the surroundings. The aswang doesnt show herself or himself at first. She lets the fear settle on the victim's heart and mind. If the victim has a very weak will or 'dungan', the terror grips him and may lose his way. The aswang also employ illusions (bagat) that will further confuse and terrorize the victim. When the opportune momentcomes the aswang will grapple and attack the victim who by this time is totally confused and helpless with fear.

2. Maranhig - a maranhig is the dead that refuses to be buried or a person who doesnt know that he is already dead and continues to abide with the living. They are zombies in other words. They are an inconvenience or a nuisance to the community. Food are prone to grow stale or inedible in the presence of such a creature. Maggots will appear in cooked rice. A maranhig's form of attack is by tickling people to death. If one is attacked by a maranhig one should throw water on it as it will turn into a heap of white maggots. However once the maggots are all dried they will reassemble into the maranhig. To permanently stop one they should be buried face down so that in case they try to crawl their way out again they will be facing in the wrong direction.

3. Mantiw - mantiws are giant skeletons that dwell by the coast or by the banks of rivers. They will attempt to capsize any small fisherman's boat that they fancy. I only heard one story about these creatures.