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IBLAS AND HIS ASWANG NEIGHBOR
by Benjamin A. Claveria
Blas and Presentacion, a newly married couple, went to live in a distant barrio where most of the houses were scattered far from one another. As was customary in that place, people seldom referred to each other by their baptismal names. They must have thought Blas too short, for they changed it to Iblas, and Presentacion too long, for they changed it to Tason.

One night Tason told Iblas that they had no more water in the house; so he took their bongbong, a length of bamboo which they used as a water jar and went to the small river nearby. Near the river bank he heard a rustling coming from the bamboo thicket. Silently he walked toward the source of the noise to find out what was causing it as there was no wind blowing at all. By the light of the moon, he saw a man get a small bamboo tube from its hiding place among the bamboo trunks.

Iblas became more curious. He hid behind some bushes to find out what the man was up to. When the moonlight became brighter, he recognized the man as his neighbor, Generoso, popularly known as Osoy. He was dressed only in shorts. He took them off and stood stark naked in the soft moonlight. Then he removed the coconut-husk stopper of the bambooo tube and raised his left arm above his head. With the fingers of his right hand, he scooped up some of the contents of the tube and rubbed it on the left side of his body from the tip of the little finger to the tip of the little toe. After that he lifted his right arm and in the same manner rubbed some of the contents of the tube on the right side of his body with his left hand. Next he jumped up to the height of a man and stayed up a few seconds before descending to the ground. He repeated the rubbing process first on the left side, then on the right side of his body, then jumped up to the height of a tall coconut tree before coming down again. A third time he repeated the rubbing process, then carefully replaced the coconut husk cover of the tube before putting it back in its hiding place. Finally, he put on his shorts, leaped into the air and flew swiftly out of sight.

Iblas realized that Osoy was an aswang. He went to the bamboo clump and took the bamboo tube Osoy had hidden. When he removed the cover, he found out that it contained a black, sticky, very foul-smelling substance. He replaced the cover and put back the 'tube' in its hiding place.

When he was walking home with the water he had fetched, Iblas decided not to tell his wife what he had seen.. He knew very well that if he did, Tason would never consent to being left alone in their house even in broad daylight.

The next morning, however, he decided to confront Osoy. He went to Osoy's house almost a kilometer away and told him what he had seen the previous night. Osoy admitted at once that he was an aswnag. But he entreated Iblas not to tell anyone about it, not even Tason. He said that anyway he was not a bad aswang as he did not cause anybody any trouble. Iblas reluctantly promised not to reveal Osoy's secret.

About a week later Iblas and Osoy met while they were about to tether their carabaos for the night. When Iblas happened to mention that Tason was complaining because they had no fish or meat to eat with their rice, Osoy asked him, "Why don't we go together to our town market and buy some fish?

Iblas answered, "Our town market is three kilometers away. How could we come back in time for supper?"

"Leave that to me," Osoy replied."In fact, I think we had better go to the market in the next town. Prices are cheaper there. Just tell Tason that you will go to my house because I promised to give you some fish. Then meet me near the bamboo thicket by the river."

Iblas agreed. He went home and told his wife that he would procure some fish for her from Osoy who had promised to give him some.

Osoy had already made the necessary preparations for flight and made Iblas get on his back at once as soon as he arrived at the river bank away they flew. They travelled fast and soon reached their destination. They stopped on a vacant lot a short distance from the public market of the neighboring town. Osoy said he would wait there while Iblas bought some fish.

When Iblas returned with the roasted talosogs or mudfish he had bought they started on their journey home. On the way, however, Osoy saw a brightly lighted house and told Iblas they would stop there a short time only as there was something he had to do. They alighted in a dark orchard behind the house and, after telling Iblas to wait, Osoy went under the house from which could be heard high-pitched voices chanting the Pasion, a Bikol book in verse form about the life of Christ, which is the common tao's Bible. The Pasion was usually chanted only in a house where there was a dead person, except during the Lenten Season when it was not only chanted everywhere but also performed as a religious drama called tanggal.

While Iblas was waiting under a tree, a ripe lemoncito happended to fall on his head. Thinking that some ripe lemoncitos would go well with the talosogs he had bought, he climbed the tree, picked some of the fruit and put them in his pocket. About ten minutes later, Osoy came back from the house and they resumed their interrupted journey.

Very soon, however, Osoy found great difficulty in proceeding. He complained that Iblas had become too heavy and asked him if he happened to have any lemoncito with him. When Iblas said that his pocket was full of them, Osoy told him to throw all of them away at once, otherwise they would never get home that night . Iblas did so and a short time later they were standing near the bamboos on the river bank. Iblas took his share of the fish and went home while Osoy took a bath in the river . Tason expressed surprise that her husband had returned so soon. Iblas told her that he had run part of the way. Tason also told him that he must have touched or stepped on some foul-smelling substance and suggested that he wash his hands and feet thoroughly before their supper.

Iblas never told anyone that Osoy was an Aswang. After all, not many persons could experience the thrill of flying in those days before the airplane was invented. Iblas often took advantage of the speedy means of transportation a grateful Osoy gladly furnished him any time he wanted. But he never forgot to take a bath first after flying with Osoy, before going near his wife or any other person.

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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