Philippine Folklore: The Goblin's Mound

A nuno sa punso as depicted on Philippine folklore.
A nuno sa punso as depicted on Philippine folklore. | Source

Philippines is rich in folklore, myths and legends. Just like other countries who believe on the existence of "Big Foot" and the "chupacabra," the Filipinos also believe in existence of such beings. And one of this is the belief on the mounds, dwarves, or goblins. And that can be observe throughout the country specially in the provinces.

Filipinos are very careful when passing mounds as offending the unseen dweller could cause sickness, bad, luck or sudden illnesses. The phrase "tabi-tabi po" is used before passing a mound. This phrase which means, "excuse me" shows respect to the mound's occupant and also alerts it that a person is passing by. Along with saying tabi-tabi po, some Filipinos also add something to it like, "we're just passing by and intends no harm." (makikiraan lang po, wala akong intensyong masama.)

But, for those who had offended the nuno sa punso, trampling, kicking, and peeing (for guys) on this mounds could cause them curse or punishment. And that's when strange or sudden illnesses or conditions happen. This could be a sudden stomachache, fever, and swollen feet few minutes or hours after the incident. Only few of other misfortunes that can happen.

And when the sudden illness appeared, guess where the punished person who had offended the nuno sa punso would go?

Right! To the folk healer.

Onto the folk healer.

People would go to albularyo or folk healer for help when feeling ill. This is specially observed on Philippine rural areas or neighborhood, when there is not much hospitals or clinics to go to. I even have quite some experiences going to these healers on my childhood when I get sick as the belief that I had stepped into something unseen came to be the first thought to my parents. So maybe I'll just tell some of my stories.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed playing around, running, climbing small trees such as guava and macopa. Sometimes I would go into a nearby river and watch the fishes as they swim closer. We're a little bit far from the neighbors and there's a lot of different kinds of trees on the farm we live at that time.

Just before 6 pm, I would hear my mom calling me, "Hija! It's twilight already, stop playing and come inside." And she doesn't forget adding "baka ma nuno ka," which means ("you might probably step into something unseen.") Those words I used to hear from either my mom or from my grandmother every time the sun is about to set or just before 6 pm.

An albularyo doing some healing.
An albularyo doing some healing. | Source

During my trips to albularyo's (folk healers,) the albularyo would use a specially made oil, utter some prayers, usually called orasyons and then would make a sign of the cross in my forehead, just like in the photo.

There are also times the albularyo would do a tawas which will verify if I had offended or unknowingly stepped into a nuno (goblin.) The tawas is usually done by using a bowl of water and a lighted candle's wax dropping into the bowl. This would then reveal the figure of the entity that had caused the sudden illness.

I also had few experiences which I found fascinating as a kid when the albularyo utter Latin prayers (orasyons) into a piece of paper with signs, or scrambled writings I can't even understand, and then sticking it into my forehead just before I was sent home. And along with some instructions of what to do to please the nuno sa punso for it to take away the punishment.

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Back home

After a trip to the healer (albularyo,) either my mom or my dad would do the offerings as it is instructed by the albularyo.

I remember there's this one time when I was either 5 or 6 years old when my mom scattered grains of rice into our yard at 6 pm while speaking some words pertaining to the wish that hopefully by the grains of rice we had offered, the nuno sa punso would lift off my illness at that time.

Up to this days, belief to nuno sa punso can still be mirrored in Filipino culture. These entities can either harm those who tramps into their living space, their mounds. And in some cases, they can also bestow good luck fortune to people they sense as good hearted or those people who unknowingly had done something that the mound dweller found pleasing. They are also depicted on Philippine comic books as unseen, very small entities. Accepting a gift of wealth from the nuno sa punso is believe that will cause something in return, usually a life of a loved one.

In regards of the albularyo or the folk healers, they don't usually accept payments but there's few that will accept it. Most when offered payment, wouldn't accept the money. But offerings will do, offerings such as candles, herbs, rice grains or anything that the patient could think of as a good offering that the healer can use on his/her profession.

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Comments 5 comments

wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado

I've never heard much about Filipino folklore, so this was quite fascinating. Superstition and such is found around the world, but I was surprised to learn that dwarves and goblins could be found in the Filipino stories as well.

Lots of interesting things to say here. Thanks!

wayseeker


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego Author

Thanks wayseeker. Dwarves and goblins are just, say, two of the many creatures believe to exist in the land specially in the remote islands.


mydnigt 4 years ago

"albularyos" don't mean "quack doctors" man.that's just disrespectful and misleading.


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego Author

Ok. Thank you for the point out. I had changed it to folk healer instead :) But a lot of websites has to change theirs too.


mydnigt 4 years ago

sorry if that might have gone out strong.And I do agree that other websites should correct the information that diffuse in the internet.

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