Romansang Aswang: A Portrait of the Aswang in Two Plays

Nicole Lasquety
4 min readSep 25, 2023
“Romansang Aswang”, Oil on canvas, 24" x 24", 2023

I once joked to a friend that maybe the reason people back in the day came up with the manananggal was because of excruciating period pain, considering how they probably didn’t have readily accessible medicine for quick relief. In some stories, the manananggal or aswang is said to feed on unwanted babies, and yet the aswang herself is… a mother? But one of the most common things the aswang is associated with are corrupt politicians who are supposedly inherently greedy and evil parasites that are anything but human. It makes one wonder, what could possibly be the real story of the very first aswang if it is even possible to trace it back? What was the motive for conjuring up this creature in the first place? How in the world did they get everyone to believe in the aswang, something which they have never seen? Or have they? With all these versions of the story, what has the aswang evolved into today? Or did people simply forget about the aswang?

Someone once spelled out the difference between a hero and a villain this way: a hero would sacrifice you to save the world, while a villain would sacrifice the world to save you. The play Ang Unang Aswang tells the story of the latter. In this story, a young girl grew up in the wilderness, away from people other than her female caretaker. The one chance she met a man and fell in love, she later learned that he already had a family of his own. Her desire for revenge conflicted with the love she felt for this man. He was still special to her for making her feel what no one ever has, and yet she was convinced that the entire human race–his race–were all the same, deceitful just as him. But more importantly, she was convinced that she was just anyone else in his eyes. As a punishment, she cursed the human race and swore to haunt everyone until the only one left was this man. It could be said then, that the awang is someone who is only part human, if she can even be called that. With equal parts love and equal parts hate feeding on each other, it is hard to tell where the aswang ends and the human begins. You might as well split them in half to save yourself the trouble of treading the fine line.

While Ang Unang Aswang tells us a tragic origin story, Luna: An Aswang Romance tells us the story of two halves becoming whole, figuratively and literally. In this story, the…

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Nicole Lasquety

A visual artist and writer with a passion for media exploration, where big ideas are commonplace. Art, theater, personal essays. lasquetynicole@gmail.com