Defining Hilot according to Filipino living abroad Part 1
This pandemic of Coronavirus, staying at home and physical distancing made us to utilize more the available resources that we have such as the use of our laptop, desktop and mobile device to learn our cultural pride which is at the same time our very own Traditional Healing Arts and Science that we know as Hilot. It is a struggle for me to create this training program, since Hilot is more of Traditional Method whereas now we are using modern devices in order to share the wisdom of our Ancestors in Healthcare.
As we begin our online study on Non Contact Hilot training program, we ask our student on how they will define Hilot in this present generation. I will omit their name here but will share the works they have done and these are what they write about defining Hilot:
Introduction (from our June 2020 online trainee)
When I was growing up, my father taught me a form of massage that I thought was hilot, but in this essay, I will review the complex system of indigenous healing that is hilot based on the eight different sections presented by the Hilot Binabaylan Academy taught through Apu Adman and Lakay. These eight sections give an overview of the origin and virtues of hilot through the generations of healers, the terminology of health and illness, the understanding of health and illness through the natural law that is divided into purpose and integrity, and the modalities and healthcare delivery system of hilot. Lastly, I will conclude with how I would explain hilot to others.
The overview’s glossary of Tagalog-to-English terms, as well as clarify that hilot is more than just massage, is the highlight of this section for me. It is especially important for people in the diaspora, who may be reclaiming and relearning their languages to have access to the specific terminology of illness and wellness. Much of the heart of the culture is the language, and by beginning with a language lesson, we begin with a meeting of the heart and the mind, to bring about the voice.
Since the first section established that hilot is more than just massage, I found that this section on modalities is extremely important to describe what else is part of hilot. It also goes through the general framework of hilot procedures, which is very helpful and clear– there is a divination/diagnosis of illness with tawas, a cleansing with banyos and/or suob, then deep healing with hands-on methods, and then recommendations for home-care treatment such herbs, prayers, and lifestyle changes.
Though I am already familiar and have a deep respect for the virtues of hilot, what was important for me to understand here was the explanation around giving money and the belief that it lessens the ability to heal. My father has told me that according to the traditions in his lineage of hilot, we cannot put a price on the healing or touch the money directly afterwards and instead only accept donations preferably sent as an e-transfer or given to a third party to put in a box somewhere, but he never explained why this tradition existed. This beautiful explanation that life cannot be bought, that this is more of an energetic exchange, resonates with me deeply.
This is the first time I have been introduced to the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs and I am so deeply grateful. I am familiar with the petroglyphs of the indigenous peoples of this land and how it is connected to their healing and way of life, and to know that our people have that too makes me determined to not only do a pilgrimage to the petroglyphs of the Anishinaabe, but the petroglyphs in the Philippines. I am also grateful to the Kabunian creation story, and the use of the hands as the first healer, and the different kinds of clay that made the different peoples. I disagree that some people are burnt or undercooked, and instead see them as reflecting the different colours of the world around us.
Concept of Life, Health, Illness, and Wellness
The world “silbi”, or purpose, was significant for me in understanding life, health, illness, and wellness, as my whole understanding of wellness revolves around purpose. I appreciate the 10 different functions of life that is understood to be part of the purpose, but I also understand that each function is actually representative of a much larger spiritual concept, such as each organ or limb is a physical manifestation of a spiritual concept. For example, “reproduction” can mean physically reproducing, but it can also mean spiritual bringing forth more creation energy into the world through art, technology, creativity, joy. “Excretion” can mean the physical removal of waste, but it is also connected to all cleansing processes, including the spiritual ones. “Metabolism” are chemical reactions about breaking things down and releasing energy, but they are also the spiritual connection we have to other beings, and our place in the cycle of life and death. “Respiration” is very similar in that it represents spiritual connection, but this is more about the reciprocal stage that maintains life, as opposed to the cycle that also includes death.
Elements & Faculties
This section covers 13 different parts of life and humanity: 3 faculties (thoughts, words, and deeds), 5 elements (earth, wind, fire, water, spirit), and 5 aspects (physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual). By understanding the harmonious relations of these 13 concepts with each other and in themselves, we also have another picture of how “silbi”, what individual purpose, is all about, beyond the 10 functions described in the previous section. But more than just individual purpose, we have integrity, or dangal. The harmony of the functions, elements and aspects must be expressed in the faculties, which then can be witnessed as dangal/honour. Our individual purpose must manifest in this world with integrity, otherwise there is an imbalance, an illness.
Indication & Contraindication
Like the first section, I love the sixth section for the same reason– the language lesson, the deeper understanding of culture, and in this case, of “pilay”. By understanding the “natural law” that is also deeply outlined in sections 5 and 6, pilay can also be seen as ways that the natural law is broken. For example, “pilay lamig” is an indication that the elements are out of balance, that there isn’t enough fire, while “pilay hangin” shows that there is too much wind. Supporting rites of passage as a human grows also supports the function of “growth” and “metabolism” and “respiration”, the connections between beings, and the cycles of life and death.
Healing Practices and Healthcare Delivery System
Though I am familiar with the history of the different generations of healers, what is very helpful and new to me was the categories of preventive, promotive, curative/therapeutic, and rehabilitative. I find this very helpful because when I am doing tawas and it shows the different imbalances in the past, present, and future, then also I can use the framework of the healthcare delivery system to understand what to prescribe. If I am talking about the tawas paper that represents the future, then I will be prescribing preventative and promotive. If I am talking about the tawas paper in the past, it may be curative or rehabilitative. The tawas paper of the present can be any of the four.
From all that I have learned so far under this sacred and human guidance, I would tell people that Hilot is all about understanding natural law — what is the purpose of life and humanity, and how is that purpose expressed with integrity and honour. This natural law means many different parts are in balance (such as the functions, elements, and aspects), and when they are not in balance, we become ill. Pain and illness is a message from the universe about what needs balancing around us, and we understand that through tawas, a form of communication with the natural law of the human and the world around that human. Once the imbalances are determined, there are numerous methods to bring balance back, that must be done with the active participation of the one that is ill. This does not just include massage, but herbs, talismans, charms, potions, prayers, exercises, and lifestyle changes. The manghihilot is not just a masseuse– they are actually an interpreter and channel of natural law, a vessel for the Creator’s power and plan.
We would love to know what you think about our Training Program. If you have been already with us in the past and have experienced the wonderful healing arts of Hilot, kindly share your stories with us by sending us an email at email@example.com
You can also experience Hilot and learn with us by enrolling our Hilot Online Training Program. We still have a spot for our September 2020 class. To know more about our Non Contact Hilot Mind and Spirit Working Online Training Program, you may check out our page here.