Growing up in the Philippines offers you the privilege of hearing many strange told as true ghost stories and tales of real vampires. These are often of weird half human creatures, monsters and witches that prey upon the living and cannot be destroyed. One might wonder if some creatures of paranormal lines might just be the same monsters only carrying different names as to the region it is found it. But many who live their will certainly disagree with yo and correct you. Any person who has lived or grown up in the small villages or large cities will certainly tell you they are not all the same with just different names as to the region. And of course the terrible Wak Wak is not your common variety vampire-like being by any means. The Philippines does have a few versions of Vampires or blood sucking monsters other then aswangs. And some of their Vampires s and their actions share similarities with Malay Vampires. But they are far removed from what the europeon cultures calls the nosferatu, the living dead or undead.
There are many references to Ghosts in Filipino culture and thier effects on the living often are vampire like in thier actions. The ghost or paranormal beliefs, legends and stories are of course as diverse as the people of the Philippines.
The aswang as many will tell you is more like a living ghost or undying phantom or immortal witch. It possess great occult knowledge and can as many say ruin those whose lives they may cross with. The creatures are known as having wipped out prestigious family lines out of existance just on a personal whim.
An "ASWANG" is always described as a vampire like creature, it can be male or female, often possessing great supernatural magical or occult powers far beyond those of the normal europeon type of living dead.
The Aswang are said to be the sole masters of many a familiar.
Pierre A. Riffard proposed this definition and quotations "A familiar spirit (alter ego, doppelgänger, personal demon, personal totem, spirit companion) is the double, the alter-ego of an individual. It does not look like the individual concerned. Even though it may have an independent life of its own it remains closely linked to the individual. The familiar spirit can be an animal (animal companion)."
Dictionnaire de l’ésotérisme, Paris: Payot, 1983, 132 ; Nouveau dictionnaire de l’ésotérisme, Paris: Payot, 2008, 114-115.
They are the said owners of the creatures known as the Bal-Bal, Tik Tik, Wak Wak or Soc Soc. Aswang's might send these evil foul blood sucking creatures out to do thier dirty work when situation necssisate thus causing the aparent confusion. In some cases they are identified as the aswang rather then a seperation of attributes or identity depending on the Phillippine district your are in at the time. An Aswang might own or control or send a familiar such as a Wak Wak to do it's bidding, such as collecting body parts, organs and blood from living persons and animals to use in spells or to help it survive. They may also send the creature to exact a terrible revenge on those that have tried to destroy them in the past. This may be done by killing ones pets, livestock, or family members. Aswang's are known also to be able to wait several years even decades upon decades before unleashing their wak waks's malevolence, measure for measure on thier victims. The aswang is believed in some regions to be able to own up to a one hundred or more of these blood sucking monsters at a time. And some stories tell that female or male aswang are known to have even mated with humans or animals only to produced these evil incarnate offspring with the eternal intelegence of a small child.
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 that often confuse it with the creature not the beasts that include "tik-tik", "wak-wak" and "soc-soc" rather then their familiars.
Many state that once transformed a aswang possesses 10 to 12 foot wings similar to those of the bat, and they eat human flesh. Other stories relate that they use this lust to perpetuate the pacts they have made with the devil. Meaning to say that the creature might live in the day as a beast of burden or a small pet until it transforms into it's real persona.
A story I heard in recent years is of a friends grandfather who lived in Dumangas. The man who wore powdered ginger and ginger root with many other local ingrdients including the coins and rosary around his neck in pouch to detur these monsters. The man is said to have been attacked by a wak wak one night which was sent to him by an evil aswang that he refused to marry in her human form.
The wak wak creature he said decended upon him and the claws of the huge feet dug deep into his flesh riiping him open and cutting his neck and shoulders. The beast then flapped it's great wings trying to lift him off the ground into the night. Sudenly then it got a good wiff of the ginger and in the same motion of grabbing him it collapsed on top of him, with both falling to the ground. The creature in shock then ran clumsley into the brush along side of the road screaming as if in pain as it tried to fly but could not. The man ran all the way home after the incedent.
Tales like these of people escaping the creatures are ot uncommon especically if you live in area where they are known and seen quite often , or the tales of them have lasted over the past few hundred years. Superstitions about these creatures is a well known fact an Dumangas is alleged to have hundreds of aswangs and wak-wakk, or soc soc or tik tik's as they are refered too. And over the years living in the area taunting and devouring the living and the dead.
The city of Dumangas was known as Araut until 1605. The town is home to one of the oldest standing churches in the Visayas it is considered Holy ground and is where many believe the creatures fear to tread. It is where the Spanish Agustinian missionaries of the Catholic Church began converting the indigenous population at the time to Christianity. There are many stories as how the town acquired its name, however the consensus is that which can be attributed to the mango trees that are abundant in this part of Panay island and this is where it is said the monsters of the night live and congregate. The myth of the "Aswang" is popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, specially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, and Antique. Mothers are said to tell their children "Aswang" stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night. The most popular characters are the clan of Teñente/ Tenyente/ Tiniente Gimo of the town of Dueñas, Iloilo.
An aswang usually disguises itself as a regular town sperson (male or female) by day and prefer an occupation related to raw meat or human flesh, such as butchery, medicine, cooking or making sausages. Aswangs have an ageless appearance and a quiet, shy and elusive manner. They can be distinguished from humans by two signs. One is the bloodshot eyes from staying up all night looking for opportunities to sneak into houses where funeral wakes are being held, and stealing the dead bodies. second is the fact they avoid mirrors.
According to the many stories one hears, the Aswang can also transform from human to animal and even into inanamte objects such as furnishings, trees or common household items to avoid detection. The Aswang can disguise him/herself as a pig, dog or a black bird with a evil glare in it's red eyes. Supposedly if a person looks at them in the eyes, the reflection would appear inverted. During their nocturnal activities, they walk are desribed as being seen with their feet facing backwards and toenails reversed.
Aswang's" are often described as a combination of ghost vampire and witch. They are sometimes used as a generic term applied to all types of witches, vampires, manananggals, shape shifters, therianthropes, and monsters in general. Aswang stories and definitions vary greatly from region to region and person to person, so no one particular set of characteristics can be ascribed to the term. However, the term is often used interchangeably with manananggal, which is a particular creature with a specific set of features. They are often portrayed as a monster with wings which flap loudly when she's far away and quietly when she's nearer. The most popular original definition however, is that it is a bal-bal (maninilong in Catanauan, Quezon), an eater of the dead. After consumption, the bal-bal replaces the cadaver with banana trunks.
The Wakwak or Wak Wak by traditional definition is a vampire, bird-bat like creature in Philippine mythology or believed by some yo be another name just for an aswang that is to be a witch transformed into a large evil blood drinking bird. Many others equate it to a Sigbin or infamous chupacabra. More animal then human. It is said that it snatches humans, pets and livestock at night as prey and carries them away to be devoured alive or used in black magic spells. Many who live in the islands contend that a "Wakwak" is a living ghost vampire or undiscovered Philippine chupacabra like cryptid night bird or bat that is sometimes described as an intelligent paranormal ghost-like creature, or that often more so a basic owned imp or specific familiar to a unknown witch.
The manananggal (sometimes confused with the Wak Wak in some areas by the Filipinos) is a mythical creature of the Philippines. It resembles a Western vampire, in being an evil, man-eating monster or witch. The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic and salt.They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Different regions have different stories on how manananggals proliferate. One story relates that manananggals have 2-3 dozen black chicks living in their throats, which provide them with their power. A manananggal cannot die until the one special first chick is removed, which can be done by smoking the manananggal upside down in a tree or spinning her until she vomits the chick. The chicks are said to be the dreaded wakwak. And one black chick must live in the throat at all times to keep the creature alive until more are produced. The one special or magical wak wak chick is said to be inside the manananaggal through out it's entire existence where is the others are expelled whe the throat is overcrowded.
The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal and wak wak stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls and aswangs.
A wak wak might chew off someones nose, lips, ears, oes and fingers as they sleep as a small repayment, or in direct reprisal serve a bloody long retribution of killing off everyone a person they love or just happens to know or be acquainted with in passing. The creature has been known to return to a pen where livestock is kept and with a ruthlessness blood lust kill the animals one by one over a short period of time. This of course until the Aswang gets it's personal satisfaction, or spitefulness is fulfilled. This tit for tat type of vengeance of the dead creature is often fought with counter measures but to no avail.
One story I was told as a small child of how a very evil aswang's ghost sent a wak wak from beyond the grave to taunt and destroy the family line of all those in a tagalong village that had destroyed it. The magical powers of the aswang creature are said to transcend death unless properly dispatched. And this aswang was not killed in the traditional fashion or tried and true methods as needed. As the story goes the entire village was wiped off the map. True are not many tales of such or often told throughout many cities and small towns.
A manananggal is described as being a hideous, scary vampire-like creature (as opposed to an aswang), capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat-like wings to prey on unsuspecting, pregnant women in their homes; using an elongated proboscis-like tongue, it sucks the hearts of fetuses or the blood of an unsuspecting, sleeping victim. It is known to whip its hair in urban forests, causing hurricanes all over the globe.
The severed lower torso is left standing, and it is said to be the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt or smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin and will die at daybreak. The name of the creature originates from sinalalala used for a severed torso: manananggal comes from the Tagalog tanggal (cognate of Malay tanggal), which means "to remove" or "to separate". Manananggal then means "the one who separates itself" (in this case, separates itself from its lower body). It is a saying that a manananggal's attack can be avoided by death. The most prominent characteristic of a manananggal is its ability to dispatch its torso from its legs.
Another story says that heredity or contamination by physical or supernatural means can turn someone into a manananggal. For example, contaminating someone's meal with an old manananggal's saliva or human flesh can pass it on. A third story relates that a girl who later became a manananggal confided in her human boyfriend that she felt the urge to eat sick people's sputum
The encountering of a Wakwak is usually associated with the presence of an Unglu (vampire) or Ungo (ghost or monster) or aswang. It is also believed that this monster is called a "Wakwak" due to this very odd sound it makes when it flaps its great leathery wings while flying through the night. When one hears the strange waking or slapping sounds that the Wak-wak makes when it is looking for it's possible victims. If the sound of the Wakwak is very loud or seems close, it means it is far away from you. Otherwise, if the noise is far away sounding this means it is near and worse yet, it is about to attack you.
The Wakwak is often described by small village islanders to have many different physical and magical attributes and characteristics. It is said to have large orange red eyes the size of baseballs that can mesmerize or cause it's victim to be paralyzed in fear. Similar to what is believed about a chupacabra or as known in the Philippines as a sigbin in it's actions and blood lust habits. In actual accounts, the Sigbin or Sigben is a creature that roams in the night to suck the blood of its victims from their shadows. Be it man or animal it shows no distinctions in its prey.
Some people claim the wak wak's large eyes have the ability to hypnotize and paralyze their prey—leaving the person or animal mentally stunned, allowing the chupacabra like creature to suck blood at its leisure. The effect is similar to the bite of the south american vampire bat, or of certain snakes or spiders that stun their prey with a hideous venom. Unlike conventional predators, these chupacabra like creatures sucks all the animal's blood (and sometimes organs).
The Sigbin looks like a hornless goat with big ears that can clap like a pair of hands. Its tail is so long and flexible that it can be used as a whip. Typically, the Sigbin walks backwards, lowering its head between its hind legs to stay hidden from other creatures particularly humans. Sigbins also are known to give off disgusting odor.
In the Eastern Visayas, the creature is also known as the Amamayong. Other countries have reports or urban legends of similar creatures, known as chupacabra.
Some tales told tell that a wakwak slashes and mutilates its victims and feeds on their hearts. Others might relate that it drains it's victims of all their blood and steals specific organs to take back and feed it's young or to the witch (aswang) that owns it or controls it's actions by magical means.
Many disappearances and unaccountable missing persons or often attributed to these monsters prowling the night. It's range of adeptness in seeking out persons are likened to the ability to taste a family lines blood relatives no matter what city or distant land they might live in. The uncanny ability is likened to that of a bloodhound tracking it's desire by scent. Some say once the creature is dispatched no matter how faintly you are related as long as that blood is inn your veins it will find you.
Some descriptions say it has large bird-like feet with long sharp talons and a pair of wings similar to those of a bat. In a few cases it is described as having both arms and wings. Many say that its wings edges are also sharp as a knife or razor and can sever the head of it's prey in one quick motion with them. It's actual size is that of a 8-10 year old child, 3-4 feet tall weighing about 70 - 80 pounds, and it is as strong as 5 men. Some other accounts describe it as a overly large black evil bird creature that has no beak or bill just a large gaping mouth of sharp fangs. With a long whip like tail and quills or long spines running down it's back. In many accounts it uses its sharp bird like talons or claws to slash its victims chests open, or heads to get their brains or heart.
The term wak-wak or wuk-wuk is frequently used for the same creature in the Cebu region. The legends of the wak-wak and tiktik(tik tik) are somewhat much the same, but the wak-wak is specifically supposed to be also a shape shifter and can change into many forms, its birdlike form is most common. It is also said to be able to take human for much like a aswang and also by leaving behind its lower body, much like the Manananggal. The tik-tik looks for a pregnant person. Then extends a very long proboscis into the womb and licks the baby to kill it. While performing, a 'tik-tik' sound is heard.
The Sigbin or Sigben, aswang (sometimes believed to be a witch vampire transformed, Ekek (or Ek Ek) are also all vampire like night creatures. They sometimes appear as winged-humans who search for victims at night. They hunger for flesh and blood. They are usually described by old folks as flying creatures that look like the Manananggal but are unable to divide or split their body. Apart from the Manananggal, they are also associated to the Wak Wak because of some similar characteristics. The only difference between a Wak Wak and Ekek is that Ekek has a bill like birds whereas the Wak Wak has none.
The Ekek can transform into a huge bird/bat at night and prowls. Similar to the Manananggal, the Ekek looks for sleeping pregnant women. Then it extends a very long proboscis into the womb and kills the fetus by draining its blood. It is said that while this is taking place, a "ek-ek-ek" sound is often heard. The Ekek fools people into thinking it is far by producing a faint sound when it is actually near the same as the Wak Wak.
A Philippine version of Vampire Native, common in Visayan mythology and folklore, particularly among Hiligaynon speaking groups. Looks very similiar as that of a human expect that it has longer upper canines.
For Aswangs who were not successful in transfering their monstrosity, they rise from their graves to killing humans by bitting their necks hence, becoming into Amalanhig.
The Langsuir or Langsuyar is a Malay vampire that originates from women who had laboring sickness (meroyan) as a result of suffering the death of their children and who themselves died afterwards. The langsuir appears as a woman with long nails and flying black hair. She may also shapeshift into a night owl with long claws. Just like the pontianak, the Langsuir also sucks the blood of living infants. The Langsuir can be stopped or, more precisely, 'domesticated 'if the right means are adopted. For if you are able to catch her, cut short her nails and luxuriant tresses, and stuff them into the hole in her neck, she will become tame and indistinguishable from an ordinary woman, remaining so for years. Cases have been known, indeed, in which she has become a wife and a mother, until she was allowed to dance at a village merry-making, when she at once reverted to her ghostly form, and flew off into the dark and gloomy forest from whence she came.
Filipinos also believed in the Dila (The Tongue), a spirit that passes through the bamboo flooring of provincial houses, then licks certain humans to death.
In Philippine mythology, a Bal-Bal is a monster that steals corpse whether it is in a funeral or grave and feeds on them. It has a strong sense for dead human bodies and for them, it is a very fragrant object. It also has very sharp claws and teeth enough to rip clothing of the dead. Since it eats nothing but corpse, it has a foul breath. Once this monster spotted and snatched the corpse, it will leave a trunk of a banana tree in the coffin creating an illusion of the stolen body to trick people.
Bal-Bal was also associated to Aswang, Amalanhig, and even to Busaw, whish were all flesh eater. They were classified to one of the most fearful creatures in the Philippines because of their appearance. They were even described and compared to the vampire of the western continents.
Busaw is a legendary creature that resembles humans in appearance and behavior, raising farm animals and planting root crops. However, its favorite food is human, resulting in scattered human skeletons on the grounds of its dwelling place. The Busaw was a ghoul and corpse thief. An evil spirit who looked and behaved like ordinary human beings by day, it listened for sounds of death in the evenings, and dwelled in large trees near cemeteries. It had pointed teeth, hooked nails and a long tongue. It took banana tree trunks to replace the dead as it stole the corpses out of their coffins. Then, spiriting the corpse off after first turning it into a pig, the Busaw would feast on it and even try to feed it to their human neighbors during the day in order to turn them into ghouls like itself. To ward the Busaw off, all corpses should be washed completely with vinegar and strong-smelling herbs. Salt is also a busaw repellant.
Many truth misconceptions and made up tales often will relate how to dipatch an aswang or a Wak Wak. Stingray's tail or Buntot Pagi using it as a whip is said to keep them at bay bu not destroy them. Though many will certainly tell you these creatures cannot be fully or totally destroyed or dispatched.
Some fillipono tales will reccomend carrying a small red pouch full of Ginger, odd bent coins and a blessed rosary this they say will 100% if used stop them from attcking you. Ginger keeps them away from you becuse the smell is said to be caustic to them and weakens them. If these two creatures get a good strong wiff of ginger while flying it is said they will fall from the sky and not be able to fly again for a few days. The coins and blessed rosary prevents them from being able to lifting you up into the sky.
A good way to escape from a Amalanhig, run in zigzag direction as an Amalanhig can but only walk in straight direction as their body is stiff. High places out of their reach or climbing of tress as well as lakes and waters are also suggested as Amalanhig are scared of deep bodies of waters.
Salt and bleesed objects can be used on them and it will in some cases frighten them away or cause their skin to burn. Human semen is said to irritate them and phallic objects will terrify the female Aswang. Other things like Shiny sterling silver swords or believed to have some effects on them as well. Mirrors are believed to be the best way for keeping them out of your home or room. the aswang is said to be revolted by it's creature like appearence. A sure sighn that a person is a aswang is that they own no irrors or reflective objects for if they peer into one they will see their true image and loose some of their powers for a time.
Typically, an aswang is revealed by using a bottle of a special oil extracted from boiled and decanted coconut meat and mixed with certain plant stems upon which special prayers being said. When an aswang comes near or roams around the house at night, the oil is said to boil (or froth into bubbles) and continue boiling until the aswang departs.
Throwing salt at aswang's and wak waks is also said to cause their skin to burn and bubble much as the europeon vampire curls and burns from holy water and sunlight. This belief may stem from the purifying powers attributed to salt crystals by various traditions of witchcraft. Throwing semen at aswang is also said to irritate them.
During the full moon, the Aswang or Mananangal would go to a secluded area to split itself into half and hunt for victims. A manananggal has a half monstrous, banshee type upper torso and head and it separates itself from its lower half (the torso) It is said if one finds its torso, to either sprinkle salt or sand on its lower half body or burn it, making it impossible for the creature to revert/ transform. And would die upon the first rays of sunlight. They say that you can determine if another human being is an aswang if you see your own reflection in their eyes as upside down.
he Alan are deformed spirits from the folklore of the Tinguian tribe of the Philippines. They have wings, and their fingers and toes point backwards. The Alan are said to take drops of menstrual blood, miscarried fetuses, afterbirth, or other reproductive waste and transform them into human children, whom they then raise as their own. They live near springs in extremely fine houses, made of gold and other valuables.
Basic Legend A Tinguian was once walking along a trail in the woods when he heard a strange sound in a large tree near him, and looking up he was startled to see that it was the home of the Alan-spirits who live in the wood. He stopped and gazed for a moment at the horrible creatures, large as people, hanging from the limbs of the tree with their heads down like bats. They had wings to fly, and their toes were at the back of their feet, while their long fingers, which pointed backward, were fastened at the wrist. "Surely," thought the man, "these terrible beings will eat me if they can catch me. I will run away as fast as I can while they are asleep." He tried to run but he was too frightened, and after a few steps he fell face down on the ground. At this the Alan began to wail loudly, for they saw him fall and believed him dead. They came down out of the tree with gold and beads which they laid on him. After a while the man gathered courage and, jumping up, he cried as loudly as he could, "Go away!" The Alan did not move, but they looked at him and said: "Give us the one bead nagaba [a peculiar bead of double effect], and you may have the rest." When the man refused to do this, they were angry and turned away, crying, "Then we are going to burn your house, for you are a bad man." Thereupon the man went home as fast as he could go, but very soon after that his house burned, for the Alan kept their word. And then...This Alan creature passed his legacy on to those that came forth and were worthy creatures of the gift. So, from generation to generation the Alan creatures can be seen.
Ramos, Maximo D. (1971). Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. Philippines: University of the Philippines Press.
Tiempo, Edilberto K.. The Witch Meek, James (2005-12-07).
Mga Engkanto: A Bestiary of Filipino Fairies. Philippines: eLf ideas Publication. 2003.
Please also see: