History and Culture

A Disease Worse Than Ebola: Yanggaw!


Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | Oct 21, 2013

"Yanggaw" is a 2008 horror-drama-mystery indie movie based on an Ilonggo myth about aswangs. The story is about a young girl who develops an unknown disease that changes her into a monster -- one which likes to eat the innards of humans and animals.

The film was written and directed by Richard Somes. It starred Tetchie Agbayani, Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Erik Matti, and Aleera Montalla. It won the Audience Choice Award in the Cinema One Originals 2008 Festival.

“Yanggaw” in Ilonggo means “infection” or “affliction.” The story revolves around Amor, who gets stricken by a sickness no doctor could identify.

The townsfolk then notices that animals and people are being brutally murdered. Amor shows signs of “yanggaw,” which is the deliberate transformation of a human into a beastly killer.



  • Amor - daughter of Inday and Junior (Aleera Montalla)
  • Inday - mother of Amor, wife of Junior (Tetchie Agbayani)
  • Junior - father of Amor, husband of Inday (Ronnie Lazaro)
  • Toto - brother of Amor, son of Inday and Junior (Gio Respall)
  • Erma - Toto’s wife (Monet Gaston)
  • Leon - (Leon Gaston)
  • Abner - (Keith Cabañez)
  • Dulpo - Godfather of Amor (Joel Torre)
  • Lazarus - a faith healer (Erik Matti)


Story Summary

The film begins with a healer who tells Amor that her sickness is serious. She is told to go home.

Amor’s father, Junior, lives with his wife, Inday, together with their children, Toto, Erma, Leon, and Abner. One day, Amor arrives home with a sickness and collapses.

The family then calls a healer, Lazarus, who suggests pinning a piece of ginger on Amor’s clothing and to keep the children safe as an aswang might be near. Amor is diagnosed by Lazarus that she has been infected with venom that goes through her ears.

(Trivia: Pinning ginger on clothing was believed to keep bad winds and spirits away.)

Junior believes in aswangs, which is why he keeps a copper knife, an object that the aswang fears.

Amor gets worse as the days go by. Junior wants to borrow money from Dulpo so he can take her to a hospital, but unfortunately the former can't lend any.

Amor starts to hear noises at night. She says Erma is pregnant, as she can smell the baby.

Inday brings her again to Lazarus, who says to watch her for 3 days before bringing her back to him. But that night, Amor runs away and Junior finds her the next morning with her mouth covered in blood and a goat ripped apart beside her.

They take her to a nearby barrio hospital, but they're only given antibiotics for stomach infection.

Another night comes, and she disappears again. The next day, two barrio guards are found dead. Lazarus can no longer help her.

Amor found drenched in blood.

Amor has become an aswang. She was infected through the ear. She is herself during the day and becomes a voracious creature at night, caring only to feed her hunger.

She is thus chained, preventing her from doing harm to herself and to others. Junior, her father, can't stand what he hears and see. He unchains her, asking she’ll promise not to devour her own family.

The family struggles in protecting Amor, who is now an aswang. What's the ending? Find out for yourself! ;)


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