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Aswangs in America

Evo Joel Contrivida

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One of the most famous and feared creatures of Philippine folklore is the aswang, which hunts humans at night and eats their internal organs. Different regions of the country have their own versions of the aswang. Some fly, some change shape and some crawl to the roof.

This aswang is at the center of the novel Vampires of Portlandia written by Filipino-American writer Jason Tanamor. His move to Portland, Oregon, in the United States, inspired him to finish his book, mentioning how creepy the appearance of crows every fall is.

“I started writing the book almost immediately, as the surroundings contributed to setting up the world in Vampires of Portlandia nicely. The book took about nine months to write, as everything came together rather quickly,” Tanamor said.

The book can serve as a guide for Portland as he used actual places for the story including its beautiful sites.

Tanamor aims to introduce or reintroduce the aswang to readers and into mainstream consciousness. It deserves attention with worldwide fascination for zombies.

“I did a lot of research on the general characteristics but wanted to create my own interpretation of what the aswang meant mainly because the family of aswangs that immigrates to Portland, Oregon, is a typical family just trying to live in peace. They’re not vicious monsters as depicted in lore. I want readers to resonate with the aswang siblings, but I also want them to be part of this cool and interesting lore. The vampires are just like you and I; they just happen to be aswangs,” Tanamor explained.

 

BORN and raised in America, Jason Tanamor writes about a family of aswangs immigrating to the United States in ‘Vampires of Portlandia.’ PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF JASON TANAMOR

Tanamor was born and raised in the United States. He has authored Anonymous and Drama Dolls. His writings have appeared in hundreds of publications worldwide, and he was able to interview celebrities such as Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Pete Rose, Dane Cook and former US President Barack Obama.

Tanamor is planning to launch the 422-page urban fantasy novel this September in Portland but with the coronavirus pandemic he is considering online platforms as well as a digital edition.

“If you’re one to read too deeply into things, this novel is essentially about a family of Filipinos immigrating to America for a better life. The difference is they’re aswangs, which make them even more different. My main hope is to just tell an entertaining story and give people an inside look into a culture that is highly underrepresented,” he shared.

The book can be pre-ordered through the Parliament House Press’ website and online retailers in print ($14.99) and digital ($6.99) formats, or one can purchase directly through Tanamor’s siteat http://www.tanamor.com/p/vampires-of-portlandia.html.

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