Tag Archives: ghost stories

The Aswang

Context: X is a 20 year old Filipino American college student who spent the first seven years of childhood living in the Philippines, before moving with his close family to California. The piece was collected over an audio call. 

Intv: “Can you think of any, like, ghost stories, or urban legends from the Philippines?”

X: “Probably the most famous one is the aswang, typically depicted as a vampire but can also be a ghoul/were-beast or something of the sort and like to kill and devour humans dead or alive. Can also be a witch but that’s not as common. Their strength is severely reduced during daytime/in sunlight so we tend to fill our wakes/funerals with candles and leave some on the grave after to protect the wake/corpse from being attacked. They are a very varied monster because of how varied the cultures of the 3 main islands and even the tinier islands inside of them are, but the most common one is basically bat-like ghouls/vampires”

Intv: “Where specifically in the Philippines were you told about the aswang?”

X: “So my (dad’s) family that told me most of the folklore lived in the very southern tip of the Province of Pangasinan (used to be in north Zambales before territory changes) in a village/town named Nayom and we primarily saw them as ghoul-bat creatures that range from monstrous looking to almost humanoid not really a definite one shape (not too sure if this is the only thing my family thought but that’s what they told me as a kid). Filipino media typically depict them as ghoul-bat vampires still but some of them could transform to look just like a really pale human.”

Analysis: I find it interesting how all across the Philippines they have many different stories of the aswang, going so far as to have the aswang often being viewed as different things across different cultures. The friend that I interviewed also informed me that he believes that it’s known as a man/bat creature where he’s from because of the golden crowned flying fox bat, which is native to the Philippines and X argues the tale of the aswang comes from before our knowledge of the bat as a species and therefore has been misidentified in the past.

Moss Back.

L is a 78-year-old Caucasian male originally from Meridian, Mississippi. L is a retired drill sergeant and veteran of the American war in Vietnam.

While visiting Phoenix, Arizona I met with L to discuss folklore, as he had previously helped me collect war stories for an oral history project. I met L at his Phoenix office where he provided me with two scary stories he remembered from his past. The following is the second of these two stories, which he first heard as a boy in the late 1950s.

L: Moss Back, Um.. I think it was a Cherokee Indian… What happened? Trying to think, guess we’ll see, he gets his head cut off.. and uh, then he goes around looking for his head. You know laughs and you could hear him moaning at night when he’s coming through the brush and through the trees. So you didn’t want to go out at night and you didn’t want to hear “Moss Baaack.. Moss Baaack’s coming..” laughs Oh God, probably seven eight years old when I first heard it. It was really funny, uh, so at church we had a group called “RA’s” Royal Ambassadors. So we had a ball team we played softball and that kinda stuff so we had, I’ll never forget him. He was our assistant pastor to church and he did all the stuff with the boys. We had some friends that had a lake out in the country about ten miles outside of Meridian.. and so he fixed up a deal to throw us camping out there and fishing, an overnight stay at the lake. So, we fished that day and you know uh did some swimming and fishing and all kinda stuff. And then that evening, they built a big ol’ camp fire. And they started telling us ghost stories you know laughs and Moss Back was one of ‘em and all kinds, all kinds of stuff and here’s a bunch of boys from.. seven eight, to ten maybe twelve. Um, so we listened to all these stories.. and there was somebody I don’t remember who it was, but there was another man there helping the Pastor out. And they said ok said, uh, “you boys”, uh, you know “go on to bed and do whatever you’re going to do and we’re going to go on and fish for a while there’s good fishing out here at night.” So they got in this boat and paddled out into this lake. Well, they went to the other side and came around through the dark laughs and we’re all sitting around here heard all these ghost stories you know laughs and here they come you know they got right up close to us and they went “Moss Baaack’s a comin Moss Baaack’s a comin!” laughs imitates scream we jump up running in every direction laughs oh my God! laughs boy they got us good. They, they likely scared us out of a year’s growth you know.

Reflection: L provided a great example of a common way folk have historically interacted ostensively with scary stories, pranking. The ”insiders” with knowledge of a scary story tend to prank the ”outsiders” (those without knowledge of the scary story) as an act of initiation for transitioning from ”insiders” to ”outsiders” of the story. As L’s account demonstrates, this often takes the form of the ”insiders” pretending to be the monster featured in the scary story in order to frighten the ”outsiders.” Moss Back as a character appears to be based on racially problematic history, as beheading is a known method of execution that American settlers used to punish Native American populations.

“Peeking Heads” Ghost Story

Main Piece:

AL: This was back at my old house where I lived in. A duplex, essentially. And it was night time, and it was probably around midnight to like 1 or 2 which is I guess late for me as a child.

Me: How old were you do you think?

AL: Uhm… I think I was in like fifth or sixth grade. And I was still afraid of the dark, and so I slept with like a night light… And my room was… [across the hall] from my parents room… Connected through a hallway, a very short hallway, and both [our] doors were open. And it was dark. It was late. My parents were asleep. I was asleep. My brother slept in my parents’ room, and so… I just woke up… and I was really tired but I was peeking out at the door, and I thought I saw my brother. I assumed that this person was my brother—who had their head sticking out of the door.

Me: *in disgust* Ahhhhh!…

AL: But It was so dark because they had no light [on]… And so I was kinda like shocked, but… it was understandable in my head… I called out my brother’s name like “Jonathan!” (Silence.) “J- jonathan! W- what? Hello?” And they would just stare back at me. It’s like where—in cartoons—you would see the silhouette of their hand peeking sideways? And I would see like a hand, waving, and I was like “Jonathan! It’s late!”

Me: *laughing* Like “What the hell is this, Jonathan?!”

AL: And I kept at it. And they would not go away…. They stopped waving, and I was like “Okay, okay. Good night!” And so I would roll over and try to fall back asleep… And then I’m assuming like 10 minutes passed… I roll over again, and they’re still there with like another person. And I’m like “Mom! Hello?” *laughs* But all I could hear was my dad snoring. And so I kinda just gave up on them, and then I eventually fell asleep. And then, the next morning, I talked to them, and I was like “What were you doing? looking out the door at me?” …I spoke this to my brother first….

He was like “Huh? What do you mean? I didn’t do anything.”

AL: I was like “No, you did. You had your head out and your hand and everything… Do you not remember? Are you dumb or something?”

And he was like “No, I was sleeping!”

I was like “Mom, do you remember? You were doing the same thing.”

Mom: “Huh? No!”

AL: “What do you- what do you mean?”

Mom: “What did you see?”

I was like “You and Jonathan were like literally… Staring at me and waving… You don’t remember anything?”

Mom: “No.”

I was like “Oh… Who were they then?” (jokingly) Hello? *laughs*

Me: *laughs* So, what was their initial reaction to it? Did they not believe you?

AL: They were kinda, like, laughing at me for thinking these things— rather than like believing, which I would also understand…

Me: So, did it scare you? In retrospect? Or in the moment?

AL: In the moment, it did not freak me out… Just like really tired… It could be just my tiredness and just like hallucinating. Do you know like when its dark and you see like grains [in your eyes]?…

Me: Yeah!

AL: It could just be that… Or actual people. Who knows?


An interview I had with my roommate in the Cale & Irani Apartments at USC Village late night, with the lights out to set the mood. He is of Vietnamese descent. His younger brother, Jonathan, was five to six years old at the time.


I love ghost stories, especially the way in which people perform them. This is a piece of self-proclaimed folklore, and his family still laughs about it till this day. He has disclosed to me that he was deathly afraid of the dark as child, but has since grew out of it. This experience was more confusing to him than anything. Children are often associated with ghosts or spirits because they are more ‘innocent,’ and therefore can see the paranormal easier. However, they are seen as more naive, so this lends itself as to why no one believed him. Perhaps, if he were to say this today, his family would. This brings into questions the credibility of folklore and personal narratives. Is folklore just as valid when it comes from children, themselves?

The House Ghost in Singapore

The interlocutor, EF, is a close friend of the interviewer (INT). EF’s parents were staying in Singapore. They were sharing a house with another person during their time there.

Description (as told over email):
(EF): “okay story time: this takes place in singapore. my parents were washing dishes at around 2pm and they share a house w another person. that person wasnt home and was away in the philippines. their bedroom door was locked and no other person had access to tht room. when my parents were finishing up washing dishes. they noticed in the hall tht leads to their housemate’s room, that there was a white figure and they saw it walk through the door into the locked room

When my dad was playing around his house at night and he noticed that there was somebody sitting on his neighbor’s porch. When he approached the figure, there was a very dim light so he couldn’t see anything but a shadow or a silhouette… nothing too defining. The weird thing tho was tht the figure’s eyes were glowing orange-red but my dad didnt really think abt it at the time bc he thought it was normal. he went up to it to ask where his neighbor/playmate was. The figure didnt answer and nobody really knew what my dad was talking abt when he told other ppl

one night my mom was cooking and she heard the front door closed so she peeked to see who it was and she saw like a shadowy figure pass by and walk into their housemate’s bedroom so like she thought it was her housemate. when she turned around, the fire on the stove was like WAY higher than it was before and she had to turn it off right away. and then after a few mins, the front door closed again and when she looked it was the housemate she thought was already there. she asked him too like “didnt u just come in?” and he said no and tht he just came back.”

(INT): “do you think it was actually a ghost?”

(EF): “i mean, kinda, yeah??? idrk how else to describe something like that happening over and over again yknow? it’s just too weird lol like if that happened in my apartment i think i would definitely think it was a ghost plus my parents and their friends are all 100% it was a ghost so…

then again Filipinos can be pretty superstitious lol so u should also take that into consideration”

I definitely find EF’s interpretation of this story interesting. I’m sure that something odd or seemingly unexplainable occurred in that house that made EF’S parents feel some unnatural presence. The roommate being in the Philippines also eliminates a possible explanation for these strange occurrences. Perhaps it was her parents’ superstitious nature that led them to believe these separate instances were indicators of the supernatural. Overall, I don’t doubt their story but I do think that other factors should be considered before downright saying it was a ghost.

The Old Slaughterhouse

A Tale about an old slaughterhouse up in Northern California and the ghosts that haunt the decaying building.

C: There’s an old slaughter house, up near some of the old, um–not old, it just got bought out again — golf course on March Creek Road.

L: Up in Brentwood?

C: Yeah, well, yeah. Well up in, kinda, there’s like this big farm area and there’s like, these hills that lead, like, up towards Mount Diablo. You keep going that direction, and in that area is this old slaughter house. I don’t know if it was actually a slaughterhouse, but it’s like this old, decrepit building in the middle of nowhere that you can hike out to. And rumor has it you can go up there at night– Ghost!

L: What kind of ghosts?

C: Like, ha-ha-ha, the most real thing that happened is like, someone saw a figure with a gun. But it’s also like, spooky shenanigans, strange figures, weird noises. Ooh, spooky. And, like, teenagers hanging out in a place where they’re not supposed to noises.

L: Is it just because it’s a slaughterhouse or did something happen?

C: I think it’s just because it’s a slaughterhouse. And like, there’s other– there’s a hill and I don’t know where it is because I’ve never gone there, but, um. I’m just thinking now because it’s like, yeah, because it’s a freaking hill, like um, where people would go to do “the make outs” and it was also considered haunted for some reason. The one that I remember is like, “Oh your car will start moving” and I’m like, yeah, duh, it’s a hill. You don’t put your car– haha–you don’t  put your break on that’s gonna happen.

There are a plethora of spooky tales about areas that are associated with death. Graveyards, hospitals, and in this case, a slaughter house are all places that fill our imagination with ghost hauntings. Death– whether it’s human or animal– forces people to confront their own mortality, and so, stories of ghosts haunting this slaughter house are passed by word of mouth from person to person in the Brentwood town it neighbors.