when direk jilmer texted me that ricky lee was inviting me for lunch, i wondered what we would talk about.
.little did i know that the topic for our discussion was going to be a blood-curdling one: the mythological 'aswang."
.ricky lee, the literary giant who authored masterpieces such as brutal, salome, moral, and rizal: the screenplay, explained to me that he was writing a book and wanted a psychological perspective on aswangs. in brief, this was what i had to share:
first of all, the filipino aswang is very different from its western counterpart- the vampire. the aswang of filipino folklore is portrayed as a simple person by day who transforms into a nightmarish creature at night. aswangs usually come in two forms, either as a manananggal or as a long-tongued demon.
the manananggal is typically female and divides itself at the the level of the torso. night time is "thriller" time as a horrifying transformation takes place. the manananggal's upper body starts to grow bat-like wings afterwhich it flies off in search of human prey, leaving its lower torso behind.
.as a demonoid, the aswang is typically a male creature with a long slithering tongue used for siphoning fetuses or for snaring the fetuses out of pregnant women.
the aswang is defined by a deep-seated turmoil caused by contradictory themes warring within its psyche--
- innocence versus evil,
- groundedness versus flightiness,
- vulnerability versus predatorship,
- contentment versus craving,
- integration versus disintegration, and
- stability versus degeneration.
in filipino culture, the intestines, heart, and liver are associated with the emotions. thus, at the moment of its transformation, when the aswang separates its body at the level of its guts, it is symbolic of how this individual is violently ripped apart at its emotional core. being an emotionally-torn individual, the aswang feeds itself on the emotional centers (i.e., the heart and liver) of its prey and drains the life energy out of them.
hmm, what a gut-wrenching discussion i had with ricky lee.
curiously, as soon as i left the meeting, i found my eyes blood-shot and my nose bleeding. i felt a sharp sting on my neck and realized i had two puncture marks on my neck. oh dear god, where did these come from?!