KUNG HEI FAT CHOI = HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Tomorrow will be the Chinese New Year known as the Year of the Water Dragon (Bis: Siwágà sa Tubig) that occurs every 60 years.

A shaman is someone who has the inborn ability to cure illnesses.  In Bohol we call them tambalan or orasyonan.  A tambalan usually uses herbs, plants, roots, etc. as a means of effecting a cure.  They are now called herbalist.  An orasyonan relies much on his incantations to produce a cure.

In former times they were called “quack doctors”.  However, anthropologists nowadays call them shamans because in some cases they can really effect a cure that could not yet be explained by science.

The Encounter

When I had my ingrown nails removed by a pedicurist, she told me of a shaman from the town of Pres. Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol.  She told me that from her body was removed a live hermit crab (umang) inside a shell of a pyrula (aninikad).  The story piqued my interest to meet the shaman.

By means of modern text messaging, an appointment was made to see her (the shaman) at a barrio near Poblacion, Ubay, Bohol.  I met her on Friday, January 13, and Sunday, January 15, 2012.  I accompanied a patient to see what would happen.

The Procedure

I have seen shamans perform their procedures of treatment and this particular shaman had her own procedure.  She calls it “Lahid”.  I think it comes from the words “Láhon – multi-tasking; to do/obey two or more task at the same time” and “Pahid – wipe”. (Note: The shaman claims to have three (3) active guiding spirits out of twelve (12) guiding spirits.)

A ginger (luy-a) was bought from the sari-sari store.  This piece of ginger was chopped into tiny bits by means of a bolo.  Then two pieces of stalks, about 11/2 inches long, from the badyang taro plant was taken.  These too were chopped into tiny bits.

The two materials were then mixed together and placed in a black handkerchief-like piece of cloth.  Note that this process was done by another person.  It could also be done by anybody who likes to do it.

The shaman then pours an amount of soot taken from a cooking pot.  It was then mixed with the other materials.  Then the shaman pours an amount of coconut oil (lana).  The shaman did not touch the mixture that was stirred by another person by means of a stick similar to a barbecue stick or by the bolo.

I saw that the mixture became like a black dough.  To remove any doubt that something was embedded, I was allowed to probe the mixture by means of the stick.

The black handkerchief was then folded and tied.  It then looked like a pouch.  The shaman then went to the patient and recited some incantations on the head, breast, and belly of the patient.

Someone then rubbed the black pouch over the body of the patient.  Anybody could do the rubbing.  The shaman was outside talking to me while the rubbing was done.

When the rubbing was done, the black pouch was brought outside the room.  (Note: The rubbing was done inside the room because the patient will undress while the rubbing was done by someone of the patient’s confidence.)

In the bright sunlight, in front of everybody, the black pouch was untied and unwrapped.  By means of stick the black powder was spread out. (Note: It became dry because the oil stuck to the body of the patient.)

Anybody could do the spreading of the black powder.  When the powder was spread, among the residue of ginger and soot were a clump of human hair, and a small cubical metal about 1 cm long and ½ cm wide and with needle-like appendage.  Those objects were not there when I inspected the black dough before it was wrapped.

I could not explain where the objects came from except the esoteric explanation that it was a physchic manifestation.  You could not suspect the shaman because she did not touch anything.  Her only function in the whole process was to recite the incantation over the patient.

In the next treatment, there was a manifestation of a clay pot shard and in another one there was a manifestation of a shall metallic wire with blue color.

I asked the shaman that I will undergo the same procedure.  When the shaman looked at me, she told me that my illness was natural and part of growing old and not brought about by evil intentions of others.  True enough when I underwent the procedure, there was no manifestation among the black powder.

There were claims of cures from illnesses.  Maybe it was true.  What I was interested in was the psychic manifestation of objects by the sheer mental power of a shaman.

I would not call it a miracle (Bis: a tagúhom).  It is just a preternatural (taguhálà) happening.

A Powerful Shaman

Since pre-historic times, different cultures relied only on the shaman for a cure.  The shamans are still in Bohol.  Note that the Province of Siquijor was once part of Bohol.  The “offensive” shamans (those who cause harm) were driven by the Spaniards and Siquijor was the remotest part of Bohol.  The “defensive” shamans (those who make cures) are still plenty in Bohol.

I have seen the “bulo-bulo” of Siquijor but the manifested objects were always inanimate or had no life.  The shaman from CPG town sometimes produced live objects like a hermit crab or cockroach.  It means that her power is higher.  The drawback with her psychic power is that she could not produce the object on call.  She would just wait what would manifest and you will not know from what particular part of the body the object came from.

The basic difference between the lahid and the bulo-bulo, is that in the lahid, the manifested objects are not to be touched but immediately burned.  In the bulo-bulo, the manifested objects are given to you.

Of course, the power of our shamans is way below that of Jesus Christ and some Indian yogis who can produce the cure or manifestation on call.  By just saying so, Jesus Christ turned water into wine.


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