Aswang legend lives on in ‘Maria Labo’

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Urban legends have a way of affecting us, and for a long time now, that of Maria Labo has elicited terror and repulsion especially in the Visayas where her story is said to have taken place.  She is the aswang from Iloilo (others claim Capiz and Sorsogon) who butchered her own children and fed them to her husband after she herself feasted on them.  To this day, many believe that she is still out there looking for victims to satiate her cravings.  Captured by this blood-curdling story, esteemed actor/director Roi Vinzon has turned it into a movie.  This November, Maria Labo is set to put viewers on the edge of their seats and stir emotions other than fear.

Maria, played by newcomer Kate Brios, is a loving wife and mother who wants to help her husband Ermin (Jestoni Alarcon) make ends meet.  Encouraged by her friend Emily (Sam Pinto), she grabs the opportunity to work as a caregiver in Dubai despite her husband’s hesitation.  She finds a friend in a fellow OFW, Nanay Leng, but falls prey to cruel, drunken foreign men.  Now mentally disturbed, Maria is sent back to the Philippines.  Worse than being insane, she has turned into a monster who devours human flesh.  As her husband looks for answers about her mysterious transformation, the town is in serious danger as she remains at large.

“Labo”, which means “to hack” in Ilonggo, is attached to Maria’s name because of what was done to her face.  The movie took the liberty in changing some details, like making Maria an OFW in Dubai, while the original tale says that she worked in Canada and it was her employer who passed on the supernatural powers to her.  Another version has it that Maria was killed by a Spaniard and it is her ghost that’s prowling the town.

Though this is Kate Brios’ first film, Director Vinzon praises her sensibility as an actress and she is able to hold her own in the company of seasoned actors, like Jestoni Alarcon, Baron Geisler, Mon Confiado, Dennis Padilla, Rez Cortez, Sam Pinto, and Rey ‘PJ’ Abellana.

Maria Labo opens November 11 in cinemas nationwide as distributed by VIVA Films. 

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