The Aswang Phenomenon

The Aswang Phenomenon

2011, Mystery  -   44 Comments
Ratings: 6.88/10 from 77 users.

It is estimated that up to 80% of the provincial population of the Philippines believes that the bogeyman is real. They call it the "Aswang." It has been among them for centuries but became truly horrifying after Spanish colonizers enforced the Christian beliefs onto the indigenous people. It comes in many manifestations and performs violent acts against anyone who crosses its path. Is this creature just a myth or are there some elements of truth to these stories of the Aswang?

The director, Jordan Clark, was first introduced to the Aswang through a movie made in 1994 in which the Aswang took up residence in rural Wisconsin. Six years later he made his first visit to the Philippines. Like many tourists he spent time in the metropolitan areas, did some shopping, traveled around in the local and abundant transportation, and relaxed on some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. He visited only a few of the thousands of islands and met just a handful of the 97 million people living there.

The Philippines is 83% Catholic and having been raised Catholic Jordan understood the strict moral and family values that most Filipinos display. What he didn't understand was their superstitions. He started watching any Philippine folklore movie he could get his hands on and he was again introduced to the Aswang. This creature seemed able to do anything. It could transform into animals, fly, cast magic spells, heal itself and really didn't seem to need a specific food source... pregnant women, the sick or children.

Jordan went back to the Philippines to film his interpretation of their folklore. When he finished the movie he realized that without the generalized understanding and acceptance of the Aswang, like many Filipinos have, the movie didn't make sense, so he again tried to answer this lingering question: What is an Aswang?

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44 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Terry Medina

    In the Visayan region, is the island of Siquijor. Of the 7000+ Philippine islands, humans inhabit approximately 1,100. But only Siquijor is well known for "black magic" called anting-anting.

    My grandfather was born in Siquijor in 1900. My elders have shared many stories about anting-anting and I believe it to be true.

  2. markus

    every culture in the history of earth has these sorts of stories and legends that help explain evil in a God-centric environment.

    bcuz never forget...evil has to be explained right? otherwise, why hasn't God poofed it out of existence?

  3. Debra sparks

    Not any sillier than us Americans believing in 'Bigfoot'.

  4. mike m

    this is nothin'

    goons belive in trump over here

    1. Jay Makak

      Apparently,it is the goons who don't believe in Trump,that appear so rediculous.He is the U.S. president ,man.Grow up.Gary Johnson didn't even know what Aleppo meant. Jill stein,well she just took your money and dissappeared like flatulance in a wind storm,eh?
      Unless you wanted that idiot who,along with Obama,totally destabilized the Middle East.You do know they have human slavery in Libya now right,goon??

    2. Marta

      god you ever hear of a space bar my dude?

  5. In Understanding I Seek...

    A fictional novel engaged me to research this topic - Aswang - and an ongoing curiosity of life, in general, always challenges me to follow-thru. While the side discussions that arise can be oddly entertaining, I read thru all comments in the hopes of learning of the various opinions, personal encounters and stories that various cultures (regionally and otherwise) have passed down through generations on the specific subject matter being presented within the article. Sadly, only a few individuals responded on the subject matter directly. I want to form my own opinions, over time, seeking others insight, perspective, and in-person experiences. To me, there is no better treasure to seek than advancing my own knowledge of this life and beyond. Nothing else matters, but what I seek to educate myself. I need to be open to all life's experiences. Explore what I do not understand. I try to move forward with curiosity; an understanding that some things will never make sense, and that's okay. To discount anything in life, simply because of personal disbelief, is truly unconsciousable. There is no limit to what, we, as humans, can do. Can seek to learn. Can seek to understand. If so, our life becomes stagnant; will not evolve any further, in any way. Our race was born to move forward in curiosity, aways seeking, never stopping. Enough said. Now, can we get back to the topic of the aswang? Are there any others who will share their stories?

  6. mycial

    Once again, when Christianity lands on any continent this beast must befriend & smile at the people. To transform into a loving & kind organization, so that you may tell this beast "Christianity" all of your secrets. Then replace it with a blonde blue eyed beast & tell you if you don't believe your going to be thrown into a lake of fire but wait Jesus loves you. This form of MASS MIND CONTROL needs to be thrown into a lake of fire & send it back to hell. The only way to control sheeple is through fear. This had NEW WORLD ORDER written all over it.

  7. Mina Lynn Atri

    It's a sad irony that the Aswang, a mythology born in the Philippines and unique to the Filipino culture alone, was not only one of the few aspects of early culture in the region to survive the constant shifts in power and influences brought on by outsiders but was hijacked by those same outsiders to use as a tool for manipulation and control. This documentary was absolutely fascinating, and while I could go on for days with questions I know won't be answered and notes on the eerie similarities the Aswang origin stories share with other culture's personified symbols of evil (the Djinn for example)…I won't do that to those of you who already took the time to read this much of my two cents.

  8. Leon De Dios

    I am from the Philippines. I believe in aswang. It is part of our
    colorful culture. But we have more scary creatures than the aswang and they all live in the congress and the senate. Like the aswang siphoning blood and eating their victim's internal organs, these politicians do the same to the poor Filipino people. They siphon all the tax money from us.

    1. James O

      Congressional vampires exist everywhere!

  9. davidlfos

    Fascinating psycho-social history. Addresses a number of anthropological topics with skill and insight ~ negotiating deep and complex issues with a fine sensibility. Clever film, well put together, exemplary Canadian fare.

    1. Guest

      well said

  10. Clark Bent

    The mind's eye is a most beautiful enigmatic thing. But like anything beautiful it is also deadly. If you believe you can, simply you can and vice-a-versa if you believe you can't. Heaven and hell are a perspective like truth and lies. We cannot prove the existence of god or the existence of souls. Yet philosophically it is also true that we cannot prove any truth with absolute certainty except that we are a thinking thing - "I think therefore I am" Descartes. Everything we see and interpret is based on the paradigms of our belief system which is limited by our self centred designs to make sense of our own desires and project them onto the world.

  11. kelly kass

    Life does not end once our bodies die, what I believe happened here was these beings including human entinties thrive on energy, energy from human emotions.
    There are positive beings and negative beings. I'm thinking negative beings were drawn to these people because of their fear of this "Aswang". They gorge off the energy of human fear. They promote situations that will heighten their fear of the "Aswang" thus to absorb all that energy.
    What we all need to understand is we are ultimately in control of our higher self. Once you realize you are the one in control, the fear greatly reduces until these beings move onto another source of energy.

  12. Maxime

    I wonder if people from Philipines also see UFOs?

  13. jaberwokky

    I almost didn't watch this one because of previous experience with similar docs - docs which consisted of pointed, ridiculing and ill informed rhetoric that verged on racist sneering ( oh those stupid savages, they don't know how we're saving them ) - but I must say this one struck me as fairly balanced, well researched, informative and gladly lacking in empty polemic and theatrical musical effects, which is always a relief.

    I also had no idea there are so many beaches in the Philippines or how beautiful looking they are.

  14. Lauri Neva

    This is Satanism and related to hell and the devil. No good Catholic would believe or partake here.

    1. Horst Manure

      It is just another form of religion..been around for 1,000 of yrs and always will be.

    2. fnertz

      A really good thing I'm not a catholic then!

      John 8:7 - "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

      You just threw a stone. Are you without sin, sir?

    3. Lauri Neva

      We are all sinners fool! Every read Catholic doctrine? We are forgiven, all for the asking in concession! A great deal I think. Enjoy eternity in Hell!

    4. jaberwokky

      Do you ever get embarrassed displaying your ignorance in public?

      Edit: Happy imaginary son of a sky daddy birthday day.

    5. Pysmythe

      I doubt it... And even if he did, I'm sure he could figure out how it was all the fault of the evil Joos, somehow.

    6. jaberwokky

      Yup, 100% of everything wrong in the history of eternal infinity plus one is directly attributable to the Joos and their disbelief in a divine zombie. If it weren't for those meddlers then sh1t would be cool ;)

      Edit: Happy zombie birthday by the way, hope it's a good one for you.

    7. Pysmythe

      Thanks, you, too, Jab. :)

    8. docoman

      The first rule about God club.. is you have to talk about God club... the second rule... ;)

    9. jaberwokky

      Spreading the "Word", or the delusion depending on your perspective. I knew Tyler would have something to say about these particular space monkeys:)

    10. fnertz

      You seem very eager to condemn people and wishing them to hell (btw, why do you write "hell" with a capital "H"..?)
      That is not very christian of you. Aren't you guys supposed to forgive people..? And act *nicelly*? So why are you christians from the States so agressive all the time? This is not very christian either.
      Are YOU aware of the overwhelming message of LOVE in your religion, sir?
      One could very easilly think that you all have been possessed or something..

    11. docoman

      Ahh, but you forget mate, as Lauri has already displayed, his Church membership apparently comes with perks like;

      -hypocrisy is required at all times, as double standards are standard,

      -DON'T practice what you preach, see perk 1

      -ANYTHING is fine and forgiven as long as you tell that dress wearing pedeophile in the cupboard about it,

      -their rules are 'above' the law of the land,

      -logic is actually what they wish to twist it into, NOT what makes sense.

      -no questioning and/or thinking allowed (questions are like cancer to religion)

      -automatic delusions of grandeur including;

      a supposed patent on all moral behaviour,
      life after death,
      no taxes now because they're doing 'God's work'. (I guess they figured Caesar is dead now so 'give to caesar what is caesars' doesn't count anymore)

      I've seen Catholic doctrine in practice ;)

    12. jaberwokky

      Possession is not as far off the mark as you might think, fnertz. I suggest that this need to judge and persecute others is inherent in the Catholic doctrine as it evolved. It follows naturally when you build your beliefs around the horrific image of a man being nailed to a plank of wood. The Catholic strain of Christianity has Original Sin and a strong persecution complex at it's core. Even simple mantras like the ever popular "turn the other cheek" line can be used to internally justify and re-enforce the conviction that the poor catholic is always under attack. Couple this with a literalistic approach to reading a book that contradicts itself in just about every conceivable way and the result more often than not for some of the fragile minds that feel a compelling draw to this form of delusion is a complete break from reality. Psychiatry needs to step in.

    13. docoman

      If you're right I guess I'll see you there then Lauri. Gloating with pride over someone else supposedly being wrong about 'God' and suffering for that is a sin itself is it not? You'll have a seat next to Lucifer, in the 'Pride' section. Pack some 'warm weather' clothes mate. ;)

    14. jaberwokky

      You won't be alone mate, just about everyone worth listening to on TDF will be there for "denying their saviour". We'll not be short of a good argument. But hopefully the rapture happens way before that so the rest of us can have a few good years on the planet to clean up the mess before Satan calls us off to the eternal party.

      My only concern is that Hell turns out to be their version of Heaven. As Sartre said "Hell is other people". We'd be royally f--ked then :/

    15. SvenTheBold

      "My only concern is that Hell turns out to be their version of Heaven. As
      Sartre said "Hell is other people". We'd be royally f--ked then :/"

      Better yet, if Hell happened to *be* Heaven. Like, if the two are actually the same place. Not only would you have to deal with other people, you'd have to deal with *those* people. (With *my* people.)

    16. jaberwokky

      Catholic doctrine is just one of many but it is the one that strays furthest from the written word of its Idol Jesus Christ. Where in your words is the spirit of Christian tolerance as preached by your idol?

    17. Kyle Colley

      o well.....darn.....isnt that a crappy life for you....judge not lest ye be judged....well you have been judged....and god, along with 90% of the worlds population deems you instead of enjoying an eternity in get to sit in limbo....because your intentions are good....but your intelligence is mediocre at best....guess book out there....called the NEW may wanna put down your 1600's version bible and enter the new era with the rest of all honesty you give all religious faiths a bad name and you should be made example of by the high an mighty.....not my place to do.....just an idea from someone who doesnt believe if you see a woman doing anything other than cooking and cleaning...she must be a dude your pathetic

    18. Kyle Colley

      any good catholic would partake in this doc due to the simple fact that half od catholic belief structure is based on heavens counterpart....hell...the pope says the devil why wouldnt god want his flock to be well aware and able to ward off said evils? i hope your not claiming to be catholic....if you may want to leave the middle ages and enter reality...the rest of the catholic world recognizes demons, satan, and hell....why dont you?...

  15. Roamingredant .

    We can't be surprised to find that some people believe in something just created by human imagination. This is Aswang is comparable to the idea of any god existing.

  16. Jimmy Light

    i have also heard from people that talk of mumu, aswang and sigbin, even the baby-stealing mananggal. maybe hard to believe to some, but its not a leftover superstition from the catholic church that is for sure.

    not to say either way, but i personally did experience some instances with mumu that cannot be explained by conventional means, from being personally physically harmed and hospitalized, to a pregnant woman with twins, that one child was harmed in the last week before she gave birth because an old lady put kulam (a curse) on her. i dont choose to confirm nor deny either way, but those events are corroborated by a handful of other educated people (MD's) who were also present. very interesting and at times disturbing if it is close to you.

  17. Maria Lyn Linao

    My grandmother always tells us that she had encounter one herself and i actually saw a baby being eaten by a sigbin.

  18. John Murgaš

    the spaniards are sociopaths and their stories are just as stupid

  19. bringmeredwine

    Fling semen at them. Too funny!

  20. CapnCanard

    Good documentary... It reminds me of the witch burning in old Europe. Anytime the Church sees competition the Church reacts with their massive psy-ops, propaganda, and violence to destroy any hint of opposition to the power of the Church. And that is why midwives were burned as "witches" and I believe that is why the Aswang is female. After all, women who have power? The Church can't tolerate any women having power. It is all about power and control!

  21. Pysmythe

    Quite interesting, if you're into mythology and the possible origins of folklore. Personally, I was struck by how much the character of Aswang bears in common with the Rangda character from nearby Bali, in Indonesia. And I was also once again impressed with mankind's never-ending ability to contrive supernatural explanations for nearly anything that can be imagined, and the great appetite we generally have for such stories, even if we know better than to take them seriously. Evil Woman continues to be an especially relishing motif, even now.

  22. mocca101

    I havent seen one, but i have many friends and relatives who told me they have seen an aswang. IDK