At the entrance of the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras Friday morning as my asawa and niece JalAmiel were going to meet Brother Tom for lunch and then go on a trip to his farmhouse in Guimaras (more on that story in a future post), two little girls waved to us as we drove by them in our tricycle. I waved back and made it a point to stop by later to see what the young ladies were selling at their table. I was quite surprised to see that they had several types of bracelets called "karmin" which offers babies protection from being eaten by aswangs. And no, I am not making any of this up and have not been drinking any bottles of Gold Eagle beer.
According to Wikipedia, the aswang is an inherently evil vampire-like creature and is the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories, the details of which vary greatly. Spanish colonizers noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines, even in the 16th century. Aswang sightings are quite common in our Western Visayas region and one was even spotted on a roof in Iloilo last year along with some aliens from outer space. And again, I am not making this up. When my wife was in the third grade, her family was attacked by an aswang in the middle of the jungle in Guimaras.
The 10-year-old Filipina on the right and her 7-year-old shy sister, are part Negrito, according to my wife, an ethnic group which make up the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other tribes of the Philippines (source Wikipedia.) Such nice girls, the one on the right was quite the salesperson. I ended up buying a karmin bracelet for my niece at a cost of P30 (70 cents) that the salesgirl is holding up and a P20 (47 cents) special talisman for myself which my wife says is to be used for babies only. I didn't care. I wanted it. Also purchased a handmade coin purse for P20. The 10-year-old added up all of my sales with her calculator.
There was no sign of any parents nearby to monitor the children, but since the girls were on the grounds of the Monastery surrounded by monks and visitors, the young salesgirls were in a fairly safe environment. I wore my aswang charm the rest of the afternoon and the next day until my wife demanded I remove it when we went to visit the only notary public on the whole island of Guimaras to get some paperwork for my upcoming 13(a) Permanent Visa notarized. For some reason my aswang protector really annoys her (all the more reason for me to pin it on my t-shirt occasionally. I'm sure none of you husbands out there ever do anything to deliberately irritate your asawa.)