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Mangkukulam is the Filipino version of a sorcerer or a witch.




The name Mangkukulam was derived from the work kulam, a Tagalog term which literally means bewitchment; magic spell. The following terms may also refer to a mangkukulam: brujo ('bruho' for warlocks) and bruja ('bruha' for witches ), that are from the Spanish language. The verb kulamin means to place a hex. And a curse in Filipino is a sumpa.


Mangkukulam dress and look like humans however, it is easy to spot witches, say the old folk as they have red eyes. And "don’t look directly at those eyes or you will catch a spell", they add.


Kulam in the Philippines is said to be centered on the islands of Siquijor and Talalora, Western Samar and the province of Sorsogon, where many of the country's faith healers reside. Kulam also exists in many of the hinterlands, especially in Samar and Leyte.


Typically, the mangkukulam recites spells and mixes potions. The modern version of the mangkukulam uses dolls.

Superstitious folks still attribute certain illnesses or diseases to kulam. This most often happens in the provinces, where an herbal doctor, albularyo, treats them.

In some rural provincial areas, people completely rely on the albularyo for treatment. To fight the curses of the mangkukulam, one should look for him or her and offer bribes. In some provinces, other people rely on the herbal doctor known as the albularyo for the treatment of illnesses related to kulam.