Juan and the Asuangs
A TALE OF PHILIPPINE GHOSTS AND SPIRITS
by Jose Aruego, 1970
It is full of folkloric spirits that don’t stray from traditional beliefs but are portrayed in a way that would only present danger if not for the stories and advice told to Juan by his Lola.
Juan and the Asuangs do not shy from a topic that could be a little bit scary – because sometimes life is a little bit scary, and sometimes your Grandmother has given you the advice to make your way through it.
“Juan falls asleep on the back of his grazing carabao and awakes to find himself deep in the green, ghost-flled jungle. And so his adventures with the Asuangs, or jungle spirits, begin. Asuangs are sometimes harmless if you know what to do but Juan decides to go in search of the worst Asuang, the Mananangal, which has plagued his village by stealing chickens and dogs. His boldness and bravery in this venture will hold the excited interest of the reader, and the youngest child will want to look again and again at the lush jungle plants, birds, lizards, mice and those amazing creatures, the Asuangs that people the Philippine jungle.”
I’m not sure how well this book would have faired if it came out in today’s marketplace (particularly with the manananggal planning a feast of the barrio’s pets), but I think it is perfect. If you disagree, then perhaps it’s been too long since you’ve attended a wild rumpus. (@aswangproject)
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