Siquijor is known for its healing powers. The Spanish already acknowledged that fact by building the largest convent in Asia in Lazi after noticing that every priest they send there was healed of all of his illnesses.
And instead of building a usual 10-room monastery they build a building that could accommodate 134 people.
Maybe by doing so, that made them the country that invented medical holidays, long before this phenomenon occurred on a larger scale and was commercialized.
Every year during the holy week the healers gather on the holy mountain to brew their medicine. In every public market, you can buy wood-chips, herbs, and roots that can heal, cure and nourish.
And the superstitious Filipino does not like to travel to the island of Siquijor because of the magic they believe is happening on the island.
It made me curious. Looking at the tourist map you can buy in the souvenir shops, you see many markings of healers, especially around the San Antonio area. But also closer to home, in San Juan, there are faith healers.
I had the privilege of visiting one, being able to film a healing massage given at a faith healers home. Sitting on a little stool on the front porch while watching television the client is treated, while the faith healer watches her granddaughter and breaks away from the treatment for a while to feed the chicken.
The air is filled with the aroma of menthol and herbs she uses to massage the muscles and at the end of the treatment, she whispers silents words and blows over the clients back as if she blows away any pain, discomfort or stress. A little sip of coconut-oil does finish off the ‘magic’ and money is handed over.
You pay a faith healer what you can afford. So one person in the cue paid her 20 pesos, another 50. Very little money if you compare these prices with holistic and alternative healers in the western world.
And I dare to say her treatment is just as good.
She feels everybody’s pulse before she starts, and asks a few general questions. For the rest, she ‘senses’ and recommends sometimes a second visit.
Women and men are both treated on the front porch, but if you are shy to drop your shirt, she is willing to treat you in their bedroom.
There are different forms of healers on Siquijor, and I’m sure that, like in every country there are frauds and evil ones. This lady ‘feels’ good. As in white. Not any voodoo or black magic or whatever the Filipino’s are so afraid of that is going on on this island.
For me, the island s more the experience of holistic healing. The calm pace of the people and island life had an effect on everybody that disembarks the ferry, combine that with the stunning views and nature and you will relax the moment you settle down in your resort or homestay.
No sign of evil, black magic or voodoo, not even when you visit the rural mountain village of San Antonio. Siquijor, to me, is the calmest and peaceful island among all the islands I have visited so far in the Philippines. And it is for that reason that I love living here so much.
Due to the respect and privacy of the conversation held between the healer and her client I have muted the conversation a little and added music.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.