July 16, 2021

A Guide to Traditional Filipino Hilot

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  • Hilot (pronounced hee-lot) is one of the oldest healing practices in the Philippines. Its beginnings cannot be specifically traced back, but it is widely spread and is being practiced for the longest time.

    The practice was highly debated and questioned back in the day as it was believed that the healing ability of the manghihilot (hilot practitioner) and the albularyo (traditional healer) came from mystic creatures like espiritu (spirits) and engkanto (elements).

    Such ability to perform hilot was believed to be a gift from the spirits and elements, and it was common for elders who possess “the gift of touch” to pass it on to the younger generation in their families.

    How It Works

    The main purpose of hilot is to heal by restoring harmony and balance within one’s body. Traditionally, a manghihilot or albularyo performs hilot using coconut oil and banana leaves, while muttering oracions.

    Healers would look for the imbalanced area of the body that’s causing the discomfort and illness of the patient. A good healer knows exactly where to press their skilled fingers on.

    The Benefits of Hilot

    As mentioned, hilot is a traditional way of healing. Its primary purpose is to restore a person’s physical, emotional, and even mental health.

    Parents often seek a manghihilot for common illnesses experienced by their children like colds, cough, and fever. But hilot is also administered to heal sprains, torn ligaments, displaced bones, and misaligned muscles.

    At the same time, a hilot treatment can also be administered to relax muscles, reduce muscle pains, and relieve stress. Some mothers also undergo hilot not only during pregnancy but also during their prenatal and postnatal period. 

    Hilot in the 21st Century

    More researchers and therapists are delving into the benefits of undergoing the traditional healing system.

    One such is the Association of Traditional Health Aid Givers or ATHAG. The organization, aside from promoting the traditional healing system, conducts and spearheads the training and development of skills of those who are interested to learn hilot.

    At the same time, the founding president of ATHAG Dr. Bibiano “Boy” Fajardo and Ma. Aleli Pansacola published Hilot: The Science of the Ancient Filipino Healing Arts, a book that delves on everything there is to learn about the science and art behind hilot.

    Modern-day spas have also been incorporating hilot in their treatment offerings today. In the Metro alone, a handful of luxurious spas are already offering the traditional treatment alongside popular western massage treatments such as Swedish, Thai, and Shiatsu.

    Also read: Best Home and Hotel Massage services in Metro Manila

    Sources: Hilot HealingUP Open UniversityHilot: A Traditional Filipino Healing MassageInquirer.net, and Health Pro Learn

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