Akda: The Asian Journal of Literature, Culture, Performance
Pages 36-53 | Vol. 1 No. 2 | 2021


The Haunting Power of Sound in Aswang

Katrina Macapagal
Independent Researcher, Edinburgh, UK
[email protected]


Abstract: This paper examines the audibility of Aswang (2019), the first feature-length documentary that tackles Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. I locate the documentary against the audibility of terror produced by the Duterte regime, accentuated by the primary metaphor of the aswang legend where the documentary initially draws its political charge. Inspired by theories of sound and haptic listening, I argue that Aswang, through its composition of key sound elements such as the voice-over, music, and urban noise, configures an overall audibility that amplifies, rather than reduces, the humanity of the documentary’s subjects. 


Keywords: aswang, Philippine documentary, haptic listening, haptic aurality, politics of listening, Duterte, war on drugs, Philippine films


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