Sunday, April 18, 2010 Beware the Aswang!

From the News Today (Iloilo City, Philippines)
‘Mentally-ill’ hubby beheads sleeping wife

April 14, 2010
By Jennifer Ponsaran-Rendon

A mentally-challenged husband hacked his dozing wife Monday evening inside their home at Sitio Tubudan, Brgy. Igcocolo, some 2-3 meters from Guimbal town proper, Iloilo.

A still perplexed 61-year old Rodolfo Rojo told police investigators that he saw his wife, 70-year old Adela, as an “aswang.”

He narrated that after seeing the “witch,” he got hold of his bolo and hit the “creature.”

According to Guimbal Police Station commander Insp. Jigger Gimeno, the first slash hit the victim’s head.

The second hack, on the other hand, severed the victim’s head from her body.

When responding policemen arrived, Adela’s head was found one meter from her blanketed body.

A few weeks prior to the incident, reports said that the suspect began manifesting signs of mental instability.

“He was allegedly talking no sense and had difficulty sleeping,” Gimeno added.

Before the incident, Rodolfo allegedly asked his wife to allow him to go out.

But Adela insisted against it.

It was surmised that the wife feared that Rodolfo might do something since the latter was showing violent tendencies.

When the victim slept, the suspect began hallucinating leading to the hacking incident, Gimeno added.

After killing his wife, the suspect fled but turned himself over, along with the bolo used, to Guimbal Police Station.

When asked by police investigators, Rodolfo reportedly talked with a lot of inconsistencies.

As this developed, Gimeno claimed that the victim’s family and suspect’s three children are still discussing whether to pursue criminal charges against their father.
I first came across the Filipino term "aswang" in reference to an old favorite fiend, the penanggalan , and the term is used in this way by an eponymous 1994 horror film. However, later research suggested that the name can be applied to just about any variety of nasty supernatural creature, as long as it's female. Using aswang as an appellation for witches, as in this case, seems to be its most common usage. Witchcraft panics involving lynchings and murder occur somewhat frequently in parts of Africa nd Southeast Asia. Let's hope this story doesn't spark another one.

I could swear that I wrote up a long post about the penanggalan, but I can't for the life of me locate it now. Oh well, something else to add to the to-do pile.