Monday, March 28, 2011

Supernaturally Caused Illness

(History of Medicine Report on Folk Medicine. Posted this for future reference since I found a blog site as a reference to this report.)

In folk medicine, supernatural elements are believed to attribute to discomforts and illnesses. Mythological creatures such as dwende, nuno, kapre and tikbalang are believed, in rural physics, to contribute to the conundrums of discomforts and illness etiologies (study of causation or origination) and pathologies (study and diagnosis of disease). Aside from these mythological creatures, other earth creatures such as mambabarang and mangkukulam may cause unexplainable diseases.

Nalamang-lupa (harmed by dwellers of the earth)

Lamang-lupa or earth dwellers (duwende and nuno) are believed to inhabit the underground and mounds of earth (termite mounds or punso). These creatures are known to inflict maladies and gamut of complaints, such as abdominal distress, headaches, body pains and even insanity, on those who disrespect or accidentally disturb their mounds (like when sweeping the floor or ground with a walis ting-ting), leaving and failing to apologize by saying “tabi tabi po”. Another belief is when a person pointed his/her finger to the punso, he/she needs to bite the finger, spit out and step on the spit.

There are three types of duwende, the duwendeng puti (the good duwende), the duwendeng itim (the bad duwende) and the duwendeng pula (the meaner duwende). In some provinces, only the duwendeng puti and duwendeng itim exist. The duwendeng itim and duwendeng pula are the types of duwendes which may bring illnesses to a person.

Another ailment similar to nalamang-lupa is namatanda, which is caused by old dwarves.

Kapre, said to be the Philippine Bigfoot - our own version of the hairy, oversized not-quite-human-not-quite-ape with a large, lit cigar in hand, which inhabits the huge trees (such as Balete, Mangga and Acacia) are believed to cause fevers, may lead people astray, taking fancy on women and taking them, and may even cause a woman to be pregnant.

Natabang (victimized by sorcery)

Natabang or nakitang is a disease of victims of sorcery which is caused by Manugtabang or Manugkitang (Manughiwit by the Hiligaynon). The Manugtabang is known to cause bloating of the stomach of their victim, while the Manugkitang may inflict harm to their victims using the fin of the fish which is regarded as the kitang.

Nabarang (victimized by another sorcery)

Nabarang is an ailment caused by another type of sorcery which is executed by a sorcerer called the Mambabarang. The Mambabarang harm their victim using insects to infest the victims body. The Mambabarang can instruct the insects to enter the body of a desired victim via the openings in the body such as ears, nose, mouth or anus.

Nagaway (victimized by witchcraft)

Nagaway is an ailment caused by witchcraft which is carried out by a Manggagaway using a manikaan and/or palipad hangin. The Manggagaway is able to make a person lose his/her mind and go insane, can also make a woman pregnant and making her deliver a fish or a lizard baby.

Nakulam (victimized by another witchcraft)

Nakulam is an ailment caused by a Mangkukulam using hexing or spell-casting to harm the target victim. The spell is written in a piece of paper with the name of the person involved pinned with needles or pins. Aside from the spells, ingredients are also used for the spell-casting process. Diseases caused by kulam may be worsen or may lead to death if not consulted and counterspelled by an albularyo.

According to Tony Perez’ “Kulam”, the spells may also be used for day-to-day needs: for good fortunes, against bad luck, to improve appetite, to protect loved ones, to prevent nightmare, to become attractive to someone or to counter bad thoughts.


Bangungot came from the words “bangon” (to rise) and “ungol” (to moan). It is a syndrome that consists of a nightmare.

In Ilocandia, there is a huge fat female demon that inhabits the trees. This demon is called a batibat. When her tree of residence cut off and used as a bedpost or support post in a house, the batibat transforms into a spirit-form and inhabits the holes of the post. So when a person nearby sleeps, the creature transforms into a vengeful malevolence and sits on the sleeping person’s face, suffocating him/her to a bangungot death.

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