The faith healers of General Santos City: The Good Friday connection

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 07 April) – Even in this age of modern technology, many Filipinos continue to intertwine religion with folk beliefs, especially during the Holy Week.

Past 3pm on Good Friday, when Jesus is dead, is the best time to renew supernatural powers, declared a faith healer here.

Master Matute, a mananambal (faith healer) as he is known in Purok 6, barangay Lanton, said it is the day when healers usually trek to sites, where they do rituals, usually under huge balete trees or inside caves in remote hinterland villages.

The rituals include sacrifices, fasting and other forms of abstinence, usually done to renew powers for themselves and their anting-anting (amulets), he said.

Those who do this are the weaker ones. “They have to go and look for particular items in those places to regain strength and power,” he said.

Speaking over local broadcaster Barangay FM 102.3 Gensan on Thursday, Matute said that during Good Friday they would prepare “lana,” oil made by heating coconut milk and used for healing.

During rituals, Matute said they will bring food that will be used as “offerings to spirits” who will bestow the powers on them. “Blesingan ang oil ug sa mga gamit” (The oil and healing instruments will be blessed).

Why during the Holy Week? “Maghinay ang powers basta semana santa (The powers get weak during the Holy Week).”

Matute claimed he can heal an ailment even by just texting him the name of the patient.

He, however, clarified that he only caters to those who lack money for expensive medical treatment.

Those who do not have enough money and keep going to the doctor “can come to us and we will try to trace your ailment,” he said, pointing out that he would know if an ailment requires a doctor’s attention or not.

But the Catholic church frowns upon superstition, saying it diminishes a person’s Christian faith.

A common folk belief among many faith healers is to not take a bath during the Holy Week to help them strengthen their supposed supernatural powers.

But 70-year old T’yay Virginia, a known manghihilot in Labangal village here, said it would be difficult to attend to clients when you smell bad to them.

“Manimaho ta ana, wala nay magpahilot (We’ll smell awful, no clients would come),” she said.

She recalled that during Good Fridays in her younger years, they were prohibited by their mother from taking a bath and making noises or going out of the house, as supernatural beings would roam around because Jesus is dead.

“The elders prohibit us from giggling or playing in the yard,” she said.

She added that as much as possible, you must avoid getting hurt or injured during Good Fridays because the injury will take time to heal.

Nowadays, however, more and more people prefer to leave their homes and go to resorts and elsewhere where they can party and make loud noises, and even sing with videoke instead of pray.

“It’s like they cannot wait for Easter to come,” she quipped. (Rommel G. Rebollido/MindaNews)