According to folklore, the Bungisngis is a one-eyed giant man with big teeth and two large fangs. His name is derived from the word ‘ngisi’ which means ‘to grin’ because he always grins and laughs. He is said to have a thick, protruding upper lip so large that he uses it to cover the top of his head like a hat. He has superb hearing. His thighs are extremely long that when he squats his knees are two spans higher than his shoulders. He dwells allegedly in the forests of Meluz, Orion, Bataan and carries a club, which he uses to kill prey. He has a voracious appetite for anything palatable from animals, fruits, vegetables, roots, to cooked food. Being a giant, the Bungisngis possesses incredible strength. Despite his hulking size and terrifying look, the Bungisngis is dim-witted. His kin in Northern Davao is known as Mahentoy while in Tayabas, Quezon a similar creature is called Bulislis.
The Three Friends – The Monkey, The Dog, and The Carabao
Once there lived three friends—a monkey, a dog, and a carabao. They were getting tired of city life, so they decided to go to the country to hunt. They took along with them rice, meat, and some kitchen utensils.
The first day the carabao was left at home to cook the food, so that his two companions might have something to eat when they returned from the hunt. After the monkey and the dog had departed, the carabao began to fry the meat. Unfortunately the noise of the frying was heard by the Buñgisñgis in the forest. Seeing this chance to fill his stomach, the Buñgisñgis went up to the carabao, and said, “Well, friend, I see that you have prepared food for me.”
For an answer, the carabao made a furious attack on him. The Buñgisñgis was angered by the carabao’s lack of hospitality, and, seizing him by the horn, threw him knee-deep into the earth. Then the Buñgisñgis ate up all the food and disappeared.
When the monkey and the dog came home, they saw that everything was in disorder, and found their friend sunk knee-deep in the ground. The carabao informed them that a big strong man had come and beaten him in a fight. The three then cooked their food. The Buñgisñgis saw them cooking, but he did not dare attack all three of them at once, for in union there is strength.
The next day the dog was left behind as cook. As soon as the food was ready, the Buñgisñgis came and spoke to him in the same way he had spoken to the carabao. The dog began to snarl; and the Buñgisñgis, taking offence, threw him down. The dog could not cry to his companions for help; for, if he did, the Buñgisñgis would certainly kill him. So he retired to a corner of the room and watched his unwelcome guest eat all of the food. Soon after the Buñgisñgis’s departure, the monkey and the carabao returned. They were angry to learn that the Buñgisñgis had been there again.
The next day the monkey was cook; but, before cooking, he made a pitfall in front of the stove. After putting away enough food for his companions and himself, he put the rice on the stove. When the Buñgisñgis came, the monkey said very politely, “Sir, you have come just in time. The food is ready, and I hope you’ll compliment me by accepting it.”
The Buñgisñgis gladly accepted the offer, and, after sitting down in a chair, began to devour the food. The monkey took hold of a leg of the chair, gave a jerk, and sent his guest tumbling into the pit. He then filled the pit with earth, so that the Buñgisñgis was buried with no solemnity.
When the monkey’s companions arrived, they asked about the Buñgisñgis. At first the monkey was not inclined to tell them what had happened; but, on being urged and urged by them, he finally said that the Buñgisñgis was buried “there in front of the stove.” His foolish companions, curious, began to dig up the grave. Unfortunately the Buñgisñgis was still alive. He jumped out, and killed the dog and lamed the carabao; but the monkey climbed up a tree, and so escaped.
One day while the monkey was wandering in the forest, he saw a beehive on top of a vine.
“Now I’ll certainly kill you,” said some one coming towards the monkey.
Turning around, the monkey saw the Buñgisñgis. “Spare me,” he said, “and I will give up my place to you. The king has appointed me to ring each hour of the day that bell up there,” pointing to the top of the vine.
“All right! I accept the position,” said the Buñgisñgis. “Stay here while I find out what time it is,” said the monkey. The monkey had been gone a long time, and the Buñgisñgis, becoming impatient, pulled the vine. The bees immediately buzzed about him, and punished him for his curiosity.
Maddened with pain, the Buñgisñgis went in search of the monkey, and found him playing with a boa-constrictor. “You villain! I’ll not hear any excuses from you. You shall certainly die,” he said.
“Don’t kill me, and I will give you this belt which the king has given me,” pleaded the monkey.
Now, the Buñgisñgis was pleased with the beautiful colors of the belt, and wanted to possess it: so he said to the monkey, “Put the belt around me, then, and we shall be friends.”
The monkey placed the boa-constrictor around the body of the Buñgisñgis. Then he pinched the boa, which soon made an end of his enemy. Source: Filipino Popular Tales Collected and Edited with Comparative Notes By Dean S. Fansler (1921)
Ramos, Maximo D. (1990) . Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. Quezon: Phoenix Publishing. p. 76.