Was balugo effective?

Cooper Bulago "Retired No Way" Soap

Cooper trying the bulago

Picking up from where I left off. Conrad of Bisucay island, Cuyo saw me take the photo below. He said, we’ve got those in Bisucay.

Balugo is an honest-to-goodness jungle vine.  It’s the kind that Tarzan would have been swinging from. The vines are really stout, about 5 centimeters (2 inches) in diameter. That mess down there consists of maybe a dozen segments of vine that were thrown into a bundle.

Balugo Gogo Gugu "Entada phaseoloides" "Retired No Way" Palawan Philippines

Balugo (Entada phaseoloides)

It originated from the Indian Ocean and eventually spread to Africa and Asia.

I didn’t see it being cut down. There were lots of mosquitoes where I got it from, Conrad told me.

Balugo is also known as gogo <but it’s pronounced Gu-gu>. That name I recall from when I was a little boy. Somehow I remember that gugu was soap of some kind.

The science behind the soap

Constituents Balugo "Philippine Medicinal Plants" "Retired No Way"

The constituents of Balugo (source: Philippine Medicinal Plants)

Philippine Medicinal Plants


  • In the Dutch Indies, young leaves are eaten, raw or cooked.
  • In Bali and Sumatra, the seeds after certain treatment, are eaten.
  • In South Africa, pod and seeds are used as coffee substitute.

Uses, Folkloric

  • For rheumatic lumbar and leg pains, sprains, contusions
  • For jaundice, edema due to malnutrition
  • Abdominal pains and colic
  • Counter-irritant
  • Used as hair growth stimulant
  • For skin itches
  • Stem, macerated in cold water, makes a cleansing soap
  • Seeds used as emetic (vomit-inducing agent)
  • In South Africa, seeds used by infants to bite on during their teething period. Also, used as remedy for cerebral hemorrhage.

Uses, Others

  • Hair: Used extensively in the Philippines and other oriental countries for washing the hair. Also, an ingredient of hair tonics. The bark is soaked in water until soft; the fibers are then spread, the juice is then expressed by rubbing the fibers against each other until it lathers, which is then used to cleanse the scalp. Seeds also used as hair wash.
  • Poison: Used as a fish poison.
  • Wood: Bark is used as cordage. In Europe, used for tinder and for making match boxes.
  • Plaything: Large pods and seeds used by children as playthings.
  • Illuminant: In the Sunda Islands, a fatty oil extracted from the seeds used as illuminant.
  • Snuff: In Europe, seeds reportedly used for snuff.

Saponins are natural detergents found in many plants. Balugo is rich in saponin.

Conrad drove me around Bisucay. The island has three barangays  connected by a concrete road. There are no tricycles on the island, only motorcycles and bicycles.

By the time the island tour ended, I was hot, sticky, itchy, and sweaty. I was in ideal condition to test the vine.


Harvest the bulago vine.

Bulago "Retired No Way" Soap

Bulago is a stout vine. The wood isn't so heavy.

Cut off a piece and pound the wood. The wood will not splinter and your hammer will not bounce off. Instead the wood will give in with a satisfying thud. Pound it until the fibers appear.

"Retired No Way" Bulago Soap

You pound the bark until you see individual fibers.

You can macerate it or not. I tried it both ways. Macerating it means submerging it in water until it softens and separates into its components.  The water became a little foamy. Just a little foam appeared. When I didn’t macerate it, there was even less foam.

In my photo, I’m using the actual smashed wood like a thick paper towel. I was itchy when this was taken and the balugo alleviated the itch.

Cooper Bulago "Retired No Way" Soap

I'm rubbing the smashed wood pulp on my skin.

A little wood pulp goes a long way.

Balugo skin "Retired No Way"

Wiping the wood pulp of Balugo on my skin.

Does it work? Yes it does but only as a survival technique. If soap is available, use it. If it isn’t, balugo will suffice until soap becomes available again.


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