Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nebraska Anthropologist (2011) 26.

Author also known as Angela Mae ("Mayo") C. Buenafe-Ze.


Published in the NEBRASKA ANTHROPOLOGIST, Volume 26 (2011). Published by the Anthropology Student Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588. Copyright © 2011, University of Nebraska-Lincoln's AnthroGroup.


Legal Pluralism is a pervasive social phenomenon encompassing issues relevant to the protection and preservation of indigenous peoples' intellectual and cultural properties. This study focuses on the sacred lfugao bulul or lfugao rice granary guardian spirit, which is being sold and traded as antiques, cultural properties, and tourist souvenirs. The sacred lfugao bulul is studied as an intellectual and cultural property and explores how it can be authenticated, preserved, and protected within three legal systems: Customary Law (lfugao rituals, beliefs, and practices), State Law (Cultural Properties Protection and Preservation Act or P.D. 374), and International Law (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines or R.A. 8293 in patenting industrial designs derived from the international laws on intellectual property). The scope of preserving and protecting the sacred lfugao bulul under these laws is described through the legal pluralism phenomenon. Data was gathered from interviews with lfugao mumbaki or shamans and woodcarvers who implement the customary laws; as well as authorities of the Intellectual Property Office and National Museum of the Philippines who implement the state laws. Data is presented in the context of legal pluralism's implications on the sacred lfugao bulul as sacred objects of the lfugao, cultural properties, and intellectual property. Results of the study prove the lack of an existing comprehensive legal mechanism to authenticate, protect, and preserve the sacred lfugao bulul. This is reflective of issues regarding indigenous people's rights to self-determination and cultural representation.