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For the Portuguese name see Nuno (given name)
Title Nuno sa punso
Description Goblin of the anthill
Gender Male
Region Philippines

A nuno or nuno sa punso ("old man of the mound") is a dwarf-like creature in Philippine mythology. It is believed to live in an anthill or termite mound, hence its name, literally 'Ancestor/Grandparent living in the anthill'.


"The "nono" are the spirits of old persons. When a tree is to be felled, or a piece of virgin ground broken, and on many other occasions, permission is asked of the nono. Should this precaution be neglected misfortune will surely ensue." The nuno is described to be a small old man with a long beard, and differs from a duwende or dwarf of Philippine folklore. The duwende is a playful hobgoblin who shows himself to children, while the nuno is a goblin easily angered and will do harm to those who damage or disturb his mound. If an invader destroys the nuno's home by kicking it, the offender's foot will become swollen. Nuno sa punso are also believed to inhabit places such as underneath large rocks, trees, riverbanks, caves, or a backyard.

Magical abilities[edit]

Nunos have the ability to curse trespassers. A curse may include the following:

  • Swelling or pain on any part of the body
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Urinating black liquid
  • Excessive hair growth on the back

In order for a nuno to successfully curse a person, the trespasser must come in close proximity of the nuno. If the trespasser is within range, the Nuno can spit on any part of the trespasser's body. The trespasser will then experience aches or soreness on the affected part of the body, such as stomach pains, swollen genitals (after urinating on the mound), or swollen feet (after kicking the mound).

Countermeasures against curses[edit]

There is a common belief that if modern medicine is unable to cure a particular illness, the ailment may be due to a nuno's curse. The victim is brought to an albularyo, a Philippine practitioner of traditional medicine. The albularyo will perform a ceremony known as tawas. During this process, a piece of a candle is melted and the molten wax poured onto a disc or spoon. The molten wax is in turn poured into water. The image formed on the water will then be interpreted by the albularyo. The image aids in determining the cause of the patient's illness and where the curse actually happened.

In order to be cured, the victim's family may be asked to provide an offering to the nuno such as fruits or other food, drinks, or a material object. If the victim is still not healed after the offering, it may be necessary to personally ask the nuno's forgiveness, which is believed to be a wise measure, in order to prevent the permanent possession of the victim by an evil spirit, which could later cause the victim to become insane.

It is also possible to kill the nuno by catching it and crushing its head between a person's fingers or thighs. This will remove any spell cast by the nuno. But this method is not often recommended because it could evoke the wrath of a nuno's friends and relatives.

Legends also state that placing an obese or festively plump female on the side of a road after midnight will attract the nuno out of hiding, thus allowing those afflicted to seek their revenge on the goblin. The nuno has an odd affinity for large bodied mammals of the opposite sex.


To avoid the wrath of a nuno sa Punso, children are reminded not to play outside between noon and three o'clock in the afternoon. They are also asked by their parents to come home before six o'clock in the evening. Children are also instructed avoid being noisy at places where nuno are believed to dwell. Children are also warned to ask permission or give fair notice before passing by such places inhabited by the nuno, which is done by saying "tabi tabi po"(literally "please be on the side" or "please move aside", that is, you tell the nuno to stand aside), or "please let me pass by" or "I mean no harm as I pass through your territory, Old Man of the Mound".


Although most people respect the nuno and will abide by the many unwritten rules which serve the purpose of building a peaceful coexistence between human beings and nuno, some people still stubbornly choose not to. A disrespectful person will purposely trample around in tall grassy areas, places where nuno are also believed to inhabit. These people would also intentionally urinate on suspected nuno anthills to display dominance over the mound dweller.