Online Custom «South and South East Asian Studies» Essay Sample

South and South East Asian Studies

Philippine folklore comprises of numerous magic tales and mythological creatures that are believed to exist. The creatures are connected to the famous myths that are told by rural Filipinos up to date. People in the countryside strongly believe in the existence of many fictitious characters although there is no scientific evidence to support this argument (Reid, 1993). Stories are passed through the generation to inflict fear and respect for these mythical creatures. Although the creatures are different in form, they are believed to have similarities in behavior and sometimes appearances. The most common mythical characters are the Aswang and the Manananggals.

Aswangs are the most feared creatures among the Filipinos. There are specified characteristics that are peculiar to them, but they are mostly represented as females (Azuma, 2011). Different descriptions given in the Aswang stories make it hard to have a definite comprehension of their appearances and activities. They are presented as shape-shifters that live as ordinary townspeople during the day, but transform at night to assume the form of other creatures such as bats, cats, dogs, or birds. During the day, Aswangs interact with the human beings. They talk, laugh, cry, hurt, and get mad among other emotional expressions. They like befriending people to allure them to their kingdom. These creatures are believed to eat unborn fetuses and livers and hearts of small children. They have a long tongue that sucks the unborn babies from their mother’s wombs. They can be killed or repelled using ashes, salt, garlic, and religious artifacts.

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Manananggals, just like Aswangs, also take the form of humans during the day. Naturally these creatures take a form of an old, beautiful woman, which has bloodshot eyes. The distinctive feature between the two creatures is that Manananggal detaches itself from the human upper body during flight (Reid, 1993). It searches for an unreachable place where it leaves the lower part of the body during the flight. They feed on babies and fetuses from the mother’s womb by passing their long tongue on the pregnant woman’s navel and suck the fetus. Sometimes Manananggal feeds on inner parts of men such as liver, heart, and stomach. These men are seduced by her beauty, and they are taken to private places where they are eaten alive. The creature can turn its victims into Manananggals through physical or supernatural ways. If the dawn breaks before she joins with the other half, it will be destroyed (Lim, 2009). To kill a Manananggal, one should apply salt, ash, and garlic on the lower part that is left behind during the nightly hunts.

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Different stories have been narrated to explain the power of the mythical creatures. Most of these tales are scary though many of them have a happy ending. The Four Aswangs of Capiz and the Aswang Family are two examples of stories that involve Aswangs and Manananggals. The first story is about sailors and their commander that arrived in Capiz Island. They went to a widow’s house for shelter. The widow was staying with her three daughters. The family was very hospitable, and they offered the sailors high-quality food making them comfortable by the friendly talks and laughter.

During the meal, one of the guests noted that his fork was shaped like a human hand, which raised suspicion of the family. After this observation, they could not continue eating though they decided to keep an eye on the family behavior during their stay on the island. At night, the sailors went to the lower rooms where they found three lower torsos of women bodies. The men were terrified thus they decided to smear the halves with ash and changed their position to destroy the Manananggals (Lim, 2009). When the upper halves returned, they found the other halves defiled and they started to wail deeply. The captain of the sailors, who was in a different room, came down to see what was happening. He found the widow’s daughters in the form of Aswangs. They pleaded to clean the ash and he responded to their plea. He washed their lower body with water and a piece of cloth making them able to reunite with their lower parts before the daybreak. The daughters thanked the captain for saving them from a horrible death, but they were angry with the other sailors and swore to kill them. The three sailors had run for their lives. However, the Manananggals pursued them threatening to kill them or marry them to atone for the crime they had committed. The sailors agreed to marry, and they lived happily with these creatures.

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The other story of the Aswang family is about a girl who was invited by her classmate to visit her family in the village during the holiday. When she arrived, the girl found the hosting parents weak and sickly in the bed. However, later the visiting girl saw the parents walking along the sea shore healthy and strong. She asked her host about the strange behavior of her parents, and she explained that they were enjoying the sunshine. At night, the visiting girl wanted to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was near the parent’s bedroom, and she noted that the bedroom door was open. The girl peeped only to find that the room was empty. She was very frightened but decided to keep it to herself. In the morning, the girl and her classmate were sharing the breakfast when the mother slowly walked in the kitchen, took a pot from the cupboard, and scooped some of the content into a small plate. She handed over the meal to their visitor. It looked like white intestine and other types of meat. The girl declined the offer politely and later excused herself to leave the family. On her way home, she was informed of that the family she had visited was an Aswang.

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