The American Rangers who were tasked with freeing 500 American POWs from a camp in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, were flanked by a large group of Filipino guerrillas who escorted the Rangers to the camp and back. On pp. 112 – 113 of Ghost Soldiers, there is a section on moving through a field of native grass (cogon) at night.
TRIGGER WARNING: Horror
A lot of the Filipinos believed the cogon fields were haunted places at night, and the Rangers could tell some of them were a bit spooked . . . Their devout Spanish Catholicism coexisted with a smattering of older ingidenous beliefs. Among other things, they believed in a certain demon called the aswang. An aswang was a person like anyone else during the day, but at night he shed his legs and sprouted wings and gadded around like a vampire, settling old scores and wreaking general havoc upon the land. In the country all around here, the nipa-and-bamboo dwellings were kept wide open and well ventilated during the day, yet in the evenings the Filipinos always shuttered their windows tight to keep these demons out. When aswangs were about, the last place you wanted to be was in an open field like this one.
In the passage, the preposition “he” is a mistake. Aswang are always, but always, women. They have long, forked tongues which they use to suck out the blood of infants.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.