January 24, 1998 Aswang News in Caloocan City

Lung ailment, not aswang killed baby, says doc

ASWANG, in the city? Not really. The Caloocan City police assured terrorized residents of Dagat-Dagatan yesterday that the area is not infested with aswang, the human flesh-eating creature of Philippine folklore. The statement came following reports that an old female aswang devoured a newborn baby boy residing in the area early Wednesday morning. Police investigators clarified that the immediate cause of the death of three-week-old Dave Nagawa is broncho-pneumonia, the inflammation of the lungs. Dave was found by her mother Leonor already stiff at around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday inside their house at Block 39, Lot 7, Sabalo Street, Kaunlaran Village, Dagat-Dagatan. Leonor, 21, said she could not explain why her baby's mouth and nose were oozing with blood. Lumps were also found in Dave's head, neck and left shoulder. "We were shocked; he [Dave] was a healthy baby. He did not even get sick from the day he was born," Leonor said.

Her husband Edwin added that Leonor had even played with Dave the night before he died. "But when we woke up early [Wednesday] morning, he [Dave] was already stiff," he said. The baby's death remained a mystery because the couple has yet to receive the death certificates, inflaming the superstitious beliefs of the neighbors, most of whom hailed from the allegedly aswang-infested provinces in southern Philippines. But some' neighbors claimed having proof. A girl alleged seeing a fierce-looking old woman at the roof of the Nagawa's house during the early morning that Dave died. Reports quoted a certain Roselle Echano, nine, as describing the old woman as having very long hair, wrinkled skin and reddish, glowering eyes. These descriptions aptly fit the portrayal of the supernatural being in Philippine folklore. Moreover, when some neighbors scaled thereof, they reportedly discovered blood-stains that led to a small opening in the couple's room.

"The aswang could have sucked the baby's blood," the neighbors said. Leonor herself recalled that their neighbors used to say during her pregnancy that an old woman was frequently seen on their roof every night. "But I did not buy it, I thought it was all hearsay," she said. Still, intense terror gripped the residents that barangay tanods kept watch the night after the incident occurred.

So intense it failed to escape media attention. Too intense that city police chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao ordered his investigators to "verify" and present feedback on the incident. Investigators Senior Police Officer I Romeo Onte and Police Officer I Joel Aquino dug into the mystery only to find out that nothing mysterious surrounded the baby's death. The policemen discovered . that Dave di'ed.of naturals causes, particularly of broncho-pneumonia, as verified by' Caloocan City Medical Officer 4 Dr. Isidore Ayson. Ayson furthered that the lung disease caused the baby's bleeding. Aquino said the Nagawal couple also "verbally denounced" the reports, claiming that their son was not a victim of a "witch." Moreover, a certain Rodelia Echano, 14, the victim's neighbor and probably Roselle's sister, said that she saw not an old woman but a big cat on the roof of the couple at around 2 a.m. Wednesday. End of the story? Not quite. Some Dagat-Dagatan residents just refuse to bury the issue, claiming that there is indeed an aswang in the area. Not a few residents have been buying extra garlic, the alleged aswang repellent.

Sharon Lansangan, 15, the victim's aunt, is sure that her nephew was killed by the aswang which lingered about on their roof. "Before Dave died, I heard noise on the roof. It could not be a cat or anything as it squeaked 'ik, ik, ik' [the "patented" sound of the aswang]," she said.