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The Healing Arts of the Philippines
  ByVirgil J. Mayor Apostol

Therapeutic massage in the Philippines is a tradition as old as the island's first inhabitants. Most widely known as Hilot or Hilut, the massage tradition is known by a variety of other names.

Some names for massage therapy in different dialects of the Philippines

  • Aplos (Bontoc)
  • Aptus (Ivatan)
  • Unar (Kalinga)
  • Kemkem (Pangasinan)
  • Ilot or Ilut (Ilocano, Itawis, Zambal, Pampango)
  • Ilu (Ibanag)
  • Ilat (Isneg)
  • Elot (Ilongot)
  • Agod or Agud (Maguindanaon, Maranao)
  • Hagud (Bukidnon)
  • Ablon (Northern Ilocano)

  • The author uses Ablon to waken sleeping nerves

    All are part of the traditional folk medicine that has survived the ages despite the coming of modern technology.

    There are various categories of folk doctor (arbolario) including the practitioner of Ablon or Ilut (mangablon or mangngilut), the herbalist (mangngagas), the bonesetter (mammullo), the obstetrician (partera), and other specialists such as snake- or animal-bite curers (mannuma) and shamans or spiritual healers (mangallag).

    All of these practices have common roots with other healing modalities in Southeast Asian countries including those of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and other outlying islands.

    Lying just above the equator, the Philippines is situated in the Pacific Ocean, north of Indonesia, east of Vietnam, and south of Taiwan. A tropical climate is endured with a cooler dry season from March through June, and a wet season the rest of the year. Filipinos belong to the Austric stock of peoples that inhabit an area extending from Madagascar off the coast of East Africa, to Easter Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    There are even those who believe that the Philippines was once part of the ancient continent of Lemuria that was swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean long before Atlantis was in the Atlantic Ocean.


    Virgil uses diluted vinegar to treat a baby's heat condition

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