What Would Modern Day Aswangs Eat?July 2, 2020
Our Philippine mythology is rich with folklore about otherworldly creatures, most of whom have a sinister history. Like all creepy folks, these aswangs gotta eat, and their diets are varied to say the least, feasting on things from dying corpses to the moon itself. But what would they eat if they were dining on dishes in Manila today?
The aswang is often a generalization of any man-eating supernatural being—that includes witches, vampires, and shapeshifters. In this case, it refers to a female ghoul that takes on the form of a beautiful young lady (with bloodshot eyes) in the day. At night, she can turn into a boar, a bird, or a dog.
Aswangs are known to eat the hearts and liver of their victims, but they’re also known to feast on entire corpses or soon-to-be corpses (the dying or the sick). They steal the body and replace it with banana trunks—actual banana tree trunks, not to be confused with a banana hammock.
The modern day aswang now finds its way to Vask, and instead of eating a whole person, settles for an entire pig, the Vask Cochinillo, which is pretty sick and worth dying for. Twice.
The manananggal is a type of aswang that detaches its upper body, sprouts wings, and flies around looking for pregnant women. They achieve their transformation by rubbing a special oil, which also moisturizes, I guess. It, like most supernatural creatures, is susceptible to condiments—salt, chili, and garlic—making Sichuan cuisine an ideal deterrent.
Once a manananggal locates a pregnant woman, it lands on its roof and proceeds to make a hole small enough for its long tongue (or proboscis to be more exact), to drop down and eat the fetus. It needs to do this every full moon.
Down by Mati’s, manananggals reserve their tables for one-half and scarf down the artery clogging Balut Aligue, a deshelled duck embryo drowning in butter and crab fat, a very unhealthy alternative to human fetuses.
Again, the term duwende is generalized, referring to a plethora of little creatures: goblins, hobgoblins, dwarves, or elves. Simpler than Tolkien, right? They’re often found both in rural and urban settings. Responsible for missing objects and altering people’s luck, there are bad (black) and good (white) duwendes. Racism in the supernatural.
Food offerings, often placed on the ground, are given to appease these supernatural creatures, which is strange because food left on the ground sounds very unappetizing, not to mention unsanitary.
Aside from coffee that tastes like dirt (it was ground this morning), the modern duwende will satiate their sweet tooth with the Roots Potted Dessert at Roots Market Bistro, an amalgamation of chocolate cake and stones with Madagascar vanilla gelato that’s made to look like a potted plant.
The Bakunawa, a gigantic sea serpent, amazed by the creation of Bathala would rise from the ocean and cause lunar eclipses. In those days before NASA, Bathala was said to have created seven moons, and because they were so pretty the Bakunawa ate up six. Imagine it saying, “You’re so cute! I’m going to eat you!”
The moon. With only one moon left, people would either create loud noises by banging pots and pans to scare away the beast, or play soothing music to sooth it, making it spit the remaining moon out.
Eating planetary satellites can be cumbersome and costly (moon rocks are valued at $50,000 per gram) so the Bakunawa has slithered its way on to Sebastian’s Ice Cream for it’s Once in a Blue Moon flavor: blue cheese ice cream with honey and walnuts.
The tall, dark, and muscular type (but also smelly), the kapre is a tree demon that dwells in giant trees like the acacia or the balete. Complete with its trademark cigar, the creature often plays tricks on people or falls in love with beautiful women, like modern day YouTube pranksters.
Not much is known about their diet but the kapre always sports a cigar, which he probably rolls himself, or a tobacco pipe, which he probably bought in Fuma.
Now resigned to vaping and the occasional social cigarette stick, the modern kapre can still find that smokey goodness in the Smoked Brisket of Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse. Farewell tall, dark, and muscular. Hello dad-bod!