The Folk Healers of San Antonio, Siquijor

To many, Siquijor has always been associated with mysticism. While most associate it with witchcraft, black magic, mambabarangs, aswangs, and the darker side of a world parallel to ours, these perceptions are unreal and unfair. It is true that at times in the past, there were stories of mamaktols being sought in the land. But these are few and far in between. The widely propagated ill perception sometimes does add to Siquijor's mystic charm. But when you get to learn more about the island, the mystical practices actually focus more on the good than the bad. One such place that disproves the misconceptions about the island's mystic practices is San Antonio in Siquijor town. This mountain barangay in the hilly interior or Siquijor is home to many folk healers in the island. 

Faith Healing in Siquijor

The Association of Siquijor Healers is an organization of folk healers in Siquijor. Ten (10) out of its sixty nine (69) members reside in San Antonio, the known bailiwick of herbalists. Herbalists from the area learn the craft of creating herbal oils as early as 13 years old, usually a tradition passed on from their great great grandparents. Most of the herbal oils made in the area uses coconut as a base. These oils that can be used for protection and treatment are either placed in small containers or stuffed in colorful bracelets.

Folk Healers in San Antonio Village Siquijor Central Visayas Philippines
Assortment of herbal concoctions in San Antonio, Siquijor, Siquijor, Philippines

Contrary to popular belief, the mystic practices of Siquijor focuses on healing maladies and not propagating ill against others. Faith healers in this part of the world engage in palm reading, yamyam, massage, treatment for food poisoning, and countering ills done by bad elementals. Another popular folk healing method is the bolobolo of which Nanay Conching of Tag-ibo San Juan is the most famous practitioner. While many would remain skeptical about these traditional healing practices in a modern world, there are many who still believe and actually flock to Siquijor specially during the Lenten season. In fact, a healing festival actually happens in San Antonio every Holy Week.

Folk Healers in San Antonio Village Siquijor Central Visayas Philippines

The folk healers we visited during a recent trip to the mystic island, Annie and Ando Ponce, engages in himulso or pulse consultation, toob or smoke herbal healing, tawal or ritual healing, and hilot or traditional massage. They also sell herbal oils as liniment or for protection. I was also amused that they sell lumay or love potion.

Folk Healers in San Antonio Village Siquijor Central Visayas Philippines
Attempt to make lana in San Antonio, Siquijor, Siquijor, Philippines

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