Background: Y.G.M. is a 49-year-old Filipino woman who works at Nye Partners in Women’s Health as the office manager. She was born and raised in Quezon City in the Philippines, and lived there until she was 25 years old. Y.G.M. self-identifies as Filipino, and as a result of her upbringing, Filipino culture is very engrained into her personal beliefs. She attended college at Mirian College, and received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Y.G.M. then immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with her family in 1997, and got her first job working at Citibank in River Forest, Illinois. She now lives with her husband in a suburb of Chicago.
Y.G.M.: So Filipinos also have superstitious beliefs like um a person called Hilot [hee-loht] which is an expert woman who can deliver um deliver a mother in labor so they are supposed to have supernatural powers to just deliver a woman without any problems and they are blessed you know to be in to help women in labor without any problems – kinda like midwives. So it’s like they have supernatural powers to do that instead of taking women to the hospital.
Q: How are the Hilots chosen?
Y.G.M.: They say, like “oh I have that special gift from above to perform such a miracle,” like a special gift from God.
Q: Is it from a specific God or just all the gods?
Y.G.M.: All the gods. And up to this moment, they still believe in that.
Q: So they just self-proclaim themselves as Hilots?
Y.G.M.: Yes yes – uh huh.
Performance Context: Hilots would be used to help women during childbirth in the Philippines.
My Thoughts: I think that it is interesting how the Filipinos relate childbirth to a religious and magical process with the use of Hilots’ god-given powers to help women in labor. Instead of using “medicine” in the general sense to help with childbirth, this practice shows that Filipino culture believes more in religion and magic to assist with everyday life.