BIRD GOD of ILLNESS and PESTILENCE
|Falling star photo courtsy of davmel.wordpress.com|
Bulalakaw is regarded more of an omen than an actual worshipped deity, although he is worshipped by babaylans, it is usually to spare the villages of the disasters a "bulalakaw" may bring to earth. It was once believed that whenever a comet is seen, pestilence is sure to follow. In ancient times, the people thought that when a star "falls" it usually means a bad omen is going to befall their community, especially if the comet "falls" on rainy, cold seasons, when sickness is rampant in the community due to lack of modern medicine and proper hygiene and sanitation observed by ancient communities, but nonetheless… ancient Visayans believed that the bird god of illness can be appeased by performing necessary rites and rituals are performed by the shamans or "babaylans". Some of the rituals and rites involve sacrifice of the flesh for the bird god, in order for him to be satiated during his rare visits to earth. These sacrifices of the flesh in ancient times include, animal sacrifices, sacrifices of young maidens or children and even drawing of one's own blood or flesh and burning it in the community fire to satisfy the deity.
|deviantart of the bird god of illness |
One should also take note that beliefs regarding Bulalakaw continued till the modern times, even as the Spanish missionaries converted the people to Christianity, and tried to change the belief's of the ancient Visayans, as the strong beliefs of this bringer of illness prevailed to this day, and until now whenever there is a comet that darts in the night sky, the superstitious folks would warn the children not to point at it, or bite their fingers when they do, warning them that Bulalakaw does not like to pointed at and might punish them for this deed.
as some believed he looks like a thin boy wearing a bird-like headdress or even a genderless deity with a bird's head. Some stories describe him to be a diwata who visits the earthly plane in form of a comet, hence the name "bulalakaw" (shooting star).