by Benjamin A. Claveria
For years, Piniong had been importuned by relatives and friends to marry. In those days people usually got married in their early teen. But Piniong, then nearing 30, had remained a bachelor although many a girl in the barrio would have been glad to become his wife. After all he was quite good-looking and industrious. And, unlike most of the men in their barrio, he was indifferent to the usual masculine pastime and vices like drinking, cock-fighting, smoking and running after the girls. His main preoccupation was his sugar-cane field and the manufacture and sale of kalamay, or brown sugar molded in coconut shells.

Then one day he went to a neighboring barrio to sell kalamay and got acquainted with a woman named Onang and her pretty daughter Edes, who were selling fruit and vegetables from a pushcart. Edes smiled at Piniong and his long dormant heart suddenly erupted into violent passion. He promised Edes that he would be back with them the next market day.

Piniong kept his promise even if he had only a few kalamays to sell. He spent most of the day helping Edes and her mother. He continued to be with them every market day thereafter whether he had kalamay to sell or not.

One Market day some months later, Edes came alone. She told Piniong that her mother was not feeling well and had to stay at home. In the afternoon, the weather became quite rough so he offered to accompany her home. They had a long lovers' talk on their way to her house almost three kilometers away.

Soon after they reached home, a heavy rain began to fall and the wind became much stronger. Onang, who still had a slight fever, prevailed upon Piniong to stay with them for the night. And Edes, too shy to make the invitation herself, silently seconded her mother by an appealing look at Piniong who was only too glad to accept.

Edes cooked their simple supper. It was then they decided to get married and to ask her mother's consent. And when they noticed that Onang was feeling much better after their meal, they told her what they felt sure she already knew.

Onang gave them her blessings. She told Piniong that they had very few relatives in that place, her late husband having come from the Visayas and that she herself, being an only child like Edes had a few close relatives too. They all agreed to make the wedding as simple as possible. A few weeks afterwards the two were quickly married and Piniong came to live with his wife and his mother-in-law.

At first they were all very happy. Then about a month after the marriage Piniong noted a change in the behavior of his bride. She remained to be a dutiful wife but seemed to grow more and more restless at night. Onang told him that perhaps Edes had become pregnant, but they soon found out that she was not. Edes had also formed the habit of going out of the house late at night supposedly to go to the shed they used as a toilet.

Piniong became curious and suspicious. One midnight when Edes believing that her husband was sound asleep had gone out again, he stealthily followed her and was just in time to see her leap into the air and fly away. like some great bird. The realization that he had married an aswang made him walk back to the house in a state of shock. After thinking a while about what to do, he decided not to confront Edes and to seek advice instead.

The next day he told Edes and Onang that he would go to his sugar-cane field to find out if it was ready for harvest. His real purpose was to consult his wise old grandfather about his problem.

After he had told his grandfather what he had discovered about his bride, the old man warned him not to tell another soul then gave him very explicit instructions on what to do. When he returned home, he told Edes and her mother that a portion of his sugar-cane field was ready to be harvested and that he and Edes should go there the next day.

Very early the next morning without waiting for breakfast, the couple took leave of Onang, saying that they would probably return late in the afternoon and then started on their trip.After they had walked fast for almost an hour, Edes asked, "Are you sure we are on the right path? We seem to be going toward the forest.

Piniong answered that they were taking a short-cut so as to reach their destination before it got too warm. Actually they were moving deeper and deeper into the forest and farther and farther from any human habitation. When they reached a grassy spot under a big tree, Piniong said they would stop and rest, Edes gratefully sat down on a root.

Suddenly, Piniong got one of the ropes he had brought with him and began tying her up. She asked him what he was trying to do but he did not answer. She began to shout for help but of course nobody else could hear her. When she was all trussed up and helpless, he took the end of another rope and tied it around her ankles. Then he tossed the other end over a low-hanging branch and hauled her up head down until she was about half a meter from the ground. He next took another rope, folded it into a whip and began lashing her mercilessly.

Edes was crying, shouting for help and pleading for mercy. Piniong himself was crying out of pity for her. But, following his granfather's instruction, he remained silent and continued to whip her until his arm was very tired and her screams has subsided to a whimper. Suddenly she opened her mouth wide and out of it flew three bird-like creatures shrilly crying kak-kak-kak, kat-kak-kak, kak-kak-kak. They flew toward the thick part of the forest and disappeared there.

Piniong looked at Edes face and was very much supprised to see her smiling. He let her down carefully, untied her and tenderly took her in his arms all the while murmuring endearments and asking for forgiveness. He was even more surprised when he examined her body for injuries and could find not even one tiny welt. When he commented on the strange fact she told him that when he was whipping her, he was really whipping the real aswang inside her.

He told her how he had discovered that she was an aswang and what his grandfather had taught him to do to cure her of her condition. On her part she told him how she had become an aswang.

Edes said that her father's mother was a very old woman when she became so sick that everbody thought she was on the point of death. But for many days she had clung on to life.

Then one night it was Edes' turn to watch her grandmother. About midnight the old woman told her to come near as she had something very important to tell her. She said that she had long wanted to die and rest but that she could not die until she had given something to a relative, and that she had chosen to give it to Edes. Edes had thought that her grandmother would give her a ring or some other valuable piece of jewelry. The old woman told her to come nearer still and open her mouth. When she had obeyed, her grandmother also opened her mouth and our of it had flown what looked like three small birds straight into Edes' mouth. The next instant the old woman died peacefully; but Edes found out that she had become an aswang.

Edes looked lovingly at her husband and told him that she could never thank him enough for being resourceful and brave enough to do what needed to be done to cure her of the sad shameful condition. Then after resting a few more minutes, they went lightheartedly home. They told Onang that Edes had accidentally fallen into a ditch and turn her clothes so they had postponed their trip to some other time and gone home.

The next day, the couple paid a visit and brought a fat hen as a gift to Piniong's grandfather. They told him what had happened to them the previous day and thanked him profusely.

Edes turned out to be a most devoted and affectionate wife and Piniong was always a loving and thoughtful husband. They never had any trouble again about aswang and lived many years happily together.

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



The Claverias 1998-2002. All rights reserved.