A Dream


She stood gazing at a vast, sprawling grassland. The grassy plain stretched as far as her eyes could see, its flat outline broken by a woodland to the east and a jagged mountain range to the west. Ahead of her, just above the horizon was the bright sun. It was silent. No birds singing – only the faint rustling of grass and the leaves of the scant trees around. She was alone. Suddenly a cold gust of wind swept against her back. She turned and found herself in her bed, lying on her side. It was all a dream. Sunbeams through the window greeted her eyes. She sat up, the dream still lingering in her head. It was so vivid, so real. Then the ringing of her phone snapped her back to reality.
At work she couldn’t help but think about the dream she had. She has become drawn to it. It was probably the tranquility she felt in the dream. She wanted to be in that place again. Later that night, during her sleep, she once again found herself in the grassy plain. Her eyes wandered round the place. The sun was where she last saw it. Judging by its position the time was around mid-afternoon. Behind her was a towering cliff face. It seemed to stretch for miles from both directions like an endless wall. She approached a tree and sat under its shade, enjoying the ethereal tranquility. Her life in the waking world was good but being there in that place in her dream was better, she thought. She wondered if she was all alone in that place. Then from the sky above the distant woodland she spied a flock of unfamiliar birds flying towards the horizon. As she followed them with her eyes she noticed dark clouds forming atop the mountain range in the west. Then she woke up to an overcast morning. Screw work, she thought; and she went back to sleep. But the dream in the grassy plain never came.
The same thing happened that night and nights after that. Instead of the tranquil, grassy plain, she had other dreams which irked her. She was frustrated every time she woke up. She overslept often, hoping to have the dream she longed for, causing her to be always late for work. Even when in the company of her boyfriend her thought was occupied by the grassy plain in her dream. She needs to be there, she thought. Even the psychologist was no help at all.
One day she came up with an idea. Sleeping pills might help. But when the prescribed dosage didn’t work she doubled it. When that didn’t work either she took more, and more.
Then one morning she was found in her bed lifeless – with a smile on her face.


Art drawn in my Nintendo DS Lite with ColorsDS then edited with GIMP 2.

Ang Biktima ni Angeli

angeli-aswangNOTE: English version of story below.

Habang hinuhubad ang pares ng duguang gwantes napatingin si Angeli sa salamin upang sulyapan ang kanyang ginawa. Walang buhay na nakahandusay sa sahig ng comfort room ang pinakahuli nitong biktima – isang freshman sa unibersidad – na ang dugo ay nagkalat sa tiles mula sa nakangangang hiwa sa tiyan ng dalaga. Mula sa hiwa na iyon ay kanyang hinugot at nilantakan ang atay ng biktima. Ang natira ay kanyang sinilid sa plastic na garapon sa kanyang bag. Napakasarap ng atay ng dalaga. Nalalasap pa rin niya ang sarap sa kanyang bibig. Matapos ang isang taon, muli siyang nakatikim niyon, na paborito ng kanyang mga ka-uri.
Mga tatlong linggo din niyang minanmanan ang kanyang biktima. Nagpanggap pa siyang estudyante sa pinapasukan nitong unibersidad. Sa wakas dumating ang pagkakataon nang gabing iyon nang tumungo ng mag-isa sa comfort room ang estudyante bago umuwi. Hindi na nito nagawang makatili nang baliin ni Angeli ang leeg nito. Pagkatapos ay sinimulan niyang hiwain ang estudyante gamit ang scalpel. Mga matatalas na kuko niya sana ang kanyang gagamitin ngunit hindi madaling alisin ang dugo kapag sumuot sa ilalim ng kuko, lalo pa’t may pupuntahan pang gimik si Angeli.
Maingat niyang sinilid sa plastic ang hinubad na mga gwantes at nilagay sa kanyang bag. Tinignan niya ang sarili sa salamin. Maliban sa dugo sa kanyang mga labi at sa baba at iilang talsik sa kanyang mga braso, walang bahid nito sa kanyang uniporme. Matapos iligpit ang scalpel, naghilamos at naghugas si Angeli. Muli niyang sinulyapan ang kanyang biktima bago umalis.
Ni hindi man lang siya napansin ng dalawang security guard sa gate nang siyang dumaan palabas na animo’y ihip ng hangin lamang.
Kinabukasan agad nabalita ang pagkatagpo sa bangkay ng kanyang biktima na wakwak ang tiyan at wala nang atay. Napangiti si Angeli nang sinabi sa balita na baka aswang ang may kagagawan.

Angeli’s Victim

While removing her bloodied gloves, Angeli glanced at her handy work through the mirror. Her latest victim – a freshman student in the university – lay dead on the comfort room floor with her blood spilled on the tiles from the gaping incision in the girl’s belly. Through this incision, Angeli pulled out ate partially ate the victim’s liver. The rest she put in a small plastic jar in her bag. The girl’s liver was exquisite. Angeli can still taste its goodness in her mouth. After a year, she has once again tasted human liver which is a favorite of her kind.
She observed her victim for at least three weeks. She even disguised as a student in the girl’s university. At last the opportunity came when that night the student went to the comfort room alone before going home. The girl wasn’t able to shriek when Angeli broke her neck. Then she started to cut her open with a scalpel. She would have used her claws but washing off the blood wasn’t easy once they’ve gotten under the nails, especially that Angeli is going on a night out later.
She carefully put the gloves in a plastic bag and placed it in her bag. She checked herself in the mirror. Except for the blood on her lips and chin and some splatters on her forearms, her uniform was unstained. After getting rid of the scalpel, Angeli cleaned herself. She took a last glance at her victim before leaving.
The two security guards at the gate didn’t even notice her as she slipped past them like a gust of wind.
The following day, there was news on her victim who was found cut open with the liver gone. Angeli smiled when it was speculated that the culprit could be an aswang.


The Tiyanak

Described in Tagalog and Bicolano folklore as a small bald-headed goblin with small horns, sharp teeth, pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, and disproportionate legs (the left leg is shorter while the right one in unusually longer), the tiyanak disguises itself as a baby abandoned in the forest or in the field. It wails loudly to attract a passerby and when picked up it sheds its disguise like a snake shedding its old skin, revealing its true form, and kills the victim by biting and mauling.
Various speculations on how the tiyanak came to be range from babies born dead in the forest to the Catholic-influenced unbaptized stillborn infants, and later extended to vengeful murdered infants and aborted fetuses.

Tiyanak medium

A horned tiyanak.


Belief in the tiyanak may have originated from the patianak of the Mandaya tribe in Mindanao, when Islam started to spread north before the arrival of the Spanish. The ancient natives in the south revered the patianak as a lesser nature spirit associated with the soil and rice fields similar to the nuno sa punso of the Tagalogs. With its name meaning “lord child”, offerings during planting and harvesting seasons were made in rice fields in honor of the patianak to ensure the health of the crops and a bountiful harvest. Those who passed by an area believed to be inhabited by the creature whispered excuses for safe passage or risk being assaulted by its diminutive inhabitant.
The image of the tiyanak gradually changed in Luzon. From a semi-benevolent being, the northern version – also known as patianak in some parts of Bicol and Pampanga – was portrayed in most tales as a fiendish blood-sucker and man-eater in the forest. With the arrival of Catholicism, the creature became a demon and tormentor of those who refused the Catholic faith. Later, the tiyanak was believed to be a demon child or the monstrous offspring of a demon and a woman, referred to as impakto or impaktito.
Interestingly, it could also be possible that belief in the tiyanak might have been influenced if not introduced by Spanish missionaries, especially those from Mexico, who were intent on converting the natives into Catholics. The Aztecs of Mexico believed in a small creature called chaneque (sounds familiar, right?). According to stories the chaneque looked like small, wrinkly old men and women who lurked in the jungle. These creatures, both feared and revered, were notorious for stealing the souls of those who strayed into their domain. The only way to recover the soul is for the victim to undergo a specific ritual, otherwise he will fall ill and die. The chaneque were also known to lead people astray, making the victims wander mindless around the jungle for days. When the conquistador Hernan Cortez finally subdued the Aztecs, the belief in the chaneque was modified by the friars to sway the natives into Catholic faith. They speculated that a chaneque was the result of the devil possessing an unbaptized stillborn child, causing it to return as a child demon that preyed on those who wandered into the jungle – a speculation shared by Filipino belief. Later it was believed that in order to escape the chaneque one must wear his shirt inside-out – a practice also popular in Philippine folklore.
With the exception of the tiyanak’s ability to disguise itself as a baby, some striking similarities with the chaneque suggest a possible link between the two creatures.

Related creatures

Aside from the patianak, there are other similar creatures in southern Philippine folklore associated with the tiyanak. The muntianak of the Bagobos, whose name means “small child” is the spirit of a child who died while still in the womb during childbirth. After coming back to life as a hideous little creature, it makes the forest its home and harasses or kills those who pass by.
The Tagakalao tribe of Davao believe in the mantianak, a bearded incarnation of an infant who, together with its mother, died during childbirth in the forest. It makes the forest its home and wails mournfully from time to time. Pregnant women who hear its wails suffer miscarriage. In some parts of Mindanao the mantianak is believed to be the vengeful spirit of a woman who died during the late period of her pregnancy. This wraith retains its female form but has a hole or slit in her belly where her unborn child is tucked in. Blaming men for her untimely demise, she exacts revenge by attacking any man at night, mauling him and ripping off the victim’s penis or testicles. This particular belief probably came from the south in Malaysia where the mantianak is believed to be an avenging ghost of a woman who died while giving birth.
A creature almost similar to the later version of the mantianak is the viscera-eating pontianak of Indonesian folklore. A pontianak is described as the vampiric ghost of a woman who died while pregnant. She disguises herself as a beautiful woman only to kill, mutilate, and even devour the men who approached her. High-pitched cries of a baby along with a fragrance followed by an awful stench indicate her presence.



Demetrio, Francisco. The Flood Motif and the Symbolism of Rebirth in Filipino Mythology. In Dundes, Alan (ed.) The Flood Myth, University of California Press, Berkeley and London, 1988.
Kintanar, Thelma B. & Associates. U.P. Cultural Dictionary for
Filipinos Second Edition, 2009
Ramos, Maximo D. The Creatures of Midnight. Phoenix Publishing, 1990

The Aswang in Western Visayas

An aswang, according to Philippine folklore is a creature of the night that has a taste for human flesh and blood, has the ability to transform into certain animals, and has other supernatural abilities such as witchcraft. The origin of the word aswang is still being disputed up to this day. The arrival of Catholicism turned the aswang into a demon and made it vulnerable to crosses, holy water, and other objects and symbols of Catholic faith. In his book, The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore, Dr. Maximo D. Ramos identified the aswang into five categories: the blood-sucking vampire such as the Mandurugo, the viscera-sucker or self-segmenter like the Manananggal, the weredog that shape-shifts into a dog or a boar, the vindictive or evil-eye witch that could kill anyone using hexes, and the ghoul that steals and eats corpses.
Belief in the aswang is widespread in the Philippines and dates back before the Spanish conquered the archipelago. Spanish missionaries and authorities mentioned the persistence of such belief in their memoirs and letters.


A Bagat giving someone a real shocker.

In Western Visayas, the belief in the aswang persists despite the advances in science and modernization. Even in its cities, some folks still continue to fear this creature of the night. Once in a while you will hear or see in the local news of an alleged aswang attack or sighting. In the past, newcomers from Iloilo and its neighboring provinces were held under suspicion by Manila locals, fearing they might sprout wings and fly off with dangling entrails at night. This was due to stories about certain individuals in the region believed to have been aswangs, which became popular nationwide – some becoming urban legends later.
There is the story of the infamous Teniente Gimo of Dueñas. The most popular version, from which an episode of the 1990 Philippine horror classic film Shake Rattle & Roll 2 was loosely based, tells of a female student who got invited to a village feast by her friend, Teniente Gimo’s daughter. As the story goes, the night before the feast the student overheard that the family intended to butcher and eat her. Fearing for her life, she switched bracelets with the Teniente’s daughter who was fast asleep and disguised herself. This way she was able to flee the village. In the end, the Teniente killed his own daughter, mistaking her for the intended victim. The student reported to the authorities who arrested the Teniente and his family. The culprits were paraded around the town and were tagged as aswangs.
Another alleged aswang, whose story became an urban legend, is Maria Labo from Iloilo (although there are those who contend the story originated in Capiz, in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, or in Sorsogon). As the story goes, Maria worked as a caregiver in Canada. There, it is assumed, she was turned into an aswang after inheriting it from her employer. When she returned to the Philippines tragedy befell her family. Maria butchered, cooked and ate her two children, and later fed them to her clueless husband. When the husband found out later, he hacked Maria with a machete, leaving a gaping wound in her face, hence the name Maria Labo. Labo in local dialect means “to hack”. But Maria survived and escaped and up to now continues to terrorize those who believe in the aswang. Her story was produced into a full feature film directed by veteran actor Roi Vinzon and was shown in theaters last November 2015.
In the province of Capiz, numerous tales on aswangs have proliferated for as long as anyone could remember. It is said that aswang communities actually exist in some parts of the province. Capiz became synonymous with the aswang. The province was even tagged as the “aswang capital of the Philippines”.
It is still questionable, however, if such creatures did and still thrive in Capiz. The ancient folk of Aklan, on the other hand, classified the aswang into four types: The flying Aswang Lupad, the flightless Aswang Malakat, The Aswang Gabunan who eats humans only once a year, and the self-segmenting Aswang Hubot. Is the aswang real or just a remnant of an ignorant past? Only the truth knows.
Below are a few identified aswang variants based on stories and accounts all over Western Visayas.



Andres, T.D. Dictionary of Filipino Culture and Values.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Creatures of Midnight.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore.

The Date


The café had a few customers that night. Tina was alone at a table in one corner, quietly sipping a cup of mocha cappuccino while stabbing a slice of chocolate cake with a fork. To her left a group of boisterous young men sometimes glanced at her. They were obviously talking about her. Two girls, in their late teens, from another table ogled a professional-looking guy who just entered the café with a girl in tow. Another guy with a very expensive wristwatch was talking on his iPhone 6 at the table near the counter. Tina’s phone rang, catching the attention of other customers. She picked it up and answered the call.

“Hello?” she said softly.

“Hi,” the guy on the other line responded. “I’m so sorry but I can’t make it there tonight. Something came up and I have to take care of it.”

Tina’s smile faded.

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” she said.

“I know but I really have to take care of this. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Oh, not at all. It’s alright.”

“Thank you. I owe you one. Say, what about I make it up to you Monday night?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Great! See you Monday, gorgeous. Call you later. Take care, okay? Bye”

“You too. Bye.”

Tina stared at her phone for a while after the call ended. It was disappointing not being able to spend some time with him on a Saturday night. She wasn’t mad at him. He understood and accepted what she was.

She paid her bill and walked out of the café. The cool evening breeze greeted her as she approached her car, the key in her hand.

“Don’t make a noise.” Tina felt the pointed tip a knife pressed against her back. A strong arm wrapped around her neck. There were two of them. The other guy, in his early thirties stood guard watching out for possible passersby that might foil their plan.

“If you make any scene I’ll gut you. Open the door,” the man holding her growled.

She unlocked the car with a steady hand and opened the door at the driver’s seat.

“Get inside,” the man with the knife pushed her in. She went in without resistance and sat next to the man, her eyes fixed on him as he started the engine. The guy in his early thirties sat in the passenger seat behind her. She knew what they were up to. Robbers, carjackers, and serial rapists lurked in the city, preying on innocent civilians. But something else lurked in the city. The two criminals failed to notice the faint smile on Tina’s face as they headed for the highway which lead out of town.



It was past eight in the morning when Tina rose from her bed. A faint taste of bile lingered in her mouth. Her mom and dad were in the living room, discussing business matters. Later in the afternoon that day she went out to hang out with some friends. She nodded in response to the security guard’s greeting, on her way out of the subdivision. In the guard house one of the personnel was absorbed with the news on the radio. Apparently two dead men, one in his early thirties, were found in the floodway just outside the city. Their throats were slit and their bellies cut wide open like a dissection frog, the guts spread out for the world to see. One of them was missing a liver.



The Visitor


The hospital reeked of sickness and death. Along its cold concrete corridors echoed the groans of the ill, the pained, the dying, and the prayers of hopeful souls. Medical staff, patients and their relatives with worried faces shuffle about. The groans of the dying and the scent of death were intoxicating.

“Calling Doctor Diaz, you are needed at the nurses’ station,” a nearby P.A. speaker requested.

Tina smiled at a frail-looking old woman in a wheelchair in the hallway. The old woman glanced at the bunch of red roses she was carrying in response.

“Won’t be long now,” Tina thought while discretely sniffing the air.

The male hospital staff, most likely a homosexual, who pushed the old lady’s wheelchair glanced at her prim university uniform. The bitch must be jealous of her finely ironed checkered skirt and spotless white long-sleeved blouse, she thought.

Her sick friend’s room was up ahead. She slowly opened the door and peeked inside.

“Hello, gorgeous!” she said while entering then shutting the door behind her. “How are you?”

Her friend, Trisha was in the bed, her body propped up with a pillow against the headboard, an android tablet in hand. Another friend, a fellow student at the university was seated beside on the bedside.

“Feeling better,” Trisha replied.

“Great! By the way, I thought these could make your day even better,” Tina put the bunch of roses to the vase near Trisha. “What’s up, Jackie?”

“Spending some quality time with Miss Dengue here,” Jackie elbowed Trisha and they all giggled.

Trisha caught Dengue somewhere but was fortunate to be hospitalized early and avoided serious complications.

“The doctor said I was lucky my Dengue was not that severe,” Trisha related. “I’m the third Dengue patient admitted to this hospital this week.”

“Really? What about the others?” Tina said.

“Well, my doctor said he’s treating one of the other two patients. That one he says, a little boy, is not in good shape.”

“Is the patient in the I.C.U.?”

“Oh he’s in the next room.”


High fever wracked the eight-year-old boy. His entire body shivered despite of his soaring temperature. It felt like being dried out in the desert then suddenly plunged into a tub full of ice again and again. His head felt like it was going to explode. He could barely open his eyes. He laid uncomfortably on his bed, dozing off to a delirious sleep then suddenly waking up terrified. In his dreams someone else, aside from his nanny was inside the room – a dreadful presence that gave him the creeps. His eyes scanned the room. But only his nanny was there, busy on her mobile phone. Suddenly he was afraid to sleep. His feeble body, unfortunately, had to give in. His eyes were heavy. As his eyelids shut finally and the world of dreams and nightmares sucked him in he thought he saw a shadowy figure loom over him.


Trisha looked gloomy when Tina entered the room.

“If you keep on looking like that I’d say you need to spend a week more in this hospital,” Tina giggled.

“Hey,” Trisha said still looking sad.

“Why the face, gorgeous?” Tina pinched Trisha’s cheek.

“Cut it out will you?” Trisha brushed off her hand. “Remember that other patient I told you?”

“The boy? What about him?”

“He died last night.”


The Couple


“What a sweet smell!” Tina reveled while sniffing the cool morning sea breeze. Tacky, her pet puppy stirred in her arms and raised his head as if alerted by something. She turned and saw a couple strolling at the water’s edge near them. The woman was pregnant – five months probably. Tacky jumped off Tina’s arms and ran towards the couple and pawed at the woman’s heel. Startled, the woman almost kicked the puppy away but thought otherwise and cursed the animal instead, calling it names. Tina came running.

“God, Tacky, leave the lady alone,” she said while picking up her pet. “Sorry about that.”

“You shouldn’t let your mutt loose. It nearly gave me a miscarriage.” The woman glared at her.

“I’m really sorry. My dog was just being playful,” Tina said.

The woman’s husband, if he was indeed her better half, was silent. He was busy ogling Tina, his eyes wandering lustily all over her.

“If I were you I’d chain that pooch before he hurts someone,” the wife added.

“Oh, no need for that. He’s just a curious pup, a baby exploring the world around him,” Tina replied coolly, glancing at the woman’s bloated belly. “Well, got to go. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience.”

Tina smiled to the couple and walked off with Tacky in her arms.


The couple slept heavily in their hotel room. It was past three in the morning. Three hours earlier they chilled in one of the islands many bars then decided to call it a night. Only a lone bedside lamp lit the room. From the shadows in one corner of the room a pair of eyes watched the couple. A pitch-black form of a woman emerged and slowly approached the couple, its hungry eyes fixed on the woman’s bloated belly.


Tina chatted cheerfully with her college friends while they strolled around the island, checking bazaars and shops with Tacky in her arms. A throng of people, a parked police car, and an ambulance outside a pension house caught their curiosity.

“What happened here?” Tina inquired casually from a bystander.

“A couple was found dead in their room,” the woman said. “What makes it really sad is that the woman is pregnant. Authorities say there’s no sign of foul play. Must have died in their sleep.”

“That’s unfortunate,” Tina replied staring at the window of a room on the second floor.