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The mangkukulam is the Filipino equivalent of a witch or a sorcerer. The name deriving from the word kulam. Other terms for mangkululam include brujo ('bruho' for warlocks) and bruja ('bruha' for witches). The verb kulamin (/koo-lah-min/) means "to place a hex." A curse in Filipino is a sumpa (/soom-pah/).


Mangkukulam uses “black magic” to do harm to others. He/she starts the ritual with a spell, incantations, or a prayer.

A manika (doll), which is said to be powerful and has been used by ancient Filipinos, Africans, and Caribbean peoples, is then pricked using a needle. This causes the victim to feel immense pain. To kill the victim, the mangkukulam pricks the doll in the heart or on certain vital organs. In order for a kulam to be effective, one must obtain a certain personal body part or belonging of the person you want to cause pain to (e.g. hair), which will be then be attached into the doll.

Usually, one can get the service of a mangkukulam by bribing. Superstitious folks still attribute certain illnesses or diseases to kulam. This most often happens in the provinces, where an herbal doctor, albularyo (/al-boo-lar-yoh/), treats them. In some rural areas, people completely rely on the albularyo to reverse the witches' spell.

Sample spell

To summon rain:

"Clouds will form, the sky will blacken; with the power of the three spirits the people of the earth shall wail."

to stop the rain:

"Hindi na mamumuo ang ulap, liliwanag na ang kalawakan; sa kapangyarihan ng tatlong ulit na espiritu hindi na luluha ang sangkatauhan."

See also


  • Demetrio, Francisco, S.J. Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991.
  • "Mythical Creatures of the Philippines." Associated Content, 10 March 2006. (Accessed on September 14, 2007).



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