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The Aswang Phenomenon

It is estimated that up to 80% of the provincial population of the Philippines believes that the bogeyman is real. They call it the "Aswang." It has been among them for centuries but became truly horrifying after Spanish colonizers enforced the Christian beliefs onto the indigenous people. It comes in many manifestations and performs violent acts against anyone who crosses its path. Is this creature just a myth or are there some elements of truth to these stories of the Aswang? The director, Jordan Clark, was first introduced to the Aswang through a movie made in 1994 in which the Aswang took up residence in rural Wisconsin. Six years later he made his first visit to the Philippines. Like many tourists he spent time in the metropolitan areas, did some shopping, traveled around in the local and abundant transportation, and relaxed on some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. He visited only a few of the thousands of islands and met just a handful of the 97 million people living there. The Philippines is 83% Catholic and having been raised Catholic Jordan understood the strict moral and family values that most Filipinos display. What he didn't understand was their superstitions. He started watching any Philippine folklore movie he could get his hands on and he was again introduced to the Aswang. This creature seemed able to do anything. It could transform into animals, fly, cast magic spells, heal itself and really didn't seem to need a specific food source... pregnant women, the sick or children. Jordan went back to the Philippines to film his interpretation of their folklore. When he finished the movie he realized that without the generalized understanding and acceptance of the Aswang, like many Filipinos have, the movie didn't make sense, so he again tried to answer this lingering question: What is an Aswang?

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