Maria Labo: The Legendary Aswang of The Philippines

Taken from a blog:

The ballad of Maria Labo-the thing is, the story of Maria Labo has found its way in the local papers so most probably, this story was partly true. This story caused a stir in the city some 5 years ago. It was about a young woman named Maria who went to Canada to be a caregiver. Before she went abroad, she had taken care of an elderly man who was said to have possessed the so-called "aswang" curse. When the old man died, he passed his powers to Maria.


Finding no luck in Canada, Maria went home. It was then that her thirst for human flesh started there. When her husband, a policeman, went home one night, he was looking for their kids. It was said that the deranged Maria pointed to the stove where she said she cooked her children. Enraged, her husband struck her with a bolo ("labo") where she obtained a scar on her face, earning her the monicker Maria Labo. it was said that she fled to Visayas, then to Mindanao, in a quest to satiate her hunger for human flesh and viscera. Like a typical aswang, she has the ability to change her appearance. sometimes she appears as a beautiful young lass... at other times, she appears as an old woman. I even managed to obtain her cellphone number but all I heard was some growl of some animal or something...

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OLD BELIEFS

Before modern medicine and science, aswangs served to explain miscarriages and other maladies. Today, aside from entertainment value, Filipino mothers often tell their children aswang stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night.

Like UFO stories, aswang stories are one of the favorites of sensationalist tabloids, especially when there are grave robberies, kidnapped children, strange noises, people with eccentric or peculiar habits, and other bizarre incidents that can somehow be attributed to them.

Stories of the aswang are popular in the Visayan region of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz (a province on Panay Island), Iloilo and Antique. Capiz, in particular, is singled out by tabloids as an area of high supernatural activity: a home to aswangs, manananggals, giant half-horse men (tikbalang) and other mythological creatures. Many of those who live in Capiz are superstitiously inclined, and adorn their homes with garlic bulbs, holy water and other objects believed to repel aswang. Since the stories recount aswang eating unborn children, pregnancy is a time of great fear for superstitious Filipinos.

In Southern Luzon, the city of Antipolo is rumoured by locals to be a popular place for Aswang sightings, especially during the Holy Week, where legend says that paranormal activities are at their peak during the three days that Christ was dead.
Some have contended that the aswang is the progenitor of many classified cryptozoological species. 


An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a mythical creature in Filipino folklore. The aswang is an inherently evil vampire-like creature and is the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories. Spanish colonists noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines, even in the 16th century.

The myth of the aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the Ilocos region, which is the only region that does not have an equivalent myth. It is especially popular in the Western Visayan regions such as Capiz, Iloilo, Negros, Bohol, Masbate, Aklan, Antique. Other regional names for the aswang include "tik-tik", "wak-wak" and "soc-soc".

The wide variety of descriptions in the aswang stories make it difficult to settle upon a fixed definition of aswang appearances or activities. However, several common themes that differentiate aswangs from other mythological creatures do emerge: Aswangs are shapeshifters. Stories recount aswangs living as regular townspeople. As regular townspeople, they are quiet, shy and elusive. At night, they transform into creatures such as a cat, pig, bird, or most often, a dog. They enjoy eating unborn fetuses and small children, favoring livers and hearts. Some have long proboscises, which they use to suck the children out of their mothers' wombs or their homes.

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Some are so thin that they can hide themselves behind a bamboo post. They are fast and silent. Some also make noises, like the Tik-Tik, (the name was derived from the sound it produces) which are louder the further away the aswang is, to confuse its potential victim; and the Bubuu, an aggressive kind of aswang that makes a sound of a laying hen at midnight. They may also replace their live victims or stolen cadavers with doppelgangers made from tree trunks or other plant materials. This facsimile will return to the victim's home, only to become sick and die. An aswang will also have bloodshot eyes, the result of staying up all night searching for houses where wakes are held to steal the bodies.

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