Of all the weird creatures lurking on the shelves in my cryptozoology library, the bizarre beasts originating in the mythology of the Philippines are among the strangest. One example is the Kapre — a fuzzy, cigar smoking giant. The foul-smelling Sigbin uses its grasshopper-like legs to jump after the children it devours — it likes to make amulets from their tiny little hearts.
As weird as these examples might seem, they’re not really as weird as the Aswang — a creature that is utterly feared, but also so widely interpreted in terms of its appearance and behaviors that it’s very difficult to get a handle on exactly what we’re talking about, when we’re talking about the Aswang.
The Aswang is an all-purpose boogeyperson that nearly always combines two main attributes: It can shape-shift, and it eats people. The creature is known primarily as an eater of unborn children, but is also said to be fond of the entrails in general. It’s sometimes depicted as a ghoulish humanoid female with a long tongue-like apparatus that’s used for snagging fetuses, but other descriptions veer wildly from this one.
Here’s an extremely entertaining and informative documentary that will help you keep your Aswang sorted-out: