Phoenixes in the Realm of the Aswang
Updated: May 19
You see, as any enthusiast of Filipino movies knows, there is one genre that stands out in the crowd: horror.
When we got confirmation from Alamat’s tweets and teasers that the boys would be portraying aswang hunters in their latest music video, the news only served to drive up our excitement. You see, as any enthusiast of Filipino movies knows, there is one genre that stands out in the crowd: horror. Translation: we couldn’t wait to see this. Did ‘Aswang’ live up to our expectations? Read on and see for yourself.
More New Sounds for Their New Era
It’s probably not enough to say that we weren’t disappointed. Every part of this music video is well thought-out and executed, from the music to the visuals and the underlying themes. First off, the music is truly catchy and stays an earworm long after the song is finished. The melody, something like a mash-up of modern R&B with New Orleans jazz, fits well into Alamat’s current era and the carefully-crafted lyrics contain a shocking double entendre that hints at the edgier, sexier vibe Alamat has been cultivating lately. Plus we see the hard work they’ve put into upping their vocal quality and there is only one word for that - outstanding.
The boys’ performances are also absolutely on point. The choreography is stellar, blending from smooth to jerky moves and effortlessly portraying the switch between hunter, hunted, and victim. Of course, it’s hard for us to pick a standout here because each Alamat member showcases his style during the solo shots. If we’re pressed to name someone, it would be Jao. His projection combines with his main dancer moves - showcasing his unreal body control that pulls the steps from choreo to art. The surprise standout here would be Mo. This more fantastical, ethereal vibe suits his mysterious image and personality to an absolute T.
A Cinematic Journey
It’s a beautifully-crafted nod to the babaylans [...]
Now, let’s get to our favorite part of ‘Aswang:’ the music video and the story. Cinematic shots make the music video more of a trailer or synopsis of a horror movie rather than just a simple MV. This seems to have become sort of a signature for Alamat: adding a movie-style flair to a simple song interpretation, and we have no complaints at all.
In the beginning, the boys are armed to the teeth with hand weapons and flashlights. Beyond the obvious of their being hunters on the prowl, the intricate designs on their clothes serve another purpose. They’re prayers, or Oracion, which make the clothes into armor for their bodies and their souls. It’s a beautifully-crafted nod to the babaylans (medicine men, in the broadest sense of the term) who would often be called in to battle an aswang. This opening sequence of the boys coming through the door of a possibly haunted house had us wondering where everyone would end up and held our attention till the very end.
In an Age Of Marites
The seemingly jarring touch of the bright scenes when the boys are still hunters contrasts with the dim lights for the beautiful monster the boys encounter as they go deeper into the house. As they’re met with different versions of the monster, everything grows progressively darker, lending to the genius storyline. The White Lady, the tik-tik (with the long tongue), and the aswang (with the glowing eyes) are all played by Fatima of P-Pop girl group LITZ, and are beautifully done. The boys’ defeat by the aswang is surprisingly quick and unexpected, and we think we might be finding that deeper theme here.
In this Age of Marites, we know how out of control stories can get and how they can make a person into a monster.
Beyond what can be seen on the surface, the secret touches in ‘Aswang’ make the story richer for those in the know. They seamlessly blend in Filipino culture, which is what makes Alamat a standout when it comes to P-Pop. In this Age of Marites (translation for non-Filipinos, “Girl, what’s the latest?”), we know how out of control stories can get and how they can make a person into a monster. Do we want to believe what we are being told about a person? Could this actually be what 'Aswang' is all about?
Rooting for the Phoenixes
As the video progresses, the boys get separated and fall one by one. The weapons and armor don’t work, meaning the gossip is stronger than the belief in themselves. It all reminds us of their struggles earlier this year and how sticking together made them a much stronger team. We’re still rooting for our Phoenixes, so this better not be just a metaphor.
The boys have all been turned into monsters themselves and become even more powerful and arresting.
The highlight of the music video is when the outfits change to a black Barong Tagalog at the end, a look reminiscent of funeral attire. The boys have all been turned into monsters themselves and become even more powerful and arresting. Of course, if halimaw (beast) is the direction Alamat is moving towards as the next generation of P-Pop artists? Count us in. We’re all for it.