The people of the Philippines is a race of races. In the blood of the Filipino, according to an Anthropologist, the proportion of racial mixture in Filipinos is as follows: Negrito, 10 %; Indones, 30 %; Malay, 40%; Chinese, 10%; Indian, 8%; European and American, 3%; and Arab, 2%. It is therefore not puzzling that magic can flow through the veins of many Filipinos.
Indeed, Magic in the Philippines began since the arrival of the first Negrito – the first settlers who walked to the Philippines through land bridge from the Asian mainland – after the last of the “Dawn Men” disappeared. Though crude, as the Negrito had a culture of the Paleolithic period, magic was known to be practiced and these practitioners were mostly revered, but some were feared. Through the history of the Philippines, the cultures of succeeding arrivals enriched each other to form the culture of the Filipino. And so was the practices of Magic improved.
Upon the arrival of the Europeans, and then the Americans, the magic of the west was Philippinized as well. The culture of the Filipino has a large pool of legends, myths, and superstitions. There was, in fact, belief in the existence of witches, wizards, and the supernatural. “Was” because it is now regarded, as with most of the world, as myth and legend. But that is contrary to truth, for we all know that they do. Today, the works of a few open magic practitioners are attributed to the Saints, as the Philippines has a majority Christian populous.
The Anting-Anting was a great source of protection, a powerful talisman to ward off evil spirits. Sadly, these arts and beliefs were slowly fading, as the youth were not ones to put faith in such folly. With the coming of the great cataclysm, these talismans became a harsh reality in survival. Over half the islands that constituted the Philippines, were washed away, given back to the sea. Rumored reports were true, approximately 98% of the population perished. The few who survived, consisted almost entirely of those that embraced the ways of old. A good percentage were the shaman and witches, while the majority were the keepers of Anting-Anting talismans. This new remnant of an island nation, was a dark, bleak hell hole, an open invitation to the new immigrants.
But what exactly is the Anting-Anting? They are ancestral talismans, coming in many shapes, sizes and designs. They are in the shape of rings, bracelets, necklaces, and are passed down from generation to generation. Their power so great, they must be freely given, usually involving rituals, or their abilities will once again slumber. Others are received after being summoned to forego a quest to sacred burial temples, by the spirits of lost ancestors! There the corpse comes to life, bestowing the gift. Such a charm, be it ever stolen, or even somehow lost, will dim to nothing, until reunited with one of the proper lineage. Each is tied to the owner, and the owner to it, a symbiotic relationship passed down amongst the bloodlines. It has been theorized that these are some form of rune, bestowing these wonderous gifts.
With such power comes great responsibility. As the talismans fill the owner with power, they also saturate their morals. Unbeknownst to the user, they will gradually become more inclined to protect the weak and defeat evil wherever it may lie. Granted, they will not foolishly jump into any battle or situation without thought, but they will be inclined to serve the islands as a protector. In a way, they serve as the chivalrous champions of these isles.
PRACTITIONERS OF MAGIC
Mangkukulam and Mambabarang
The Mangkukulam ang Mambabarang are those who practice something similar to what has been popularly called voodoo – Sorcery, Dark Magic. In fact, they are almost synonymous. They usually perform their rituals alone, but most of them belong in a cult. In most cases, they employ the use of dolls (not unlike the so called “voodoo” dolls). They use these dolls by chanting a prayer to them as to cause the subject of the curse to experience what the Mangkukulam or Mambabarang do to the dolls. Their methods usually involve a personal item of the subject. You can ask the Mangkukulam or Mambabarang to take revenge on someone, but beware for this usually yields bad things to happen to you, too.
The difference in Mangkukulam and Mambabarang is simple. The Mangkukulam needs the use of a personal property of the prospected victim. The Mambabarang on the other hand is more powerful. They need only the memory of the victim-to-be’s face to perform the evil on them.
Albularyo (Herbolerio), Hilotero, and the Babaylan
The albularyo (albularya, female), hilotero (hilotera, female), and Babaylan (female) practice branches of wizardy and witchcraft in the presence of Muggles. They are the healers. The albularyo practice mostly the field of Herbology, where the name was derived from. But his practice has expanded into that of detection and repulsion of the Dark Arts. The albularyo employs chants, and plants known to achieve the desired effects. The hilotero have powers of healing through touch and employ “hilot” or massage. They use a special externally applied potion that smells a lot like coconut oil. They go to lengths to hide this as only common oil as to put it in containers such as Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Oil.
The babaylan are tribal priestess-poets. They heal, and they guide using chants and morality stories. The babaylan are called “catalonans” by the Tagalog. Babaylan is a Visayan term. Babaylan are held high by the Muggles of her tribe. These practitioners of magic have been given authorization by the Philippine Magic Authority. They work with the Authority and are careful. They usually accredit their work to the spirits and God. But it is in no doubt that it is “salamangka” or magic. But it is believed that it is indeed from God, as indirectly as it it, because, as devout Christians most of the Albularyo and Hilotero are, it is regarded a gift from God.
Modern Witches and Wizards
The practice of modern Witchcraft and Wizardry is today most common in the islands. As with most of the wizarding communities in other parts of the world, the Wizards and Witches of the Islands Philippines go to lenghts to hide their existence. They live in communities far from the cities. These settlements are usually in one of the more than 4,700 uninhabited islands of the 7,107 islands. The islands and the surrounding areas are usually bewitched so as to not attract attention and cause ordinary people to get lost (such as Kawayanan, said to be located within a large Bamboo jungle).
Reference - Magic in the Philippines by: Andrei Miller