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An Mga Asuwang: A Bicol Belief by Francis X. Lynch S.J.


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THE ASWANG is the most famous creature in Philippine Mythology and Folklore. Most of what we know regarding this amorphous folkloric being were studied and compiled in this 1949 paper by Francis X. Lynch S.J. This study went on to be used as the foundation for other famous work on the aswang, particularly "The Aswang Inquiry" by GCF Books and "The Aswang Complex in Philippine Folklore" by Maximo Ramos.

Stories and beliefs about witches and witchcraft can be found in every part of the world. Almost every country can claim a generous share of them, and the Philippines is no exception. Here we possess our own traditional ideas on the subject, handed down through countless generations from our ancestors, and still very much alive today. In this paper the writer intends to set down beliefs of this sort which are current in one part of the Philippines, the Bicol region.

It was by chance that the writer first heard of the asuw�ng. Subsequent inquiries during two years in the Bicol region revealed the existence of a very interesting if somewhat complex group of beliefs and half-beliefs concerning this witchlike class of human beings which, in Bicol, are designated an mga asuw�ng.

In the Bicol region - as throughout most of the Philippine lowlands - belief in the asuw�ng is a living belief. It is a belief kept alive by the stories told the children by their parents and grandparents; by the traditional explanations of a scratching on the roof by night, a shadow flitting across the near-full moon, or the cry of the bird of ill omen. Asuw�ng stories are dismissed as nonsense by a few, doubted as unproved by many, accepted as true by most. Whether the belief is justified or not, it is there. In the following pages will be found an attempt to synthesize the content of that belief as it exists in the principal towns of the provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay.



Meaning of the generic term asuw�ng

Kinds of asuw�ng

Becoming an asuw�ng

Characteristics of asuw�ng

Restoration of asuw�ng to normal human state

Measures taken against asuw�ng

Functions of the asuw�ng belief

Additional information


Francis X. Lynch, S.J.






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