"To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul
About the Wolf
- hope you like what you see." - Aldo Leopold
“Go to sleep or I will call the planes.”
— what some Yemeni parents say to their children, according to activist Farea al-Muslimi’s testimony before a Congressional hearing Tuesday on the use of drones.
This reminds me of an anti-insurgency campaign conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in the Philippines during the 1950s which made use of Philippine folklore.
To cut off popular support for the communist Huk guerrillas, American advisors to the Philippine armed forces headed by Colonel Edward Lansdale, conducted psychological operations by playing on the supernatural beliefs of Filipinos. They would use the widespread belief in aswangs, or local mythological vampires, to keep civilians away from the Huks.
Wherever there was a strong presence of Huks in an area, Lansdale and his crew would spread rumors among the locals that there were aswangs in town. And should the locals venture out of their homes at night, they might be kidnapped and eaten by the aswangs.
Using the same supernatural belief, some of the psychological operations teams would also kidnap Huks, inflict vampire bites on their necks, drain their blood, and leave them in areas where the other Huks would find them. Upon discovery, some guerrillas would abandon their cause for fear of being taken by the aswangs.
The fear of aswangs was so effective it eventually reduced the number of guerrillas, cut them off from the civilian population and eventually ended the Huk rebellion.
Decades later, the effect of the aswangs venturing at night persisted. So much so that in my childhood years, visits to relatives in rural areas would always result to early dinners and sleep at night. And the same relatives would warn me and my cousins not to go out of the house after dinner or else, the aswangs would come and get us.