According to the lore, the legend involved two brothers, both gods. One brother Gugurang, was pure, and the other, Asuang, was flawed.
Growing up in the Philippines, I remember being more frightened than usual nearing November 1st and 2nd. These are the days when we mostly visit our dead relatives. I’ve always felt as if the pull of the supernatural is weirdly strong during these two days — I am also 150% scaredy-cat so, what do I know? Haha! I also remember news segments dedicated to ghosts, white ladies, and weird unworldly sightings. In addition to that, we live in belief, and maybe fear, of unnatural beings existing either in (or on) your neighbour’s tree, or that mound of dirt two streets over.
This was the main reason why when a blog tour invite for Vampires of Portlandia popped in my inbox, I quickly applied and hoped I could be a part of it.
Vampires of Portlandia is a #ownvoices story centred around the aswang lore in the Philippines. It follows Percival, and his family as they blend in in Portland, when a sudden influx of homeless and elderly deaths shakes the city. Much of what I know about aswangs in the Philippines came from scary movies that I tried so hard to avoid (remember Shake, Rattle and Roll?). Having these beings as the center of Tanamor’s story set during the holidays somewhat lessen the scare factor a little which I greatly appreciated. In addition to this, Tanamor gave the aswangs a morality to start with. They didn’t just pop out of nowhere. They are human.
One aspect of the Filipino culture which was prevalent in this story was family. Family doesn’t always mean “by blood”. Family also means doing what ever you can to protect those you love. Throughout the story, I can’t help but feel as if Percival, Roger, Geena and Marco were put in such a disadvantage. However, the more I sit on it, the more I realize I probably would’ve done the same thing Marcella, their grandmother, did.
I enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed the display of conspiracy theory woven by the government to rid the Philippines of aswangs. I enjoyed the nods to Filipino culture. Furthermore, I appreciated Tanamor preserving their morality. Just because they’re aswangs doesn’t mean they’re evil.
If you would like to check out the rest of the #AswangInPortlandTour tour stops, you can do so by viewing the schedule here.
About the Author:
Jason Tanamor is the critically acclaimed author of the novels “Anonymous” and “Drama Dolls.” His new novel “Vampires of Portlandia” is a NA urban fantasy about Filipino folklore – aswang. His writings have appeared in more than 250 publications. He’s interviewed personalities such as Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Pete Rose, and Dane Cook, and has covered U.S. President Barack Obama. Tanamor currently lives and works in the Portland, Oregon area.