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Nuno Sa Punso: Filipino Dwarf-Like Creature

Updated on August 9, 2018

The 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. The belief that a mound serves as a home for dwarves or goblins is no difference. And that can be observe throughout the country specially in provinces.

Filipinos are very careful when passing mounds as offending the unseen dweller could cause sickness, bad luck or a sudden illness. The phrase "Tabi-tabi po" is usually used before passing a mound. This phrase which means, "Excuse me" shows respect to the mound's occupant by letting it know that you're just passing by and you don't mean any harm. Along with saying tabi-tabi po, some Filipinos also add something along like, "We're just passing by and means no harm."

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 occur. This could be a sudden stomachache, fever and even 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? To the folk healer.

The healer

People would go to albularyo or folk healer for help when feeling ill. This is specially observed in Philippine rural areas or neighborhoods 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.

When I was a kid, I enjoy playing outside just like any other kid - running, climbing small trees such as guava and macopa once living in a farm where I have no one to play with but myself. Just before 6 pm, I would hear my mom calling me, "Hija! It's twilight already, stop playing and come inside." And she won't forget adding "Baka manuno 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.

On another province where we lived sometimes I would go in a nearby river and sit there trying to spot if there are fish or just simply admire the crystal clear water. And there are times my playmate and I would spend time playing in irrigation canals catching rainbow fish or young mudfish if there are any once we lived near the main road like the rest of the neighbors.


On every trip to the albularyo (folk healer) the albularyo would use a specially made oil while utter some prayers called orasyon and would make a sign of the cross in my forehead, just like in the photo.

There are times as well the healer would do a tawas which will verify if I had offended these unseen beings. The tawas is usually done by using a bowl of water and a lighted candle's wax dropping into the bowl. The healer would interpret what kind of unseen being was offended by the shape of the candle wax as it reveals the figure of the entity that was offended.

I also have 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, 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 which most of the time is an offering of rice grains.

Back home

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

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 offered, the nuno sa punso would lift off my illness at that time.

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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 as a thank you. 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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