In a phone-patched interview, we were able to get hold of Manang Bella, a known manghihilot (quack doctor) in their community. For purposes of privacy, she declined that her name be broadcasted or published.
She explained that her skill was inherited and passed on to her by her ancestors. At the start of the interview she insisted that what she has is from the “good” as she uses her skill to help those who suffered from black magic, (although at the latter part of the interview she revealed that she sometimes gives love potions to a select few).
In the Philippines she explained that there are three (3) types of manggagamot: the elementary (pertaining to those with basic knowledge); the high school (a better version of the first); and the college or the babaylan. The babaylans are said to be the most skilled among the three and the most feared. She belongs to the third group.
Although the babaylans are the feared among the rest, still they fear one leader who they acknowledged as the most powerful among them (I omitted to state the province where the so-called “leader” could be found to avoid discrimination among the locals). She further stated that a cruse or kulam given by a babaylan can only be reverted by the said leader. But once a cure or kulam is given by the leader, none among them can heal or revert it back.
Manang Bella asseverated that a higher percentage of those who seek her help to be cured by a kulam, was caused by jealousy or love rivalry. Yes, some of the victims were adulterers but no case for their infidelity was filed in court as far as those victims were concern.
At that juncture I asked her, do you think that justice can be attained through black magic?
She answered in the negative. According to her she believes in the rule of karma. Her duty now is to heal the victims or, in some rare instances, give karma to the perpetrator. Whatever that means, I no longer bothered to ask.
This 60 year old man was able to finished Theology, teaches in school, and thereafter was employed in a law firm for 25 years. His story was a bit different from Manang Bella.
He shared that his grandfather was a known mangkukulam in their province while his mother was a mangbabarang. Because of his ancestors’ skills, certain skills were likewise passed on to him.
Yes, he can read your future by just staring at your palm. He can see certain “beings” not available in the naked eye. He can tell what lies ahead of you by just staring at you for a minute. To a certain extent, he could have practiced black magic if he wanted to.
But he declined. He refused.
For him there is no thin line between the practitioners. They are all black magic. As much as possible he tried not to use whatever skill he has.
He gave me as an example the case of Moses. He said that what transpired during that ancient time was a clash between miracle and black magic on the other hand.
The pharos’ sorcerers transformed their wands into snakes ─that is black magic. Then Moses prayed, lifted his wooden cane and it was transformed into a serpent which devoured the sorcerers’ snakes ─that is what you call miracle.
I asked him if he believes that somehow justice can be attained by using black magic and potions against the wrongdoer. Let’s say, for example, the philandering husband who abused his wife suddenly dumped her and went to live with his mistress. Instead of filing an appropriate case against the husband, the poor wife resorted to kulam since the result is express compared to the tedious and stressful process of litigation. He answered in the negative. There is no justice in black magic. Evil cannot be defeated by another evil.
…to be continued
Alexander Butler (fineartamerica.com)