- Religion and Philosophy
The Filipino Witchcraft: An Odyssey to the Unknown
In a country whose religion was deeply rooted from one of the colonizers, the Philippines has the most number of Christians in Asia. Although this was a known fact, we also have our share of the dark side. This reality can be attributed to the people’s superstitious beliefs and partly the religion as well.
In most parts of the country, modernization is still at its dawn. Some parts especially those in the rural areas were just awakening to the wonders of electric power. The darkness open their awareness of beings and creatures from the dark side along with the malice and mischief that they are capable of inflicting to another when given the motive and opportunity. Growing up in the city, I only heard of stories mostly testimonies from people who experienced being the victim of kulam or hex. They would be experiencing nightmares and their minds will be filled by flashes of the client’s face. The worst that could happen are boils that would appear on different parts of the body and sometimes when the hex was so great it can cause one to spit out insects and worms which will eventually lead to his/her death. It’s quite frightening to learn that a religious country like ours can do something horrible to another out of revenge. I believe that awareness should be our first defense. We need to know enough of the ways to anticipate, counteract and thwart any possible strike. In failing to do so, we need to recognize their handiwork and where and how to seek the appropriate antidote, treatment and cure.
The mangkukulam or sorcerer uses hex or black magic to harm others. They usually recite spells, charms and incantations. They normally use a doll to represent the person being hexed and the needle will be pricked to any part of the body so that the victim would feel the pain. If they wish to kill the person, they would prick the needle to the heart or any vital organs. To render the service for kulam, you need to bribe the sorcerer. In the olden times, you can give crops and livestock but nowadays, they would normally charge you a rate from 2000 pesos to as high as 20,000 pesos. For the hex to be effective, one must have a personal belonging of the individual. They can also use a strand of hair or even a picture.
To reverse the effect of hex, the people would seek out the help of an albularyo or herbal doctor. He would also recite incantations or prayers and would put herbs on the victim’s forehead with his spit on it. Sometimes, they can readily tell who did the hex through the candle tears in a basin half-filled with water. The candle tears form a shape of either human or elemental beings. Same with the mangkukulam, the albularyos will not ask directly for a payment but will solicit donation. I have a friend who visited his relatives in Siquijor, ( which by the way, is one of the popular provinces in the country inhabited by sorcerers and herbal doctors alike ) who lost his way and ended up in the hut of a mangkukulam. He was offered protection in the form of a potion which was black in color for the price of 2000 pesos. Prior to visiting, he was warned by relatives not to show fear to anyone and he told me that he mustered all his strength and bravery to say no to the sorcerer’s offer. He declined respectfully by saying that they just lost their way and was trying to find the direction back. If ever needed, he took the address and number of the sorcerer.
The Filipino Culture is quite diverse and though we are keeping in pace with technology some parts of the country are not yet ready to embrace modernization. Though this is the case, I can still see the happy and contented faces in them because they’re living a simple life. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the mockery of my very own culture. I just noticed that their lives is not that complicated compared to those living in the city. We need to understand that in order for them to go to a hospital or health center, they need money and transportation whereas the usual route to a herbal doctor’s hut will only take a few steps from your house. A medicine for a fever will cost about say, 100 pesos enough to buy a meal till lunch whereas if you have the medicinal herbs available in your garden or neighbor’s backyard, there’s no need for you to buy them.
There’s more to just living comfortably at home with the latest gadgets and designs from technology. There are things that can’t be explained and even science cannot logically put into context why hexes or even potions has an effect to a person. I guess it’s all about faith. There’s a great fear of the unknown and only a few would dare to unravel the secrets behind it. As I’ve mentioned earlier, being aware of things is crucial. Awareness combats ignorance.