Tambalan: philippine traditional herbalist

Now-a-days, we hear the word albularyo and albularya as Filipino Traditional Healer who uses herbs and prayers in Healing. And modern institution want to change the terminology into more appropriate word and modify it’s practice into modern ways. Instead of Albularyo or Albularya (which has genderdization to pertain to male or female practitioner), they want it to be called Herbularyo to emphasize the word Herbs. Though this name is of Spanish origin and it replaced the original term of our ancestors as Tambalan.

Tambal were all plants, roots, leaves, or bark with medicinal properties, for which reason
the Spaniards called the tambalan an herbolario, “one who has knowledge of plants [hierbas],
their powers and properties.”

William Henry Scott, Baranggay Chapter 6: Natural Science, Treatment

Though eversince, Tambalan were known to be expert in herbal medicine but in fact they are not. Tambalan are only medium of the spirits whether be from the ancestral spirits, nature spirits or the diwata. The Knowledge of Tambalan or mananambal in herbal plants comes from the Guidance of Abyan or Gabay of the Healer. And most likely these healers are unschooled and have no formal education unlike today. The knowledge that people have comes from their family elders and instructions are being taught at home. Aside from our Family Elders, the community also recognize a wise and persuasive elder which they call as Parawali.

At this present time, the movement to revive our Philippine Traditional Medicine gets the attention of our Government officials that it is now being offered at School either through Technical Education Skills Development Authority, Philippine Institute of Traditional Alternative Health Care and even at Department of Science and Technology.

Esquire Magazine have an Article posted about albularyo which you can access through this link. ALBULARYO

These modern movement in reviving our very own Traditional Medicine but modifying its practice and to exclude the spiritual aspect of the craft may affect its nature. Earlier this Year dated January 21, 2020- I have written Pitahc and have expressed my willingness to share my knowledge and expertise to them. And that is through the Art of Tawas, Pagpapahid and Herbs. But as they respond to me, the only thing that they allowed is the Massage part or pagpapahid and herbs. They have no clear response about Tawas as traditional medicine method. And that is the same thing i have received when i was working with Tesda, they exclude tawas.

On our Part, we can not exclude the practice of Pagtatawas in healing because we believe that in order to provide effective treatment plan we must also provide effective diagnostic measure and evaluation of the patient. A body without a spirit is dead; so as a treatment without a spirit is making a Zombie or Amaranhig.

Hilot Recipe works wonder

I was able to talk to a friend yesterday from overseas and she mention that her mother is ill. I ask her what kind of illness that struck her mother and she told me that her mother is having difficulty to walk due to constant numbness of both of her legs.

I do distant tawas on her to see what the cause of her illness. And this is what I saw. As the oil drips as i introduce it to the flame of candles, it forms an intestine. As i finish the ritual, the smoke attached to the paper formed the image of a girl that has black spot on her chest. I tell her the situation of having emotional disturbance that she confirm to me to be right. I also mention the intestine that i saw that might cause her irritation. She confirms that she also have difficulty in her bowel movement that i made me land to provide recommendation of using Coconut Milk and Carrots as a remedy for 7 days which she will take on alternate days.

It means if she take the coconut milk with carrots juice today, tomorrow she will not take it but on the other day until she complete 7 intake of the recipe. And today as she does it, she message me with her testimony. ( I hide her identity as part of client privacy. I do not usually expose the names of my client or patient even with consent. This is part of the sacredness of our practice in hilot.)

In this situation of Pandemic, we as manghihilot are not hindered to provide our care to people who need our services. We can still provide our wisdom to people who needs for it. So if you need our help, you can also connect with us by contacting Apu Adman Aghama through his mobile number at +639952467040 or email at hilot.binabaylan@gmail.com

No Therapeutic Claim

Before the discovery of modern medicine, people around the world heavily rely on the power of nature to provide cure when they are sick; and these practices of our ancestors are now known as Traditional Medicine which in the Philippines is known as Hilot. As the modern medicine rise into power, they dismantle the role of traditional medicine to be an alternative and made the modern medicine as the conventional and more accepted form of providing cure. So the people who practice the traditional form of medicine was set aside so that the conventional medicine could work out in taking care of the health of the people. And those people who do use plant medicine in healing, they are encourage to brand their form of Medicine to have NO THERAPEUTIC CLAIM. It is known that years before the coming of Spain in our country, our ancestors rely on the efficacy of Plant Medicine to affect cure from any illnesses. It is also been recorded that Spanish Friars have conducted research on the Plant Medicine that our ancestors used until the first modern pharmacy was established in our country on 1830.

But now-a-days when a traditional healer produce and manufacture herbal medicine, the Pharmaceutical will label it as Food Supplement that has No Therapeutic Claim. Indeed as true as it was said by Hippocrates who was known to be the Father of Modern Medicine that:

Let Food be your medicine, and your Medicine be your Food.

Hippocrates

As Human being living in the modern day, we eat food 3 times a day or more. We eat breakfast, Lunch and Dinner plus the time we eat snacks. We eat our food to give us energy and strength. But we do not eat the prescribed medicine more than the recommended dosage that was given to us by the doctor. And those who do are known to be substance abuser which becomes an illness as well.

At this time of Pandemic, Hilot practitioners have the desire to help people by providing them relief from Covid 19 through Suob. But the Health Department whether locally or internationally have forbidden it’s use as it does not provide cure.

We agree that our practice will never provide nor Claim any Therapeutic Cure. As this will violate our Teaching that the Human Body has the ability to heal them selves from any diseases. The techniques that we apply does not compete to the modern technology that the modern medicine have, but our techniques only aim to assist the individual who suffer from illness and disease to find their own power to heal themselves. The video presented here talked about our role in Facilitating healing by removing the obstacle to the flow of the life force within the body of man. But until there is no exact cure for Covid 19, we pray that our Government will allow us to contribute in sharing our knowledge in caring for the people whom we love.

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.

General Overview

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.

Modalities

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.

Virtues

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.

Origins

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.

Conclusion

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 hilot.binabaylan@gmail.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.

Our Body Speaks

It is not only through our mouth that people could speak, but as we learn how to read pulse we understand that even our Internal Organs are communicating to us. Indeed that monitoring our Pulse can help us determine the status of our Health. But understanding the characteristics of each pulse will help us know what is going on inside us as well as through its behaviour we can be able to project what is going to happen in the Future.

In this short video clip we have discuss about what the Pericardium or Heart Constrictor tells about our personality as each of our Internal Organs if we learn to communiate with them, they have a lot of stories to tell us. This is one of the skills that we share to our students when you enroll to our Non Contact Hilot Training Program.

Since we are all in Pandemic and most countries in the world limit people from Traveling, this course is ideal to take at the comfort of your home.

Get to know more about our Hilot Online Training program by clicking on the Picture link below .

Embracing the Challenges of Time

Hilot is a Filipino Traditional Healing modality that been passed down by our ancestors orally to their relatives and students. Most of the time people learn this sacred healing arts through apprenticeship and not in school. Usually patients who has been healed by a Manghihilot are the one who are likely to become an apprenctice of manghihilot as that person will share the gift of healing that they receive from Hilot. And now at this 21st century, Hilot is adopting to the modern challenges of this world that we can now learn this sacred healing arts and science of Filipino Hilot Online.

Before the pandemic of Coronavirus, Hilot Academy of Binabaylan offers in person and live in training program to any individual that wish to learn our Ancient and Sacred Healing Arts of the Filipino People. People from different countries such as USA, Canada, France, Austria, Italy, Japan and Chile have come to the Philippines to learn Hilot. But because of the Pandemic and the social distancing policy implemented by most government leaders, Hilot Training has been halted. But on June 2020, we have open up our academy again but this time students will not come to the Philippines but instead they can learn Hilot at the comfort of their home through our Hilot Online Training.

The face-to-face training will be missed but people around the world will now have an opportunity to learn Hilot even without coming to the Philippines through our online platform which is at Google Classroom. And this website that is powered by WordPress.com is very beneficial in becoming an instrument of Defining Hilot of the 21st Century to the world. Of course aside from Google and WordPress, we also upload our Video lectures through YouTube. And here is one of our lessons that we talk about in Hilot Online Training.

If you are interested to learn Hilot, our August 2020 Class is now open for enrollment. Kindly click here for details.

Reading Signs and Symbols in Tawas

Today in our Hilot Online Training we have talked about signs and symbols in reading tawas. And as I look back to our memories posted at Facebook, here what i found.

Day is light; night for darkness; moon calls the tide; and clouds for the rain; smoke rise to signal a fire; and a flower bloom to signal a tree bearing fruit. Strong winds, thunder and lightning if there is a storm.

Mother nature provide us clear sign to know the time.

Years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds we have but still short for us to live.

Live life worthily in accordance to our purpose in order to enjoy wellness and doing not so will make us suffer to illness.

Resolving Crisis together

After featuring Suob/ Tuob at Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho at GMA TV Network in the Philippines it gain popularity to our local Filipino people that give them hope in protecting themselves from the harmful effect of Coronavirus in their lives. Though in our statement we have said that Suob/ Tuob or Palina is not a cure for this pandemic virus but we have emphasize that it can provide relief to the symptoms of this disease.

We acknowledge the fact that modern medicine in no chance will favor to the ways of Traditional Medicine Treatment Procedure, and by all means we see that they will find ways to debunk all the efforts of our Traditional Medicine Practitioners in doing our part to find relief and cure to the pandemic crisis situation.

The Philippine Department of Health have released a Warning Announcement on their Facebook page on June 25, 2020 discouraging the public to practice Suob/ Tuob as Traditional Healthcare. In their post we can see this:

PUBLIC WARNING ABOUT STEAM INHALATION OR TRUTH Steam inhalation or steam inhalation with salt, lemon, etc.  does not kill the COVID-19 virus and is not part of the procedure to prevent COVID-19.  Even the CDC and WHO strongly deny that steam inhalation outperforms COVID-19.  No scientific study to date has proven this.  There is a possibility (aerosolization), which may be the cause of the spread of the disease.  vapor inhalation Steam inhalation multiplies the (liquid) potential of infection by sneezing It can also cause accidents such as burns and skin rashes.  secretions in nasal cough.

With this public warning done by the Philippine Department of Health, i feel that they neglect their part in doing Scientific Study on the use of Suob/Tuob and they choose not to focus on the Cheap and Free Method of Healing as they will continue to promote modern medicine that will cost people a lot of money to secure their health.

Republic Act 8423 was made to establish the Philippine Institute of Traditional Alternative Healthcare which is an attached agency for the Philippine Department of Health as it was mandated to:

  • Encourage Scientific Research on and develop Traditional and Alternative Healthcare System that have a direct impact on Public Healthcare.
  • To promote and advocate the use of Traditional, Alternative, Preventive and Curative Healthcare modalities that have been proven safe, effective, cost effective, and consistent with government standards on medical practice.

Through these two statements derived from the mandated law, we can see that the Philippine Department of Health is directly debunking the efforts of PITAHC in promoting Philippine Traditional Healthcare. As we can see their efforts in providing cure and relief to the Common Filipino People.

So now from these two statements coming from one Government Agencies we see contradiction to one another.

The practice of Traditional Medicine may not be scientific in accordance to the Standard of Modern Medicine and Healthcare provider. It only shows that our practice of Traditional Medicine goes beyond the foundation of modern school that discover and institutionalize Modern Science and Medicine to school, colleges and Universities.

Traditional Filipino Medicine never claims that our Treatment can provide cure to any ailments and disease as it will goes against to our Teaching that our Body has the ability to heal ourselves. With that being taught to us, what we do is help the body find relief and empower the self to bring forth healing towards individual.

Apu Adman Aghama, Hilot Binabaylan of habi

We do not provide poisons to harm an individual but we seek to strengthen the person that they may be healed to themselves.

Suob/Tuob will never be a Cure. But with the Diligence and consideration of Modern Medical Practitioner in conducting scientific studies to this treatment may provide great impact to the common people in caring for their own Health.

Hilot Academy of Binabaylan salutes the effort of Philippine Institute of Traditional Alternative Healthcare in advocating to promote Suob/Tuob as Philippine Traditional Medicine.

Thank You for making a Stand for all of Us!

Mabuhay po Kayo!

The Sacred Fire of Life

It’s been one year already that we have our Hilot Binabaylan come to learn with us. And i want to share it here for the world to know her experience.

4 years ago, nati and mamerto did a spirit clearing on me and said that I am the reincarnation of my great great lolo; that something not finished is coming through me. my family does not have access to that generation, but this past Christmas, I found out that great lolo fermin was a manghihilot. reiki has been so helpful in my healing, but I felt it was necessary to honor and learn my own people’s energy and healing modalities, especially knowing healers were in my family.

for months I have been setting the intention to learn hilot, and today, I was initiated as hilot binabaylan. i laugh because universe has a way of synchronicity. I found out only recently that the training would be an 8-day live in study, and decided to change my plans so that I can squeeze in training before the busyness of HK and expo. today was my last day of study and of course it ends up being on the strawberry moon, a portal of expansion and initiation/full moon in sagittarius, my moon at that. lol, universe.

apu adman let me know that a diwata visited my room last night and told him my spirit name; that I will find out later during closing ritual. during my ceremony, apu and lakay called on the diwata that guides me to serve as witness. they wrote 14 names of the diwata and rolled them up for me to choose one. who else but the white bright moon, Diwata Bulan La Mogoaw, the moon goddess. apu and lakay just laughed and smiled because I kept taking pictures of the rising full moon the night prior and kept singing the small lyrics I know of “buwan.” I truly am a daughter of the moon. she calls me and I am listening. this diwata will continue to guide me on my path as a healer and she has blessed me with the name, “Dayang Alab ng Liwanag” – blaze of light, keeper of sacred fire of life. they already printed out the certificate before I chose my diwata guide….

most of my family think that hilot is only massage, but hilot is such deep connection to spirit 😭, and specifically how to heal with body with H (halaman, herbs), I (init, heat), L (linawag, light), O (horas, orasyon, time; prayer), T (tubig, water). my tawas (form of divination through paper, egg, or candle wax) sent a clear message that my ancestors were communicating with me and asking me to answer my call of healer, babaylan, manghihilot. there was no other way but to get so sick, face near death with tsw and pneumonia, for me to understand this path of shadow, light, and spirit. through this path, I have come to build a relationship to plants and prayer in forms of meditation, movement, intention. i am honored to be a hilot binabaylan, reviving the duties and responsibilities of the babaylan in my lineage.

I have no other words than my people are magic. I am only at the beginning of my journey. I have a lot to learn and unlearn, and am readying myself to walk the path of both spirit and earth. I asked ancestors where to even begin and I am reminded to just trust; I will continue to be present on this path to see where it leads me. today, I am happy to be hilot binabaylan. I feel blessed to have had this sacred opportunity to learn from and live with apu and lakay for the past 8 days. I am missing the busy sounds of San Jose del monte, bulacan. I am missing the constant exchange of learning between us. I am missing our shared meals together and laughter. thank you deeply, apu Rolando Gomez Comon and Lakay ALsent Magbaya Aghama, and for those who sent affirmations during my study.

The Future of Hilot

The generation before us have left a bad image to the reputation of Hilot in our country as an abortionist. Though prior to them the practice of Hilot has given a highest regards of honor as it is a Holistic Healthcare system prior to the coming of modern doctors through the colonization. In our present Generation, the practice of Hilot is struggling with Massage Profession as people now-a-days see hilot as a form of Massage. But through Hilot Academy we are changing that image by promoting the original sense of Hilot as a complete Healthcare delivery system.

In our Hilot Online Training through the Non Contact Hilot: Mind and Spirit Working Course, we have enumerated the skills of a Manghihilot in providing healthcare from cradle to grave. But in this present generations that we are right now, if we do not work to promote Hilot in our Society, what would you think that the people living in the future will know about Hilot?