Tiniente Gimo, the First Aswang
Who is Tiniente Gimo
He was called Tiniente (Spanish word which means Lieutenant) because he was actually a Tiniente del Barrio, or what Filipinos, in the present day, refer as the Barangay Chairman, of Dueñas in Iloilo. He may also be a leader of the family of Aswang from which he acquired the title.
Because of the legend about him, many stories made him a antagonist as the blood-sucking villain, a leader of a group and/or clan of Aswangs. Perhaps, the effect of this tales created a bad image to every people, and versions of his story was created.
Actually, there were stories from internet that tell about the experience of their grandparents in his village, that they were certain they were ghoul-vampires, and many more.
One of the teniente's daughters studied in a university in the city. During a break, this daughter invited two of her classmates to come to her hometown for a visit. The young ladies agreed, excited at the prospect of going to a town they had never visited before.
They were greeted with enthusiasm by the teniente's family and as was customary in the Philippines, a small party was prepared. The lady visitors were fed and entertained. As the night grew deeper, one of the young ladies asked (let's call her Juana) what the sleeping arrangements would be. Gimo's daughter said that the visitors would be sharing a room with her.
And so off to bed they went. Because they were in a small town, no big beds were available so they all agreed to sleep on mats on the floor. Juana slept in the middle, tucked in between Gimo's daughter and their friend.
The two girls soon drifted off to sleep but Juana found that tired as she was, she just couldn't bring herself to sleep. Filipinos refer to this feeling as 'namamahay', which is when your body and mind are still in the process of adjusting to a new environment and thus cannot perform a certain routine. This was what prevented Juana from sleeping. It was also what kept her alive.
The party went on outside even as the night deepened but to Juana, instead of fading away, the noise just seemed to get a little bit louder. She heard more people coming, being greeted, there were sounds of suppressed laughter, soft giggles and whispers. "Must be the party for tomorrow," she thought. "They're really throwing a big one."
Since she couldn't sleep anyway, Juana decided to get up and take a peek at the activities through the window. When she lifted the cover, what she saw stirred fear in her heart. On the clearing not far from the house, people were gathered together in a circle – a few women were busy cutting spices and vegetables, some men were talking and drinking while others were sharpening knives. There were children as well. And there, through the shrubs, more people were coming.
In the middle of the circle was a fire and over the fire was a larger-than-usual iron cauldron. If these people were going to cook, they were going to cook something big – bigger than a full-grown chicken or a goat.
Just then, Juana heard Teniente Gimo's voice just on the other side of the wall, talking to another man.
"So which one is it?" the man asked.
"The one in the middle and the other one's on the right," Teniente Gimo said.
"Okay. I'll bring three or four along in case there's a struggle."
"Let's just hit her on the head. Keep her quiet that way."
"And bring the sack to carry her with. We'll take care of the other one."
Juana didn't need to hear any more just to understand what the two men were discussing. The 'one in the middle' they were referring to was her! The fire and the iron cauldron, all those vegetables and spices the women were preparing, the sack… they intended to butcher her and her friend!
Juana's survival instinct kicked in. She debated for a while on whether to wake up her friend or not but the men were coming up the stairs and if her friend woke up suddenly, there's no telling what she would say or do. They could both be in bad trouble if she delayed for another second.
Juana hurried back to the sleeping girls on the floor, pushed Gimo's daughter towards the middle, lay on the girl's right and covered everyone's head with the wide blanket. That way, the heads were hidden underneath. She tried to calm herself to prevent from shaking. Soon the door opened slowly and noiselessly.
Juana didn't know how many men came for Teniente Gimo's daughter that night. All she felt and heard were soft footsteps, a few whispers and a loud thud as they hit the young girl on the head. They were very quiet, as if they were used to doing what they did. They didn't even wake up her friend, who was sleeping so soundly just an arm's length away from Juana. Teniente Gimo's daughter lay moaning next to her.
The men quickly wrapped the bleeding girl in the sack and carried her away.
After the men had left the room, Juana got up, tried to wake her friend for the last time, failed and decided to go at it alone. She opened the window across the one facing the clearing where they were presently beating the body inside the sack and carefully but fearfully climbed down.
As soon as her bare feet touched solid ground, Juana began to run. She didn't care where she was passing through – all she knew was that the main road was in that direction. She hadn't gotten far when she heard shouts and screams from the group. They had opened the sack and found out the terrible mistake they made.
Enraged, Teniente Gimo cried for everyone to check the house, find the girl, THE girl they wanted, she who was supposed to be in the middle, she who was supposed to be in the sack, she who was supposed to be the one they should be prepping tonight, she whose throat they should have slit.
Behind her, Juana heard the commotion and simply assumed that people were now climbing the stairs, opening the door to the daughter's room and finding that only one was left behind and the other had run away. It would only be a matter of time before they found out where she was headed. So Juana kept on running over the grass, the rocks, the pebbles that cut her feet, the sharp thorns of the shrubs and the slimy dead things underneath her.
But those who were in pursuit of her were men – grown men, men taller than she, with longer legs, with strength stolen from the other men and women they had slaughtered before her poor friend. As the men with the torches began to gain on her, Juana felt panic rise from her legs to her heart, threatening to turn her legs to stone. She could never outrun these men and if she could hide, where? They probably knew this area very well and could find her easily.
But right in front of her, a tree stood. It was tall enough but not so tall that she couldn't climb it and it looked strong, with a thick truck and even thicker leaves. Juana had no memory of how she managed to climb the tree that night but there she cowered, shaking, mouthing prayers for the Virgin to protect her, to please not let them see her, hear her, smell her.
The voices grew nearer and so did the footfalls. Not only the men came in pursuit. There were a few women as well, some of them holding torches, some gripping a thick tree branch and others, still holding on to the knives they used to cut the onions and the tomatoes. Light from the torches illuminated the branches and the leaves of the tree as the mob passed underneath her. If one of them ever looked up…
But no one did. The crowd of angry men and women who tried to come after her came and went. They couldn't find her. A few hours later, which seemed an eternity to Juana, they came back again, walking this time, tired and hungry, their torches fading but they came a few feet away, no longer passing under Juana's tree.
Although the crowd had gone, Juana stayed hidden in the tree. She waited for the dark sky to turn gray and very carefully, painfully climbed down. No one was in sight and she was too far away to actually hear anything from where Teniente Gimo's hut stood. Besides, it was morning and if they did party on last night, they would be too full and tired to care today. Juana brushed the thought of her other friend, the one she left behind, away and began to run again, towards the main road.
At this point, I no longer remember how Juana got help. Maybe she stopped a passing bus or jeepney or maybe a person with a good soul came across the fearful girl with the wild eyes. But she did get help and she did find her way home, safe and alive. She never went back to the town of Dueñas, not even to see if the tree that saved her life still stood.
As for Teniente Gimo and his clan of aswangs, it is said that the incident devastated him. It was his own beloved daughter after all. They packed up and abbandoned their home and moved someplace else. Where he and his family are now is only whispered about and whether they are still hunting and luring human prey, it can only be guessed at. Who knows? They could be in your town.
Another version, which is more brief than the latter, and more known by everyone:
Tiniente Gimo's daughter Maria (not her real name) brought his two friends, Jean and Melay (not also there real names) from the city to visit her hometown and her family. They accepted them warmly and served them with foods, as if there was a celebration.
The two loved the food and ask them what kind of dish it is. But they answered them with only a smile.
After hours passed full of chattering, they decided to sleep. But because the house is small and there's only one room for everyone, Tiniente Gimo told Maria and her friends to sleep in the bed room, while they will sleep in the living room.
Like other girls, when they are together, they don't sleep right away. Maria borrowed the accessories of Jean, and wear them till they went to sleep.
Tiniente Gimo targeted Jean that night, and the only thing he could familiarize who among of them is Jean, is her necklace. However, Maria weared the necklace of Jean that time. He sneaked unto the bed room to kill her. He hit the head not knowing it was his daughter, and brought her in the kitchen. He chopped her to pieces, and cooked her in a pot.
Tiniente Gimo discovered who he had eaten when morning came.
No one knows what happened to Jean and Melay after that. Maybe they lived to tell the story of Tiniente Gimo.
As you notice, both tales almost have similar flow of story. In which, there was these two women, who were friends of the daughter of Tiniente Gimo, came in the province with her for vacation or the like, and was killed by the tiniente or his whole clan. Some sources tell that they were teachers from a school, not students. Aside of it, the movie Shake, Rattle and Roll, potrayed by Manilyn Reynes, had almost the same story as above.
Many reasonable explanations emerged about the legend of Tiniente Gimo. One is about his political career. His enemy invented a kind of story that rose people's fear.
Another is about the kind of disease they called Dystonia de Panay (scientifically named torsion dystonia-parkinsonism), Ilonggo called it Lubag. This is a rare musco-skeletal disease found only in Panay, in which the victim will be twist involuntarily. Maybe, the appearance of them in this position made them look like an Aswang, and this might be Tiniente Gimo's disease that time. This same reason can be used to explain the Aswang.
Last Updated: February 10, 2016
Photo credit to the owner
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