The Last Hunger

Blog 42 1.7 MB bulul_jvengua-12-30-2017
Image: “Bulul” by Jean Vengua, ink on Arches paper, 2017

Despite the bulul being largely manufactured for the tourist trade today and having become synonymous with Filipino pasalubong (i.e. souvenir), a bulul is a carved wooden figure representing a rice deity and originally used by the Ifugao, one of the indigenous peoples of the northern Philippines, to guard their rice crops. Traditionally carved in narra, bulul were highly stylized representations of ancestors, and were thought to gain power from the presence of the ancestral spirit.

*updated as of November 21, 2022

Dear Reader,

This article has been removed and is forthcoming in my second essay collection scheduled for release in Spring/Summer 2023. Information for purchase of the collection will be posted in early 2023. The collection will include a few essays that first appeared here on Slicing Tomatoes as well as various pieces that first appeared in journals and anthologies. Otherwise, please enjoy this beautiful art piece, Bulul, by Jean Vengua and these personal photographs that were taken while visiting both my parents’ ancestral barrios in Ilocos Sur and La Union in 2008 to 2009. 

Thank you for stopping by.

~Elsa Valmidiano

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