Psychic Healers of the Philippines
Reports of remarkable manifestations of psychic power have been coming from the Philippines for close to 20 years. After years of reading books, listening to lectures, and talking to people who had “been there,” my turn finally came. The end of August, 1978, I took off from Hawaii with my 84-year old mother and my second son, Bill. Mother had a variety of physical problems, and knew that spiritual healing was possible because she had been instrumental in healing others. But like many, she had been unable to do much for herself. She has always been naturally psychic. Bill had also had some success in facilitating healing, and has a keen interest in the whole area of the psychic, in the potential powers of the mind.
It was a great experience, though it had its frustrating moments, mostly due to our difficulty in locating the healers. We had been assured that a local travel agency would provide information to enable us to contact the healers. This proved untrue. They were only willing to arrange for healing sessions with their “own” healers, at their own convenience (in our last week there, after 3 weeks of fruitless hunting for healers) and with a payment for their services in making the arrangements. We had been told that the “true” healers worked on a donation basis, so we said “no thanks,” and Bill and I did a lot of wandering on foot, by bus, and by jeepney, looking for healers. We did finally locate several, mostly thanks to taxi drivers but on one occasion with the help of a pedestrian who saw us looking lost and offered assistance, only to find several of them out of the country, demonstrating their powers in other areas. We ended up seeing Josephine twice, even though it required a trip by private car of over 100 miles from our base in Manila, but it was well worth the effort. I also was able to witness Roger Orbito, one of the three Orbito brothers, and to see other forms of healing by a number of other people.
For those not familiar with the phenomenon of “psychic surgery”, the stories from the Philippines claimed that there were a number of people who could open up the physical body by touching it with their bare hands, sometimes even just pointing to it from a distance. The healers were then said to perform “operations”, still with the bare hands, and finally the body was said to close without any mark to show the experience. Films and sides showed the flow of blood during the surgery, but the patient felt no pain. The whole thing was over in a few minutes, and the patient got up and walked away. No antiseptics were ever used, but no infections were ever reported.
In spite of slides, film and personal reports of friends who had seen psychic surgery, nothing can take the place of seeing for oneself. All healing efforts that we saw were preceded by prayer; sometimes by exhortations and sermonizing by associates of the healer, but the healers themselves appear to simply pray and then go to work. Most healers seem to have regular periods when they are available to the public, and there is usually a waiting group when the time arrives. All healers we saw also had their own healing chapel, usually attached to their home. In the case of Josephine, the chapel was a separate one-room structure in a compound with other small buildings used as living quarters for her family. A table stood at one end of the chapel, and the rest of the room held benches for those waiting for their turn to be healed. Patients came up to lie on the table, one at a time, assisted by relatives when necessary because of age or serious problems. The treatment took only a few minutes, and the subject was replaced by another.
Only a small number of individuals are said to have the spectacular ability to “open the body” with the hands. A book about Alex Orbito says that only 26 individuals have the power, most of them from the province of Pangasinan which is north of Manila, on the way to Baguio. Many of the healers claimed to have discovered their power in childhood, sometimes by psychic revelations or dreams. But there is also a general belief that one can be “trained” to do the psychic surgery by continued association with someone with the power, and the healers had assistants who were considered apprentices. We heard of some who had supposedly developed their own power through months of working with a healer, and had set up their own healing center, including one Caucasian woman from Australia.
Our most impressive experiences were with Josephine who is considered to be one of the most talented and most spiritual of the healers. She seemed deeply sincere and devoted to her service, and she was also dealing with the pressure felt by mothers everywhere who try to combine a vocation and a family. She had to leave in the middle of one healing service to care for her baby who was crying in the distance. She returned after a few minutes to continue with the healing. She appeared astonished and very touched when, on our second visit, my mother gave her a white shawl personally crocheted for her. All others we saw seeking healing were local Philippinos, and the donations appeared to be few and small. There was no request for funds but patients could purchase “holy oil” for a few pesos (just over $1) if they wished. Massage with the oil was recommended for a variety of problems, including arthritis and rheumatism.
We saw about 15 people treated in the brief period of a little over one hour on our second visit. I was able to stand close enough to touch Josephine and the patients, and to take flash photographs as I chose. Josephine was in a short sleeved house dress, and her hands were open at all times, with no possibility of hiding the objects or blood which appeared when she touched the patient. Yet, for the most part, I did not feel that she was doing what the western medical world would call “surgery.” Small openings did appear in the patient’s body, and blood would ooze out to be later wiped up with fresh cotton. Between each treatment, Josephine would rinse her hands in a basin of water, but there was no other attempt at sterilization or protection against infection. Yet we never heard of any infection, and there was apparently no pain. For the most part, all Josephine appeared to remove were small blood clots. One exception was a case which Josephine identified as witchcraft. On that occasion, a quantity of material was removed from the abdomen. It did not look like anything that would normally come out of a living body, but I could not identify the substance.
On two occasions, Josephine apparently performed the feat for which she is especially noted—inserting cotton into the body to be later removed with the disease-causing “impurities” supposedly absorbed into it. We did not see any removal—only the disappearing cotton. The patients were told to return in a week when the cotton would be taken out. Those two experiences were the most eerie of all the healings we witnessed; seeing apparently foreign material removed from an abdomen and cotton disappear into breasts in one case, into the top of a woman’s head in another case. Any magician would assume that both were trickery, but I am reasonably sure that what we saw was an example of psychokinetic power. It is possible that the foreign substance “materialized” on the spot for Josephine to remove it, and that the cotton “dematerialized”, but at this point, I can only speculate about possible psychic mechanisms. It is quite possible that most of the “healing” is due to the faith of the patient who is impressed that something has happened, even if there has only been the removal of a small blood clot and an impressive show of blood. I do think that an energy charge of some sort is transmitted to the patient from or through the healer, but unless the patient changes the emotional attitudes which have brought on the disease, the improvement is not likely to be permanent.
In the end, regardless of our “explanations” of the phenomena, the crucial question is whether people are actually healed. I talked to a number of patients who were waiting for the healer to arrive, and they all said they had come before, some several times, and that they were being helped. Mostly, there was a steady improvement in what had been serious, chronic problems. Patients included all ages, from babies in their mother’s arms to elderly individuals, and both sexes though perhaps a few more females. In my own experience, I only met one other Caucasian, a man from New Zealand. He had been helped by one of the Orbito brothers during the latter’s visit to New Zealand, and had come to Manila for additional healing.
Since we are unable to “follow up” on most of the patients, we can only present detailed results on my mother’s experiences and their aftermath. Altogether, mother received treatments from Mornah Simeon, a woman Kahuna in Hawaii the day before we left for Manila; from a young male apprentice to a healer; from Aurora Gutierrez and a woman associate; and twice from Josephine Sison. The young male apprentice was not helpful; in fact he undid some of the gains from Mornah and the first visit to Josephine. All of the treatments by the women were helpful to varying degrees. Mornah was asked only for help with a sciatic problem which had been chronic for about 5 years, and had kept mother on regular doses of codeine as the only treatment that could relieve the pain. Following her brief but deep massage on the inner thigh, mother had no more pain from the problem area until the treatment of the young man, some two weeks later. Josephine’s second treatment again relieved the problem and mother has been able to function without the codeine since then. The area of pain manifestation was actually down the outer side of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. The muscles would tighten and feel like a rod of iron, or like hard knots that jerked. Josephine’s treatment was simply to run her hand lightly down the outer side of the thigh leaving a small (but quite visible in my film) trail of blood, and the whole leg seemed to relax.
Mother also had cataracts and was unable to read for some months before the trip. Josephine worked twice on her eyes; there was some improvement after the first session, but much more after the second, and now mother is able to read normally. She had not returned to a doctor to check the results, but is satisfied to have her vision back.
Josephine also treated mother for gall stones. Although there have been no x-rays to check, mother is now eating what she wants and has had no further attacks. One of mother’s more disturbing problems was a tipped bladder that leaked and required wearing a pad to catch the fluid. Josephine treated it on the second visit, and it was almost totally healed for some weeks. Lately, there has been a partial return of the problem though less constant than before. Both of mother’s knees were giving her difficulty, and she generally walked with a crutch for fear one would suddenly give way. Following Josephine’s treatment, the knees seemed much stronger and also had much more mobility than in years. Again, there has recently (early December) been a small relapse in the level of improvement, though the knees are still considerably better than they were before the trip.
Another even more chronic problem was constipation and hemorrhoids. Josephine removed a small mass which she said was diseased hemorrhoids, and advised mother to sit for a time each night in a basin of warm, salt water. This was done intermittently during the balance of our stay in the orient, but more consistently since mother returned home, and the hemorrhoids have clearly shrunk and the movements become more normal. Josephine also worked on mother’s hands and feet for arthritis, and advised rubbing them with oil daily as a follow-up treatment. There was no immediate visible improvement, but it occurred when the oil massage was begun at home. The use of such oil massage for arthritis is quite general in the spiritist groups in the Philippines. Dr. Esperanza Limcaco, a Stanford Ph.D. who works in the counseling and guidance department of the University of the Philippines, told us that she has been unable to find a single case of arthritis in the spiritist church. There were over 100 people present when we attended her church, and many of them were elderly, so one would normally expect a good quota of arthritics. Cayce fans will remember that he always recommended castor oil or peanut oil rubs for any rheumatic or arthritic problems.
As indicated earlier, we were only able to locate a few of the healers, and then some of them were out of the country. Vergilio Gutierrez is said to have been healing people from the age of 5, but the ability to perform the psychic opening of the body only developed in the middle of the 1950s. His sister, Aurora Gutierrez, and both parents are involved in their healing chapel which adjoins their home. Vergilio was in Japan demonstrating his healing powers, but Aurora and a woman church member worked on mother twice, not attempting the spectacular body opening, but massaging with oil. Their treatments were only a few days after our second visit to Josephine, so it is not possible to say how much they contributed to the healing which took place. Mother continued to improve from the second visit to Josephine (after the setback associated with the young man’s attempt which occurred between the two visits to Josephine) and some improvement has continued after reaching home though there has also been some recurrence of problems in milder forms as already noted. A final note on the varieties of healing we observed: a healing session was conducted in the spiritist church following the regular worship service and various testimonials. In this healing effort, patients sat on chairs while one healer held an opened Bible over their heads and others made “passes” near their bodies, or simply held their hands near while they prayed. The healers did not touch the patients.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get birth charts on very many of the healers. A booklet on Alex Orbito gives his birth date as November 25, 1940, about 150 kilometers northwest of Manila. I did not get the birthdates of Marcos or Roger Orbito. Josephine Sison’s birthday is November 1, 1941; she thinks around 7 to 9 P.M., but I have been unable to locate the birthplace. A highly tentative chart is included with no attempt to put figures on the house cusps. The most striking features are the exact Sun-Vesta conjunction which is probably in the 5th house, the mutable cross with Jupiter probably in the first house, and the Mars-Moon conjunction in Aries. I have seen the Mars-Moon conjunction in a number of individuals who work with healing and/or who have psychokinetic experiences, including Komar, Jack Schwartz and Padre Pio. Josephine commented that she had had illness and several surgeries before she became a healer herself. Fire-water mixtures such as Mars-Moon, Mars-Neptune, etc. can be destructive if the water blocks the expression of the fire. Letting the energy out to help humanity is one of the best ways to handle the mixtures.
Aurora Gutierrez was able to give me her birth data, and her brother’s within a half hour, and the charts are included for your study. Note Vesta conjunct the MC for Vergilio, and in a stellium with Pluto, Juno and Venus for Aurora. After our work with the Kundalini charts (see the article on the fixed dilemma in this issue), I would expect the potential of this power in Aurora if she continues her work. There is a Moon-Pluto square also, again like the Kundalini charts, in addition to the fire planets, Mars and Sun, conjunct Neptune, so fitting for a healer. Vergilio, like Josephine, has the rising Jupiter and a mutable cross (including the asteroids).
It is not easy to sum up our experiences, but I can convey part of my feeling by saying that all three of us hope to go again. With the one exception of the travel agency, we were treated with warmth, friendliness, generosity, and helpfulness everywhere we went in the Philippines. Since English is a national language, there is no problem in communicating. The weather was very warm and very wet (rain almost daily), but it did not bother me. We stayed in a pension house which was a fraction of the cost of hotels and almost like being in our own home. If you want a home away from home in Manila, do go to Casa Dalco and give our love to Rosa: 1318 Felipe Agoncillo, Ermita District, Manila; phones 598522 and 508825. Perhaps the bottom line is: if you are open minded but not quite sure that the mind can really have power over physical matter, a trip to see Josephine may provide a solid foundation for your faith.