NEATLY dressed Jun Pacheco sits in a stool along Luzuriaga Street fronting the Central Market in Bacolod. Beside him is a small side table with oils he use in his trade. Mr. Pacheco can take away your pains with his hands. By trade we can call him a masseur, but in our culture he would be a “hilot.”
This modern day “hilot” can heal not only your body pains; some of them can heal sprains in any part of the arms or legs. They are also the person one can go to when a child is sick and referred as one having “kibit.”
One of the famous manoghilot was Tya Passing at Kilometrahe Trese (13th Kilometer) in Barangay Calumangan Bago City. In her lifetime she was able to heal hundreds of Negrenses who trooped to her house when in pain or sick or have sprains. She had passed away but left the “gift” to a daughter who now lives across the street from her house.
In almost all towns and cities in the Philippines one can find the likes of Tya Passing. Today in the urban city like Bacolod some of them are found in the sidewalks, patiently waiting for people who need their services.
Across the street from Mr. Pacheco, one can find vendors selling different concoctions, oils, minerals, and other materials use in healing by the “sorhano.” These healers deal with the art of healing not only the muscles and bones but the body itself and the spirits that “invade” us.
They could reach into the inside of the body as well as those that ail the skin. They can also heal the spirit and even cast away invading forces beyond our dimension. These would include what we call the “tamawo,” “encantos,” and the bad ones like the “aswang.” The sorhano, like the hilot, are part of our modern-day culture and tradition.
The presence of the hilot and sorhano in our midst in the so- called digital age is a testament to the resiliency of practices from the distant past, which can and still thrives in our age and time.
Though we are in the 21st century, with specialized medical practitioners, we somehow retain the animistic legacy of our forefathers. Practices, prejudices, and superstitions still inhabit our psyche.
As we progress into the future and imbibe what scientific and technological changes that will affect our lives, a bit of that past shall always remain with us.