Despite its humble image, the puso actually has a rich history behind it. It was a ritual object used in the animist religion practiced by the people before the Spanish colonization of the country. It was associated by pre-Hispanic Cebuanos to a unique mystical experience. But this practice was obliterated since it was frowned upon by the Spaniards. According to Dr. Reynaldo Inocian, the expert puso makers are called the “manlalah.” Weaving the puso is a part of the informal education in the upland areas of Cebu. Mothers teach the skill as part of their preparation for the “hikayan.”
The term “puso” may have originated from the time when Cebuanos wanted to make the Chinese rice dumpling or the ma-chang. According to a story, when a Cebuano showed a Chinese what he made, the Chinese said “phu-shi,” which is Chinese for “it is not.” The Chinese also pointed to the rice dumpling while saying “ma-chang.” The Cebuano later realized his product was a “pu-so” and not the ma-chang.