Love potion? Sa paglalandi lang (just for flirting). No to attraction of a sexual nature. Do not wreck the family. In times of war, amulets can save your life, although you may be injured by a bullet. Driving out evil spirits? We are just doing what Christ did.
These are just some of the revelations that visiting Manila media obtained from Junel Tomaroy, a traditional healer from the town of Maria in the mystical island province of Siquijor, Central Visayas, with its all-women police force, heritage churches, beautiful beaches, recommended resorts like Sunrise Cliff Beach House—and its air of mysticism, abounding with tales of beings from another dimension.
There is a massive balete tree on the island which is 400 to 500 years old; according to a friend, that tree has a “guardian.” I know what she meant. How enchanting.
Healer Tomaroy, who is also a visual artist who has exhibited in Baguio and other cities, was the briefing officer of the recent First Panambal (Healing) Festival in Maria’s Olang Arts Park. Siquijor Gov. Jake Vincent Villa sent an inspirational message. In her welcome remarks, Mayor Roselyn T. Asok said the town “is a healing place open to all, open all the days, not just during Semana Santa (Holy Week).”
She added, “What is important is to help people and to provide livelihood, for we plan to manufacture herbal medicine. Traditional healing, you know, is an art form.”
The three-day festival began with ritual ceremonies in which Tomaroy prayed over tourism officer Aldrin Dáguman (aka Aldrina Braxton), a flamboyant transgender, who was wrapped in an elegant malong with only her head visible. Then the healer applied a ritual massage on her.
The same procedure was repeated on Marylou Fernando, a health care technologist who is planning to promote the traditional healing products among European Union member countries. To the left sat a healer apparently awaiting a patient, and to the right, a healer in white was giving a patient a ritual massage. On the stage were the youthful members of the Olang Arts Park Orchestra, who provided the music for the opening ceremonies.
During the first day of the festival, the healers chopped all the collected ingredients so as to produce healing oil. These raw materials, stems and shrubs from the plants and branches, when chopped, washed and boiled, result in a drink which can address various illnesses. Tradition decrees that these preparations take place on Good Friday.
There were healing sessions and consultations that day with accredited Siquijodnon and guest traditional healers.
On the second day, all the collected materials were burned (pag-uuling), to be used as ingredients in the making of minasa (black wax). This process is resorted to, to create palina (ritual smoke) and produce the anting-anting (amulets, charms). To make them effective, the ingredients are mixed with tuba (wine), honey, beeswax, candles, incense, tawas (alum crystal) and kamangyang (frankincense). These amulets protect against bullets in times of war or conflict, the healers say; the bullet may injure you, but it will not kill you.
The healing oil was processed that day, even as the healing sessions, including palm reading and foot massages and consultations continued.
By tradition, the ingredients to be used in the process of making coconut oils and other special oils, such as lumay (the famous love potion) is obtained during the Salubong, in which the Resurrected Christ is reunited with the Mother of Sorrows.“Lumay is meant to bring positive values not only in one’s love life, but also luck in business, career, profession and even marital and family life,” said an informed source.
In an interview with the national media, healer Tomaroy said the effectiveness of what people usually refer to as love potion “depends on the ingredients, and it’s for paglalandi lang (just for flirting).” He added, “And it’s not for sexual attraction. Baka ma-karma … ”
He mentioned the herbs lumot and taginon, and that the concept of gayuma is that people will shift their attention to you; “sa paglalandi (in flirting), mawiwili ang tao sa iyo, lahat didikit sa’yo, sa jeans mo … (the person will be attracted to you, all will figuratively stick to you, to your jeans).” The herbs and plant species come from mangrove areas and the sea.
There are 377 plant varieties in Siquijor.
Abalon can bring you great wealth (“sobrang kita sa negosyo”), while tawa-tawa will make a person miss you. The gayuma should not go against family life, should not make a person single again and wreck his or her family life (“makakawasak ng pamilya”). There are restoration plants and varieties which heal any kind of sickness and make a person well again (“bumabalik sa dating kundisyon”).A woman’s “monthly visitor” can also be regulated.
Driving out evil spirits is par for the course for traditional healers, who are also spiritual, Tomaroy indicated. The ingredients for anti-kulam (exorcism) are taken from churches, like the church in Candelaria, Quezon; from flowers in cemeteries (“symbols of tears”); and cave stalactites.
The evil spirits scream when they are being driven out, the briefing officer said, just like in the Bible. “Some religious groups say we are doing the work of demons, but we are just doing what Christ did,” Tomaroy maintained. Surprisingly, he said it is easier to drive out demons than cure a person who is sick or coughing.
At the same time, the traditional healer said it is easier to cure physical sickness than that of one who is suffering psychologically and emotionally. As an example, Tomaroy cited a patient who was unable to sleep for two weeks because of some problem in the family. Once he grasped the situation, the healer slapped the patient—twice. And that cured her!
“That was a slap of a friend,” observed the healer-painter, with a hint at humor. “What is bad is the slap of an enemy.”
The first ever Panambal Festival ended on Easter Sunday. It is a precursor to a bigger event next year, also during Holy Week—the national convention of traditional healers, to be held in the towns of Maria and Larena in the captivating, otherworldly island province of Siquijor. —CONTRIBUTED INQ