Last Oct. 10, I was invited to speak about mystical tourism during the annual convention of Asia Pacific Travel Association held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila. I discussed the two types of culture of the Philippines and mystical tourism.
“Mystical,” according to the dictionary definition, refers to “something mysterious, or having a divine or sacred significance that is beyond human comprehension. It may also refer to something being supernatural, occult, magical, or of metaphysical significance.”
Mystical tourism refers to visiting places or witnessing phenomena considered to be mysterious or strange or magical. There are mystical tours in some Western countries, but almost nonexistent in the Philippines.
Mysticism belongs to the esoteric or hidden culture of the Philippines.
I believe that the Philippines, as well as other countries, have two types of culture. One is what I call exoteric, or open culture, and the other is esoteric or hidden culture.
Exoteric culture consists of the country’s visual arts (paintings, architecture), languages, literature, the performing arts (dances and songs), etc. These are studied in universities and they form part of Philippine cultural history.
Esoteric culture is not commonly seen by the public. It is almost like an underground culture. However, to my mind, esoteric culture is what defines Filipinos as a people. It is what makes us truly what we are and what differentiates us from other cultures.
By esoteric culture, I refer to the average Filipino’s belief in supernatural forces and preternatural creatures, his intuitive acceptance of the existence of the spiritual world, and the many hidden or secret practices and rituals that go with such beliefs.
Filipino culture is not a damaged culture, as some Western critics have observed, unless it changes so radically that it cannot be recognized anymore, just like what happened to the great militaristic Roman culture that had metamorphosed into the present Italian culture. One cannot recognize the former culture, except in its ruined amphitheaters, aqueducts and coliseums.
No, Filipino culture is not a damaged culture, despite the many things that are seemingly wrong with it.
But it is an “imposed” culture. It is simply our tendency to mold our culture after Western models and our utter inability to see and capitalize on the strength of what is truly our very own.
Almost 400 years of Christian religious indoctrination and 50 years of Hollywood propaganda have rendered the Filipino a cultural schizophrenic. In his sober moments, he remembers his proud Malay heritage and becomes nationalistic. At
another moment, he goes into a mental lapse and becomes a “xenophiliac,” one with an inordinate love for all things foreign.
Is there still hope for the Filipino? Not as long as he refuses to see what is hidden, and in that he needs help.
There is a possibility of integrating the fragmented Filipino personality, but he must do it for himself and by himself. He should not look outside himself for help, for he can never find the solution there. He must look deep within his other inner self, his hidden culture, for the solution, for the proper integration of his being. There is no other way.
In the Western hemisphere, mystical tourism consists mainly of visiting haunted places, specially in England. I do not encourage such type of tourism in the Philippines. Because of our sensitive nature, visiting haunted places can result in spirit possession, which is dangerous.
There are many interesting mystical places in the Philippines. We can encourage tourists both local and foreign to visit such places as Mt. Banahaw in Lucban, Quezon; Siquijor Island near Dumaguete; to experience fire walking; to participate in the dangerous ritual of the Haring Bakal in Lipa, Batangas; or undergo psychic surgery in Manila, Pangasinan and Baguio City.
There are many other mystical places undiscovered in our 7,100 islands. We only need to open our eyes and explore them. Properly organized, explained and promoted, there can be a big worldwide market for this type of tourism.
The Basic ESP Seminar will be held Oct. 19 to 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tel. 8-8107245 or 0998-9886292; email [email protected]