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THE ASWANG AND THE PARATAGAK
by Benjamin A. Claveria
There once lived in a remote barrio a farmer named Doro and Ipay, his wife, Ipay was a paratagak one who knots abaca fiber to be woven into purao or abaca cloth. She , used to do this far into the night. One midnight she was occupied, and there was nobody else awake in the neighborhood. Doro had gone to sleep right after supper, tired after a day's plowing. Ipay had already filled a big kararao or basket woven out of karagomoy leaves and was about to stop working when an aswang swooped down on her and carried her away to the house of the aswangs in the mountains.

When Doro woke up early the next morning, he looked for his wife but could not find her. He saw that the window beside which she had been knotting abaca when he had gone to sleep was still open, and the coconut-oil lamp she had used was still burning, but the kararao full of knotted abaca was now empty and strand of knotted abaca streched from it toward the mountains as far as he could see. He realized that Ipay had been carried off by an aswang and that she had held on the end of the knotted abaca as she was borne away by her captor.

Doro spent the whole morning sharpening his big bolo, a minasbad, to a razor's edge. Then after lunch, he filled his pocket with lemoncito or kalamansi, buckled on his minasbad and set out to follow the strand of knotted abaca from his house to the mountains. He felt sure it would lead him to the house of the aswangs and his wife.

It was getting dark when he reached the aswangs' house. He hid behind a clump of bushes nearby to watch . As soon as the moon rose, Doro saw the aswangs come out of the house and fly away in different directions. He counted 32 of them. He continued to watch the house patiently, not sure what to do next. About two hours before dawn, the aswangs started coming back, some carrying burdens that looked suspiciously like human bodies. When Doro counted 32, he moved closer to the house.

At first there was a lot of noise inside. When the noise stopped, Doro assumed that the aswangs had gone to sleep, exhausted by their devilish nocturnal expiditions. Noiselessly he crept up the stairs and entered the house. Near the door he saw a very old aswang curled up inside a bakol, a big shallow basket made of rattan. He asked her where her companions were and she mumbled that they were all asleep in the next room.

Doro next asked her what her work was and she said that she was in charge of watching the house and keeping the keys to the different rooms. He ordered her to give the keys to him but she refused. So Doro unsheathed his minasbad and threatened to kill her if she did not obey. The old aswang took a bundle of keys from a hole in the wall behind her and handed it to him. Doro promptly cut off her head and smeared the stump of her neck with lemoncito juice. He knew that this was the only way of preventing another aswang from replacing the head on the body and licking the wound, thus making the old aswang whole and alive again.

Using the keys he had obtained, Doro opened the door to the next room. There he saw the aswangs neatly lined up sound asleep, then with his minasbad, which was so sharp he had merely to slide his blade across the neck of the sleeping aswangs, he killed all of them. Afterward he carefully smeared all the wounds with lemoncito juice.

Doro next opened the other doors and freed the people that the aswangs had carried away. Among them was his wife. Some of the rooms contained money and jewelry. He gathered them all into a sack to carry home. The people Doro had rescued were very grateful to him. He gave each of them some money and told them that they would all go home together. Before starting home, however, Doro set a fire to the house of the aswangs.

Doro and Ipay became rich and prosperous. And when the women in the barrio learned what had happened to Ipay, they made sure never to knot abaca by an open window at midnight.

Aswang: Introduction
The Aswang and the Paratagak
Iblas and His Aswang Neighbor
Aswang, Genuine and Bogus
Uncle Kiyo and the Aswang
The Aswang Bride


 

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