-like creature in Philippine folklore
. There are several variations, depending on the locality. By day, the aswang is a female
human (usually beautiful). At night, it detaches from its lower body (most descriptions say the creature has "no legs."). This half-creature has the ability to fly
. Most of the renderings I have seen depict the creature as missing everything below the torso
The creature has a penchant for children, especially unborn babies. It seeks out pregnant women (sometimes with the aid of birds). It has a long, slithering tongue, which it inserts into a sleeping woman's uterus, to suck out the child. The aswang usually appears bloated (as if pregnant) after feeding.
Some different local variations say the creature slithers on the ground, has bat-like wings, and can transform into a white dog. Some say the creatures floats (rather than flies). Others add that if the aswang licks a person's shadow, the person will soon die.
This creature is probably the same thing as the manananggal, but I've only heard it referred to as this. As a small child, visiting the Philippines, this is what relatives would use to scare my siblings and I to sleep. Of course, it usually had the opposite effect. This creature is commonly found in Filipino horror comics and other media. Most of the population seems to treat the aswang like the Western world treats the vampire - pure fiction. However, in the rural areas of the country, the more superstitious folk take more stock in it.
This is merely a conjecture, but the creature seems to be a merging of older folklore with the vampire folklore, probably brought by the Spanish colonizers. Commonly depicted ways of thwarting the aswang involves holy water and crucifixes, and that is ubdoubtedly a Catholic influence.