The interlocutor (JP) is the mother of the interviewer (INT). She and her family grew up in Bacolod, Philippines, and lived there up until she moved in her 20s. Since then, she’s lived in Los Angeles.
Description: (told in person)
(JP): “Apparently ginger was a thing to ward off the spirits, especially for babies. So my family actually got something tailored to fit my body because that would be something that would make me be quiet because babies cry! So, they attract the attention of the spirits, so they would put a…I don’t know, a hex, or what we call hiwit in our language.
And then, it takes, like a, how do you call, like a, like some kind of shaman that has to take the baby or whoever is sick so that they can do whatever… spells? To ward off the spirits.”
(INT): “Because of the noise?”
(JP): “No. Because you-it catches the spirit’s attention! So like when you’re screaming and crying and you’re in the mountainous area or the farmlands, everyone’s gonna be like ‘be quiet!’ because you’re gonna catch their attention. And usually what happens is when someone says that, the person will either have a fever. start throwing up… that’s what they say. Becaus you caught the attention of the bad spirits.”
(JP): “I guess it’s true? I haven’t been subject to it, but your uncle has, when he was a kid. He had a fever, and stomach issues… he got really sick and we had to take him to the shaman and then he got better.”
We had discussed how there was a whole genre of stories that were created for the purpose of scaring kids into behaving well. I think Hiwit is unique because it is centered around the idea of scaring kids into good behavior, but also shows that anyone around the hiwit-attractor can be affected. I think it’s interesting how stories such as this one are used to explain unexpected phenomena such as sudden illness, and how deep superstition and folk belief run in communities to try and define the uncertain.