any of us grew up with tales of aswangs, fearsome creatures that are human by day but transform into fearsome creatures at night. There are different kinds of aswangs, from shapechangers who like to take the form of pigs or dogs (bats don’t seem to be big among local aswangs), to manananggals who leave their lower bodies behind as their upper bodies sprout wings, allowing them to fly up onto thatched roofs so that they can lower their long, tube-like tongue onto the sleeping occupants below and literally suck the life out of them. Fortunately, we also grew up with tales on how to defeat these monsters. Here are eight ways to defeat an aswang.


Probably borrowed from Western vampiric folklore, hanging garlic near a room’s entrances such as windows and doorways is said to keep aswangs from entering, because of its smell. It hasn’t been tested yet, but a more modern way of doing this would be to go to bed after eating a lot of garlic and cheese pizza.


The Philippines is a Catholic country, and, much like its locals learning to fear the conquerors, many of its lower mythological creatures have learned to fear the Christian God. Perhaps also borrowed from vampiric lore, many aswangs can be scared off by brandishing a Crucifix, which burns their skin.


If you encounter an aswang and aren’t Catholic (or have forgotten to bring a Crucifix), don’t fret. Aswangs fear the Lord more than the things that symbolize Him, so your faith is all you need to stand strong. I wanted to be inclusive and write about the effect of other religious faiths here, but I’m only familiar with the Christian ones. If you know any stories of aswangs and other faiths, please let me know as I’d love to hear them.


There are few things on this world that would not perish in a good flame and fortunately, the aswang is not one of them. Throw a lantern at a flying manananggal and watch her (manananggals are usually lovely but secretive young women by day) long hair and frilly clothes burst into flame. Be careful not to do this in a highly populated or forested area, as the fire can get out of control, and you might end up with something bigger to worry about.


Aswangs may be vicious man-eaters, but even in their monstrous state, they remain mortal. A knife will cut the same way it will cut a human being. The tricky part is fighting a creature that flies. This should not be a problem for a skilled fighter, or one who is used to sparring with people who wear jet packs.


Yes, even the humble bamboo can be lethal to an aswang, but only if it is sharpened into a pointy stick and stuck into a major blood vessel or an important organ. And if you have good aim, and a good arm, you have the advantage of being able to throw the spear at the aswang, saving you the trouble of having to get near it to kill it.


Aswangs can be killed by guns the same way regular people can. You don’t even have to use special bullets. All you need is to aim properly, and take speed and factor into account.


If you are lucky enough to find the lower half of a manananggal, all you have to do is sprinkle rock salt into the open wound that will probably be its waist area. Then all you have to do is sit back and wait for its upper half to fall. This is the easiest way to kill a manananggal, but also the trickiest, because they are experts at hiding their lower halves. The best way to go about it is in tandem, with one person distracting the creature while the other one searches for the lower half of its body.

Yvette Tan

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