Folk Beliefs

The Curse of the Nuno Sa Punso

Background: My informant was a Filipino immigrant who came to America when she was 12. She was born and raised in Manila before coming to America, her father seeking out new opportunities. She then got married and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and currently works as a Denial Analyst for the Sanford Health Network, the largest hospital network in the Siouxland area.

Main Piece: There are superstitious tales in the Philippines about beds of mushrooms and the mounds that they can be found on. It is that that creatures live there called the Nuno Sa Punso, a form of Duwende (dwarf). The Nuno Sa Punso live in the mound, and if you come across these beds of mushrooms, you have to say “excuse me” and “no disrespect to you all” (tabi tabi po). More accurately, it means something like “I mean no harm, please step aside, let me pass” although it is a bit hard to translate exactly. You must avoid stepping on it because if you make one angry, it will give you bad luck and spit on you. If you step on it or harm it in any way it will use its spit to grant a curse. If you are cursed you will get an incurable lesion type of condition that can only be healed by the Faith Healers. You may also vomit blood.

The Faith Healers will usually warp the affected area in some form of leaves and oil while saying a prayer that asks for foregiveness from the dwarf you made mad. This is the only way the lesion will go away through time.

According to the informant, this kind of folklore is a major part of Filipino society and often talked about because Filipinios are a very highly superstitious people. It was fairly common for her to hear about stories like this, especially involving spirits.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story was told (in her belief) to teach children to respect the spirits as well as to get them to come home before 6pm, when it gets dark. This is a story that is told to all children and so it is very widespread. It is known by most Filipinos. The informant said “Each region has a folktale to avoid so you know not to make the spirits angry.”

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it shows a certain commonality in storytelling to teach children respect and also to ward them from staying out or straying too far into the unknown through the use of mythical creatures. I think that their “curse” is quite severe, and really would be something that would scare children. I wonder if it is somehow derived from some medical fact or otherwise medical incident long ago that was explained through spirits.

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