When I was introduced to Stephanie Meyer’s cult novel series Twilight, it was sometime back last year when some friends from the Code Lyoko fandom community were recommending me to read the book. I’ve always been open to any genre of books as long as they are written and give us readers the open mind to imagine how the story is like when seen in imaginary visual mode.
And when I learned and read the summary of Twilight it turned me off all of a sudden simply because of one thing. It was about vampires that were written and transformed in to hot, appeling, mysteriously sexy, and “flawless” youngsters that potential victims (read: humans) get attracted to and “fall victim” to their evil, deadly spells. My first impression even without reading the first chapter was “Are people insane to write evil creatures in to something alluring?”
When it comes to the occult and to mythical creatures vampires are the only thing that I fear. I can tolerate werewolves, demons (WTF?), monsters, and witches, but I can’t tolerate vampires? Though they are mythical creatures often told through stories from generation to generation my own childhood fear prevented me from believing that they are indeed mythical. It all goes back to my chidhood days in the Philippines when my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins my former yaya (maids), and even the neighborhood kids would often tell me stories about the aswang, the mandurugo, and the manananggal and how I should always stay at home at nighttime even as early as 6:00 p.m.
Let me explain. The aswang, the mandurugo, and the manananggal are three of mythical creatures often mentioned in Filipino folklore that had been passed on through many centures (as far back as even way before the Spanish conquered the Philippines in the 15th Century). If you’re wondering what those three creatures are, they’re different from each other (almost) but they are all related to the vampire.
Aswang. (as-wang) The aswang is a vampiric creature that are also shapeshifters. They don’t fear the sun unlike vampires do, but they do live in the day as your everyday run-of-the-mill common folk (and, like the vampires of Twilight, these “run-of-the-mill common folk” are also as deadly attractive) who are usually shy, quiet, and sometimes evasive. By night they transform in to these winged creatures that fly off to the roof of their potential victims and use their rather long tongue with a venomous tip to feed on to its victims. Some common aswang creatures often take the shape of a beautiful woman at night and they feed on men as well as children. Some aswang even feed on unborn infants by sucking their blood by their tongues through pregnant women. After they were done feeding on their victims they use their magic (?) to transform their victims in to plants and/or trees, never to be seen again by human eyes.
It’s sickening and it’s also scary at the same time. The aswang are most common at the countryside islands and regions of the Philippines (which is, in all honesty, majority of the entire country…) and even though I grew up in the cities, both of my parents came from the countryside provinces and I do often go to these places almost every other weekend. I even remembered accusing some people visiting my grandparents home at the late hours as aswang creatures simply because they came at that particular period of time.
How to kill an aswang? Like vampires, a display of the crucifix or a rosary would ward the aswang off-guard, but that’s not enough for a person’s safety. If you live near the coast, go out to the sea and capture some stingrays. Kill the stingray and cut off its tail and use the tail to stab an aswang like how you would with a dagger. They’re most vulnerable during daytime since the day limits their overwhelming hunting powers. They’re a lot harder to kill at nighttime when their powers are at their peak. If not, use any weapon made out of sterling silver (like how you would kill a vampire with a silver bullet)— melt all your sterling silver jewelry and forge a sword or mold a gun bullet. If you’re not the hunting/killing type, the most effective for any defenseless human can use as a killing weapon is common table salt. Have lots of it. When you are about to get attacked by an aswang, sprinkle salt on them and the salt will eat out their skin and again, they’re most effective during daytime when they’re not at their monstrous form.
Mandurugo. (man-doo-roo-go)This is a more appropriate term for a female aswang where it takes a shape of a woman by day, using her body to lure a husband (more like potential victim), and eventually marry. After marriage is feast day for these creatures at night when they take the shape of winged creatures and feed on male blood (Black Widow…?) including the husband or any “suitors” seeking for her during her daytime “life.” And like other aswang creatures these women turn their corpses in to plants and/or trees.
How to kill a mandurugo? Same as how you would kill an aswang. Salt is the most effective weapon.
Manananggal. (ma-na-nang-gal) The manananggal is almost similar to the mandurugo except at night they detach their upper body from their lower body and fly off to locations of their potential victims, which are, pregnant women. It’s not that they kill these pregnant women but moreso towards their unborn chidren. They use their elongated tongue to suck these unborn babies out of these pregnant women and feed them.
How to kill a manananggal? How to kill them is a lot more difficult than killing an aswang or a mandurugo. Because these creatures have their upper torso body active they are a lot faster and quicker to attack than that of the aswang or the mandurugo. The best way, among all circumstances, is to avoid meeting in to one, but avoiding one is also as difficult as actually killing one. If you hear this “tik-tik” sound of its wings very loud, this is the time where you can sigh in relief. But if you hear the sound fainting as if it was going away, that’s when you start to run and find a place to hide. The manananggal confuses their victims this way, thinking that the louder you hear the sounds of their wings the more danger you end up when it’s actually the other way around. As far as killing, the only way for someone to kill them is to actually go out to the forest lands and find the lower torso of the creature’s body, which is actually stationary and inactive while the upper torso is out there doing its hunting spree. Once you find the lower torso, sprinkle it with salt, crushed garlic, or freshly burned ash. In order for the manananggal to survive daytime is to remain attached to the lower torso, but because of the powerful effects of salt, garlic, or ash the manananggal would not be able to attach back to its lower body and once daybreak hits the creature will die.
Tiyanak. (cha-nak) The tiyanak is a little different from the other three. During daytime it takes the form of a newborn baby being “abandoned” in the woods with its innocent baby cry used to lure travelers and locals to pick them up and bring them in to their household. At night it transforms in to a vampiric version in to a baby or a little monster imp with fangs and claws and do their killing spree with their victims. While they do their hunting with their adult victims they also find delight in also leading travelers astray in the forest (which makes no sense to me… maybe to feed on them at night?). They would also use other ways of luring their adult victims by kidnapping their children (funnily enough the tiyanak don’t feed on children, but they do keep them in its lair unless the tiyanak is killed).
Tiyanak creatures are told different by region. Many say that the tiyanak is actually the spirit of an unborn fetus that was aborted during pregnancy and was transformed in to this night hunting creature to seek revenge on the parents who aborted them. Another say that they are a spirit of an un-Baptized (as in Baptized to Christianity, Catholic, Protestant, whatever) baby who died before the Baptism sacrament was even performed. Others say that they’re merely little demons or imps, thus they refer to the tiyanak as demon child rather than a vampire.
How to kill a tiyanak? A person can’t kill them in the daytime because that would be the same as killing off a human infant and the tiyanak is very hard to suspect among the newborn babies you see in the daytime. To get rid of them use salt and garlic as well as the crucifix or a rosary. Tiyanak creatures also hate loud sounds such as fire explosions, so popping out some fireworks would annoy them until their deaths. Use any weapon made out of silver to kill them off for good.
There you have it. Every time I see a movie involving vampires, whether they were true night creatures of evil or simply looking cool and chic enough for humans to fall in love with them, would always remind me of the aswang, mandurugo, manananggal, or the tiyanak (most often times the aswang). Of course, in the Philippines you will never see any of these mythical creatures being written or flash out as looking cool, chic, mysterious, and deadly attractive like the vampires that you read in Twilight or even in movies such as Underworld. Those four mythical creatures are simply monsters… humans by day, monsters by night.
My cousin (who is about 5-6 years older than I am) had been bugging me for a long time to read Twilight (yes, she is a fan… don’t hate because of her age). In fact she was even inviting me to go watch the movie with her the next time she comes over to my house (she wouldn’t recommend me going to her house because they were still setting up their home since they moved there last summer). After thinking about it maybe I’ve been living in this long gone childhood fear of the aswang, mandurugo, manananggal, and the tiyanak for so long. I don’t even live in that country anymore and yet the sound of those four creatures still haunt me till this very day. Maybe I should get over this childhood fear of mythical creatures and get with the times, you know?
I’ll see if I can have my cousin let me borrow her book (Twilight) for me to read. Maybe the intense romance between the human and the vampire would maybe help me get over my fear a bit. Hm…