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The Philippines - Aswang, Bebarlangs, Danag, Mandurugo

One must admit that the subject of Philippine vampires is quite difficult and confusing. To my understanding there are over fifty ethnic groups in the Philippines, and each one has its own dialect. Moreover, there are specific names for different types of Philippine vampires. But, at the same time, these names are interchangeable as you go from one place to another. (The same problem of variable, inter-changing names for different types of vampires also occurs in European lore, such as Romania.)

Aswang: The Aswang was seen as a beautiful maiden by day and a fearsome flying fiend by night. The Aswang can live a normal life during daylight hours. At night however the creature is led to the houses of its victims by night birds, where it lands on the roof of the victim and proceeds to feed via a long pointed tubular tongue which reaches from the roof to the bed below and pierces the skin of the sleeping victim. Its nourishment is always blood, and it prefers to feed on children. The creature is recognized by its swollen form after feeding, it looks almost pregnant. It is said if the Aswang licks a person's shadow it is believed that the person will die soon afterwards. Reportedly when the Aswang flies home before dawn (looking pregnant from the blood) it then breast-feeds her children. Possibly also known as Aswang-Mananaggal.
        Recently I found even more information to stir into the pot and make it more confusing. In the Philippine Islands today, the term Aswang, in its broadest meaning, applies to all the vampiric witches and sorcerers in Philippine lore.
        One type of Aswang is a woman who changes into the form of a large bird at night. In this form, she has a very long, hollow tongue with a sharp point at the end. She lands on the thatched roof of her victims. The tongue reaches down through a crack in the roof. The tip of this tongue inserts into the neck of a sleeping person and draws up the blood. The favorite victims are young children and pregnant women. When this type of Aswang returns to her own home before dawn, she changes back into human form. But her breasts and belly are swollen with blood. She then breast feeds the blood to her own children. Sometimes this type of Aswang is called the tik-tik or wak-wak. But in some Philippine lore the name tik-tik is given to a small owl-like bird which accompanies this type of Aswang at night. The smaller bird makes the sound "tik-tik" which forewarns the potential victims of the nearby presence of the Aswang. (According to a woman who grew up on the Philippine island of Mindanao, this type of Aswang was called the Tyanak. Her American husband mentioned that the correspondence between different names for different types of Philippine vampires tended to be switched around as you go from one region to another. But the name Tiyanak often applies to an infant who becomes a vampire as the result of having died without being baptized.
        Another type of Aswang is a man or woman who separates at the waist at night. The top half then grows wings and flies off to seek victims. This type of Aswang is also sometimes said to have a long tongue. It has a reputation for snatching unborn babies from the wombs of pregnant women. He or she can be destroyed by casting salt onto the lower part of his body after he becomes detached. The upper half can then no longer re-connect with the lower half. According to one source, a woman from Mindanao, this vampire is called the Aswang. But, according to two other Philippine informants, the specific name for this type of Aswang is mannananggal. This name derives from the Philippine word tanggal which means "to separate." You might recognize a resemblance here with the Malaysian penanggalan.
        The Penanggalan of Malaysia is quite similar. The similarity in names might simply be due to the fact that Malaysian and Philippine languages share common roots. But then it is also possible that Malaysian and Philippine beliefs in the supernatural have common roots.
        A third type of Aswang is a man or women who can change into all sorts of animal forms, including that of a bird, a dog, or a pig. Again, it is frequently said that the favorite victims are young children and pregnant women. This type seems to correspond the more specific meaning of the name Aswang. Most often such an Aswang is a man but there are also female Aswangs of this type.
        A fourth type of Aswang, the mandurugo, occurs in a Tagalog folk tale. According to this tale, at one time a certain girl was the most beautiful woman on her island. She was also a mandurugo. When she was 16 years old, she married a husky young man. He withered away and died within a year after the marriage. She next married another man soon after, and he suffered the same fate as the first husband. The same sequence was repeated with her third husband. She then married a fourth husband. But he was warned in time. He went to bed one night, with a knife under his pillow, and feigned sleep. When he felt something over him pricking his neck, he struck with his knife and stabbed the creature on top of him. It was too dark to see the creature, but he heard a screech and the sound of flapping wings. In the following morning, his wife was found dead at some distance from his cottage with a knife wound in her chest. There is much more to be said about Philippine lore concerning the Aswang. The subject really deserves a whole lot more time.
        In the Philippine Islands today, the term Aswang, in its broadest meaning, applies to all the vampiric witches and sorcerers in Philippine lore.
        There is some chance that this creature was also known as Asuwang.

Bebarlangs: A tribe found in the Philippines that had members that practiced a form of psychic vampirism. They apparently sent out there astral bodies and fed on the life forces and vitality of individuals.

Danag: A Filipino vampire held to be very ancient as a species, responsible for having planted taro on the islands long ago. The Danag worked with humans for many years but the partnership ended one day when a woman cut her finger and a Danag sucked her wound, enjoying the taste so much that it drained her body completely of blood.

Mandurugo (possibly also seen as Mandurago): A Filipino vampire found in the region of Capiz, said to appear as a beautiful woman during the day and as a foul flying fiend at night. The Mandurugo ("bloodsucker") uses her beauty to attract and wed young men, thus providing her with a constant blood supply.


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