Monday, June 16, 2014

Maria Labo

One of the most Terrifying Philippine Urban legends was the Legend of Maria Labo; a poor young woman who took a job as a maid somewhere in the 1930's or 50's. Legend has it that she took a job offer from an old European man as a caretaker, where she was to accompany him into Europe, when she returned to the Philippines, she was somewhat strange and demonic-like and she got a scar across her face. One night, she killed her children and turned them into a stew.It was said that Maria had become an Aswang and fled before the authorities could break down her doors.

Balete Drive

One of the most horrifying Philippine urban Legends involves a small secluded road called Balete Drive. This road acts as a compound of houses that dates back the Spanish times and were said to be haunted by its owners. But its most prevailing legend was that of the spirit of a young girl supposedly raped and murdered by a taxi driver back in the 1950's or 60's. Deprived of Justice, the "White Lady" appears in front of passing taxis, and scare the poor drivers as her act of vengeance.

The Manananggal

A manananggal is one of the most dreaded night creatures in Philippine folklore described as a hideous, scary, vampire-like creature (as opposed to an aswang), often depicted as female, and capable of self-segmenting its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its next victim. 

It is said that they mostly prey on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, the blood of someone who is sleeping, and the phlegm of Tuberculosis sufferers. 

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 itself and will die by sunrise.

[3D artwork by Buddy Paraiso]


"The Aswang". A night dwelling fiend, this beast is referred specifically to a ghoulish were-dog, which is where the word comes from- "Aso" ("The dog" in Tagalog). It is a combination of a ghoul and a werewolf. This type of creature was an eater of the dead, which replaces the cadaver with banana trunks after consumption. 

Aswang stories and definitions vary greatly from region to region and person to person, and no particular set of characteristics can be ascribed to the term. However, the term is mostly used interchangeably with Manananggal and are also usually depicted as female.

[3D art by Buddy Paraiso]

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aswang, American Style

Now, obviously you're familiar with the NBC fantasy-drama show Grimm. In the fourteenth episode of Season 3 ("Mommy Dearest" ), Nick and his company just have a face to face encounter with an Aswang.

This is the second time I saw an aswang being portrayed in an American film. The first was on the 1994 B-rated horror flick "Aswang" (aka The Unearthing). 

Ok, going back to the Grimm Aswang episode. If you read their website... it said there that...

An Aswang (ah-SWAH-ng; Tag. "monster") or Tik-tik (tik-TIK; Tag. onomatopoeia) is a ghoul-like Wesen that appeared in "Mommy Dearest". They are indigenous to the Philippine Islands and exist within mainstream Filipino mythology.

Well, the only correct word there is that the aswang is " mainstream Filipino mythology" other than that... hmmm... Is an aswang a ghoul or ghoul-like? Aswang enthusiasts are still debating on this one. 

Yes, an aswang eat fetuses inside a mother's womb by using its sharp, straw-like tongue, but it feeds because it is hungry, not to prolong it's life. I never heard of an immortal aswang and eating fetuses doesn't makes it immortal. 

Another inaccuracy here is about the tik-tik. A tik-tik is not an another term for the aswang. A tik-tik is a bird and it is used to warn you if an aswang is near by. The louder the tik-tik's sound, the farther the aswang but if the tik-tik's sound goes faint, then RUN!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When The Devil Wins (Simeon Bernardo's Tomb)

Strange, isn't it?

In Tugatog Public Cemetery, Caloocan, there is a very special tomb. Instead of a cross, the tomb of Simeon Bernardo has a statue of the Devil triumphant over St. Michael Archangel.

Don Simeon Bernardo, the person buried over the inverted sculpture, born in 1869, told his children before he died to build the sculpture over his grave, as a reminder to the society that the evil has always been ruling our world and that there is no God. Simeon Bernardo lived during the Spanish era. He was a victim of cruelty by the catholic Spanish government. He was imprisoned and tortured after being accused as a filibuster. Since then, because of bitter and grudge, Simeon Bernardo never believed that God existed and before his death in 1934, his belief never changed that made him decided to ask his children to put the said sculpture over his tomb. 

According to the family of Simeon Bernardo, they will only reverse the sculpture and place the archangel on top of the demon once they see that our world transforms into a place where the good always rule against the evil and not the other way around.

Strange legends that go around the statue
Due to the strangeness of the statue, a lot of legends have sprung up. People often say that the statue is being guarded by a large, black dog every night. Another legend was that the statue was growing. I don’t know about the dog story, but the reason why the statue seems to grow was because the original statue was replaced. Since the original statue was destroyed by drug addicts in the late 70’s, a bigger statue replaced it and the whole thing was placed inside iron bars to protect it from stones being thrown by vandals and pious Christian believers. Speaking of being in a cage, rumors have it that the whole statue was placed inside a cage because every night, the demon flies away. Well… such an outrageous story, huh?

[Note: Also seen in Random Thoughts.]