For centuries the people of the Philippines have told of a violent, malevolent monster that has provoked terror and mayhem and which has been responsible for an untold number of savage, violent deaths.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably ain’t no chicken, as my Grammaw would say. Or does a rose by any other name not smell as sickly sweet? The vampire legend is largely universal, but not every culture calls its respective version by that name. In the Philippines, the role of the traditional vampire is filled by the Aswang. It shares many of the attributes common to all its bloodthirsty kin; most of the frightening ones, at any rate. It doesn’t sparkle, isn’t sexy, and isn’t afraid of garlic, crosses, or holy water. Unfortunately for its victims.
But the Aswang can change its shape. It feasts on human flesh, particularly delighting in hearts and livers. Like the Greek Lamia or the Babylonian Lilitu, it steals children from cribs. Like the ghoul of Middle Eastern mythology, if it can’t catch a living victim, it has no qualms about digging up fresh cadavers from nearby cemeteries. (Maybe that explains the Aswang’s trademark carrion house smell.) Tell the truth, now, if you were going to have to face a real vampire in the dead of night, would you rather encounter a suave, albeit pale, gentleman sporting fangs—or the Aswang?