Halloween is here, a time to scare yourself silly over horror flicks.
In Philippine cinema, this means vicariously meeting mythical creatures as engkantos, duwende, tiyanak, kapre, manananggal, tikbalang and the star of the show, the aswang.
Aswangs are described as shape-shifters. They are physically like humans by day then change appearance by night to feed on prey (probably you, boo).
Several movies have aswangs living as regular folk albeit quiet, shy and elusive. By sundown, they transform into creatures such as a bat, bird (usually a crow), wild boar, black cat, or most often, a big black dog.
They eat 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 when they are sleeping in their homes. Some are so thin that they can hide themselves behind a bamboo post. They move fast but silently.
The following are Filipino actors who’ve played aswangs in movies and on TV.
Cristine Reyes played Elisa, an aswang, in the 2009 Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Ang Darling Kong Aswang.” Her leading man? No less than Vic Sotto.
The comedy-horror film is about Victor (Vic), a single father who falls in love with Elisa (Cristine) who turns out to be an aswang. But even so, Victor loves Elisa so much that he accepts who she is and even lives with her as his second wife.
Problem comes when the leader of the Aswang clan (Jean Garcia) finds out that Elisa and her mother (Agot Isidro) don’t eat humans anymore. She sends out other Aswangs to hunt the two down, and also Victor and his family.
Victor faces the leader of the aswang clan to save his beloved Elisa.
“Ang Darling Kong Aswang” won the third Best Picture at the festival.
Do you want to know the origin of aswangs? Watch “Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang.”
With Erich Gonzales in the title role, the film is about the love story of a married couple having a hard time conceiving a child during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. After joining traditional fertility rites in honor of certain patron saints, their prayers are answered but unexpected circumstances lead to their baby’s death.
Directed by Richard Somes, “Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang” was one of the 20 top grossings Filipino films in 2016 and was the most successful independent film of the same year in terms of box-office performance.
Back in the ’90s, Alma Moreno also ate humans on screen in the film “Aswang.”
Alma plays the aswang attacking residents of a remote barrio. Catlyn (Aiza Seguerra) and her yaya Veron, played by Manilyn Reynes are accompanied to the countryside by Dudoy, the family driver played by Berting Labra. As they journey, they encounter strange and brutal murders only to find out that the barrio is being infested and attacked by an aswang. Later, Catlyn falls victim.
After portraying an evil nun in Erik Matti’s 2017 MMFF entry “Seklusyon,” where she won Best Supporting Actress, Phoebe Walker played a seductive aswang in the horror mini-series “Tabi Po.” It aired on Cignal TV’s Sari-Sari Channel.
Directed by Paul Basinillo and based on Mervin Malonzo’s best-selling graphic novel, “Tabi Po” is set in Spanish colonial era. Phoebe plays Sabel, one of two aswangs (the other being Tasyo played by Adrian Alandy) who takes a reluctant neophyte named Elias (AJ Muhlach) under their wing.
In 2011, director Jerrold Tarog did a remake of Alma Moreno’s film of the same name with Lovi Poe in the lead role of aswang.
The film featured a type of aswang called “Abwak.” It can transform from human to a raven-like creature that could fly and move underground to stalk its victim. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, praising its cinematography and narrative, particularly Lovi’s performance.
LJ Reyes played aswang in the 2012 action-horror comedy adventure film “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles,” written and directed by Erik Matti.
The film also stars Dingdong Dantes, Lovi Poe, Joey Marquez, Janice de Belen and Roi Vinzon. Dingdong’s company AgostoDos Pictures served as one of the producers.
It is the first full-length Filipino film entirely shot on green screen chroma key. The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics who praised its visual effects while panning the plot. “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” was followed up with a sequel in “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2” in 2014 which was also directed by Erik.
Iza Calzado played nanny by day and aswang by night to Sheryl Cruz’s son in one of the episodes of the movie “Shake, Rattle And Roll 8.” It was an official entry to the 32nd Metro Manila Film Festival.
Mischievous child prankster Benjo (Nash Aguas) sends many nannies packing and resigning. When his mother Grace (Sheryl) hires a new nanny named Cecil (Iza), Benjo promises to stop his mean pranks. Although things seemed normal at first, Benjo becomes suspicious about Cecil; evidenced was shown when the family’s pet dog dog Toby barks mad at her on her arrival.
At school, a determined Benjo sought help from his teacher Mel (TJ Trinidad), telling him everything about his Cecil’s demonic nature and the attempt that happened last night to his sister. Mel reveals to Benjo that garlic is only weapon to repel aswangs.
“Shake, Rattle And Roll 8” was an official entry to the 32nd Metro Manila Film Festival.
Zsa Zsa Padilla
This singer-actress played Laura, the queen of aswangs, in the 2013 TV series “Juan Dela Cruz.”
It starred Coco Martin as Juan dela Cruz, a half-tagabantay and half-aswang trained to become the next Tagabantay and serves as a hero to protect people.
After three weeks of airing, “Juan Dela Cruz” quickly rose to becoming one of the most successful action fantasy-drama of all-time. It registered 42.6% viewership ratings nationwide according to a data released by Kantar Media.
In a small village, people think an evil creature lives among them.
True enough as Jean Garcia is aswang in “Impaktita.”
In 1991, the late Lilia Cuntapay played the spooky nanny of Kris Aquino’s character in “Shake Rattle & Roll 3.” The following year, she was cast to play a character identified as an “aswang” – a role for which she would later be typecast in many subsequent movie appearances.
These earned her the title “Queen of Philippine Horror Movies.” Lilia found acclaim for her first leading role, in the film “Six Degrees Of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay,” which won her an award as Best Actress in the 2011 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival.
Tags: 10 stars who’ve terrified viewers by playing aswang, Erich Gonzales, horror movies, Iza Calzado, Lilia Cuntapay, LJ Reyes, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Rattle And Roll 8”, Seklusyon, Zsa Zsa Padilla, “Abwak”, “Aswang”, “Shake, “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles”