Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

The Faith Healers of the Philippines

Background: My informant was a Filipino immigrant who came to America when she was 12. She was born and raised in Manila before coming to America, her father seeking out new opportunities. She then got married and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and currently works as a Denial Analyst for the Sanford Health Network, the largest hospital network in the Siouxland area.

Main Piece: My informant told me about the faith healers of the Philippines. The faith healers come in various types and not all of them are referred to as faith healers. Usually, they are locals that the people depend on and trust to know how to heal bones and cure ailments using traditional means. There were hospitals around, but many people chose not to use them because of the cost. If you could get by using a faith healer, you would. It could be for anything as severe as a fracture to as simple as a tummy ache. The faith healers to my informant were the primary source of healing when she was growing up, despite hospital care being available.  My informant was sent to them because of her walking disability often, as she had a condition that prevented her from being able to run. The faith healers were usually older wise men, but sometimes women. The way you would know about a faith healer or where they were was through word of mouth. There were no regulated or official posting about their services. If you wanted to know about them, you had to talk to the community. Most of them gained their practice through their ancestors. Grandmas and grandpas that the methods were passed down through from one generation to another. Generally, they would use oil and herbs, but other types of traditional healers include spiritual healers and mediums. My informant had personal experience mostly with healers that used herbs. When that didn’t work, her parents would sometimes take her to places where spiritual healers were or places they thought an image of the Virgin Mary or Lord Jesus Christ has presented a miracle at, and where people were healing others at. The crowd at this places were often so enormous that often her family never even got close enough that they could “hope for a miracle”.

Performance Context: According to my informant, my informant was sent to the faith healers fairly frequently due to a childhood condition that was not a normal or emergency circumstance. There was really only one main faith healer in her community, although they could have been anyone and there were definitely many throughout the area.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how even though we rely on science for medicine, there is always this part of healing that is tied to the spirit and towards traditional or spiritual arts. It also remains as part of our cultures to provide a way for those who are less fortunate to give back to the community through a passed down set of skills. In addition, it shows how the influence of Christianity has an impact on the traditional and spiritual healing techniques of the indigenous people, as it remains a strong sign of salvation and hope for many in my informant’s area.

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