Aswang: Modern and 'Transmedial'

  • Written by  Alexandria Camille M. Castillo
  • Published in News
Lim agrees with a point raised by a member of the audience © OVCRE/Alexandria Camille M. Castillo Lim agrees with a point raised by a member of the audience

What could be more interesting than a mixture of movies, songs, novels, comic books -- all revolving around the infamous Aswang, a folkloric Philippine monster?

Dr. Felicidad “Bliss” Cua Lim, associate professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, shed last August 22 at UPLB’s NCAS Auditorium a different kind of light on the topic of aswang. During probably the most peculiar of all the GE Conversations series conducted by the Department of Humanities’ Literary Division this year, Lim incited the audience to look at aswang “within [the] queer social fabric.”

According to Lim, the aswang is often conceptualized as a national symbol for monstrous asociality in the functionalist paradigms that dominate Philippine folklore. In her lecture “Aswang Transmedia,” Lim countered Raul Pertierra’s argument of the aswang as one having an “asocial” or antisocial nature. She argued that the “transmedial aswang” can be a relative, a friend, or even a lover.

Lim cited and presented a number of fragments found in different media that support her statements. Among them is Ricky Lee’s novel, “Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata,” where Lee portrayed aswang and bakla as “marginal characters who move through time and space.”

This seemingly simple yet very technical topic gave the audience a new perspective on the aswang. According to Dennis Gupa, assistant professor at the Department of Humanities, he agrees with Lim’s points and noted that “we are an aswang nation.”

Lim is an expert on Philippine cinema; temporality; archival loss; postcolonial and feminist film theory; transnational Asian horror and the fantastic; and taste cultures. She wrote the book “Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique,” published by Duke University Press in 2009.